Thank you to Activision for providing a review copy. (Reviewed on PS4 Pro)
When I first launched Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 for the first time, I was near immediately launched into pure serenity. Seeing that title screen again set to that classic soundtrack, I already knew that this was going to be everything that I wanted it to be. Sure I may have been partially blinded by nostalgia, but that didn’t last long whatsoever. As I went through the tutorials to re-familiarize myself with the controls and then went on to play through the parks, I was met with an impeccable game. Of course I had to take playing all of the Tony Hawk games growing up into consideration in the interest of remaining objective, but even if I didn’t play said titles my opinion of this release would remain the same. THPS1+2 is a masterfully executed recreation of the two hit classics, and quite possibly the most faithful remake I’ve ever played.
Graphics and Visuals
When I made my 2020 return to the iconic School in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, my jaw nearly dropped. While the graphics aren’t up to the level of the highest-budget triple A titles made today, they have no reason to be. Especially for a $40 title which contains two games from the PS2 era remade from the ground up, the graphics on display are beautiful. Just about everything has been improved visually in every way possible, you name it. Lighting, shadows, water effects, textures, frame rate, visual fidelity; the improvements are incredibly vast and just as numerous. Vicarious Visions clearly paid close attention to what made the originals stunning back in the day, and simply brought that back and greatly enhanced those aspects for the modern age.
Gameplay and Content
I’ll start this section by letting the purists out there know that if you’ve played the originals, it’s nearly identical. To make it explicitly clear for any newcomers, however, that is an amazing thing and nowhere near being considered a con. The game/skating mechanics are solid and work near flawlessly majority of the time. Additionally, and as I mentioned previously, there are very intuitive tutorials as well to hone said mechanics and practice to your heart’s content. Whether you’re stuck on a park challenge or just need a quick refresher, the tutorials are genuinely useful. However, these mechanics mean nothing without using them to perform insane tricks, which I’m happy to report there are a massive amount of. It’s never been more fun to learn, master, and build custom creative combos out of the near countless amount of moves available. If you ever encounter any frustrating obstacles you just can’t seem to get past, however, Vicarious Visions has you covered for that as well with Game Mods. Game Mods are completely optional features toggled from a sub-menu on the main menu that make the game much easier for newcomers, and although I personally didn’t utilize them they are a welcome addition. For me, the challenge is a massive, necessary part of the experience. The feeling and drive the game instills of wanting to improve my ability and increase my high scores provides an immense amount of replay value; finally landing a trick or a crazy combo I was struggling to pull off is unbelievably satisfying. Speaking of replay value, though, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 is filled to the absolute brim with it. There is a staggering amount of content: the nine parks from THPS1 along with the eight parks from THPS2 with all of their collective challenges beautifully remade, the endlessly replayable free skate mode, multiplayer modes to chill and skate with your friends, create a park which already has active creators, over seven-hundred career challenges to grind out across all modes, and a bunch of cosmetic customization options to boot. There are frankly a ton of customization options for your skater’s clothing and board, and that’s on top of the twenty-two pro skaters to play as along with the four custom “create your own” skater slots provided to you. All of said cosmetics are, thankfully, earned exclusively in-game through gameplay progression: no micro-transactions in sight! With everything this package has on offer, there will never be enough downtime to invoke boredom.
Glitches and Technical Issues
Not all is perfect in paradise however, though to be fair it nearly is. In my time with Tony Haw’s Pro Skater 1+2, I experienced a few clipping issues with my skater’s character model but they were nothing major or remotely game-breaking. Additionally, at times my skater could feel a bit stiff to control as well, but the issue wasn’t consistent enough to be a large detraction. Furthermore, the controls would sometimes be unresponsive at moments when dealing with multiple rapid inputs which lead to frustration, however it wasn’t a common occurrence. Overall, these complaints are only minor and I wouldn’t be remotely surprised if they were patched in the future.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 is downright one of the best remakes I have ever played, if not the current best. The games still retained their identities after all these years and it is blatantly apparent, although given a significant visual upgrade. The gameplay is still as smooth and intuitive as it ever was, with near endless replay-ability to enjoy said gameplay however much you want. That’s on top of all of the customization options to unlock, so you always feel like you are constantly making progress. There are a few minor technical bugs, but they’re just that: minor and mostly insignificant. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater is back in full force, and I sincerely hope Vicarious Visions is already planning their next installment for the revitalized franchise we all know and love.