Tony Hawks Pro Skater HD first hands-on preview

Since 1999, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater has provided hundreds of hours of rail grinding, kick-flipping, nose-manual’ing fun. Yes, even Activision had to admit that the series had outstayed its welcome by the time Tony Hawk Ride failed to reinvent the Birdman. Fortunately, the back catalog is rich enough for an HD remix that weds the best stages from THPS and the seminal THPS2 into a tight downloadable package. We got our first-hands on with the game at Microsoft’s recent Spring Showcase event.

What is it? Announced at the VGAs last December (opens in new tab), THPS HD is a redone “Best of” compilation of fan favorite stages from the first two Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater games. It’s fully digital and will be out on Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network.

Who is the developer? Robomodo, the team behind the ill-fated Tony Hawk titles of the past few years, is taking the helm. Curb your prejudice, though, since there are no peripherals involved. There are some adjustments that needed to be made, though, such as a roster of playable skaters who weren’t in the originals, like Nyjah Huston and Tony Hawk’s son Riley. Also, it’s looking doubtful that Activision will use the same soundtrack as the original games (opens in new tab). Such is the nature of licensing.

How does it look? We played through Warehouse, the first stage of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, and while character models have been totally redone—instead of the grey t-shirt from the PlayStation era, Tony is wearing a Quiksilver hoodie—the stage itself looks like a graphically enhanced version of that same area that you learned the ins and outs of kickflips and handplants. And all of the flying blood from ugly faceplants and bad spills are there, too. It’s the same, but updated for today’s standards.

How does it play? It still has some kinks in regard to physics and collision, and there were some bugs regarding plants, but so far, so good, it’s like revisiting an old friend’s house after several years. Some of us have been playing Tony Hawk since the first game hit in 1999, so there was a surreal feeling as we applied manuals to the THPS Warehouse (the moveset was introduced in 2000’s THPS2). In general, it seems to tap into the best elements of the early games instead of reminding you of things like… the majority of T.H.U.G. 2. There’s definitely some ironing out that needs to be done between now and launch, but the vagueness of the release date could imply anything from “after E3” to “some time before September 1.”

When is it out? Right now, “summer 2012” is the official company line (opens in new tab). Again, that’s a rather broad window.

What’s the Prognosis? Looking good. The game has some needed work to be done, but we’re confident that bringing back the magic of the first two games will give us lots to play. We’re really looking forward to jumping into some happy (and facelifted) memories soon.

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