Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: Sports
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Vicarious Visions
Release Date: March 26, 2021


As an Amazon Associate, we earn commission from qualifying purchases.

PS5 Review - 'Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2'

by Cody Medellin on July 8, 2021 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

The original birdman Tony Hawk is returning with remastered versions of the first two badass games in the Tony Hawk franchise -- Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2.

Buy Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2

When Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 released in September 2020, we called it one of the best remakes ever made. Its mechanics remain timeless enough that those intimately familiar with the first two titles can easily jump in, while those new to the franchise can see what the fuss is all about. Like many games released this late in the PS4 life cycle, this one isn't just sticking with backward compatibility on the PS5, opting instead for a native release on the platform. Unlike most games going this route, though, Activision has made it less straightforward, as those who own the Deluxe Edition on the PS4 can do a free upgrade, while those who opted for the Standard Edition pay an extra $10 to get the PS5 version in Deluxe form. For those wondering what those upgrades are, skip to the second-to-last paragraph of the review. For everyone else who didn't play it yet, here's the full review of the game.

The early Tony Hawk's Pro Skater titles prided themselves on being arcade skating experiences. With a few exceptions, you're given two minutes to skate around an area while you try to rack up as many points as you can by pulling off various tricks. Individual tricks are nice, but stringing together moves in combos is where the magic comes in, and each level has plenty of opportunities to create skating lines that can produce massive combos if you can pull them off. Each level has a myriad of objectives to complete, and while most of them center around hitting point thresholds, either cumulatively or in one combo, there are other objectives to keep things interesting, such as destroying boxes, jumping over parked cars, or finding the level's secret tape. Aside from these goals, you can also accumulate stat point icons to power up your skater's traits so it's easier to achieve goals.

Paramount to this remaster is the game's mechanics and overall skating feeling. The original titles had very tight controls, which is something the HD version played a little loose on. Thankfully, the controls here feel just like the original, with the timing for pulling off those tricks being the same as before, give or take the inherent lag in modern displays. The game pulls in one trait from the HD version in that the moves from the second game can be done in the first game as well. The revert, which was introduced in the third game, is also present for both the first and second titles. Those additions are game-changers, as combos are much easier to sustain with these in play. For the purists, there's an option to pare down the move set to either what was only capable in the second game or trim it to what was in the first game, removing the manual and wall push in the process.

Even if you bring the trick library back to the original game's set, THPS1+2 retains the pick-up-and-play nature that made the series so beloved in the first place. It only takes a few seconds to learn which buttons do what, and it takes less than one session to start busting out 50-50 grinds on long rails or get a 360 frontside grab on one side of a halfpipe and a christ air on the other side. Build up the meter without bailing, and soon, tricks like the 900 become achievable. The ease with which various tricks can be performed made you feel like you had the skills to pull off what took the pros months to master, and the two-minute time limit added pressure to aim for specific goals during the run while also making you feel great at being able to pull off so many moves in a short amount of time. It is no wonder that the players who were around for the original game's PlayStation demo became intimately familiar with the mechanics, and the same addictive feeling hits here, which is probably all the assurance that veteran players need to know that this is very, very good.

The only gameplay option that you can't turn off concerns bailing. In past games, bailing sucked because you lost your score for those tricks and the animation was quite lengthy. Here, bails still happen, but they appear as glitches where you magically reappear on your board, ready to skate. In action, it cuts down on that forced downtime, and while some purists may see that as a slight cheat, it ensures that the adrenaline flowing for each run doesn't constantly get interrupted.

Unlike Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD, THPS1+2 features every single level from both games. Whether it's the iconic Warehouse, Roswell, or School and from the first game or the competition in Versailles, the graffiti-laden Venice Beach, or the hangar from the second game, everything is faithfully re-created with every secret in the right place and not even an iota of geometry changed, so those old trick lines you pulled off before are viable again. Even the objectives are all there, sitting exactly where they should be; anyone with an old strategy guide or an excellent memory will find that familiarity once more. If anything, it shows just how good these levels were at nudging players to explore and find things on their own, rather than forcing them down specific paths to find the cool stuff. The only major part that has changed is that the levels from the original game have each gained five more objectives to keep them in line with the count from the second title, but their integration is seamless enough that the new goals fit in perfectly with the old ones.

The game properly splits both titles' levels instead of combining them into one giant campaign. You can jump between both campaigns at any time, and goal completion is also kept separate, so if you were better at the second game than the first, you can't blaze through that title to open up the original's levels. However, stat points are transferable between campaigns, so if you get stuck on the first game, you can go to the second game and grab some stat points before returning with a more powerful skater to give it another go. It is one of many changes that makes the game feel like less of a grind, and your progress through each campaign doesn't reset if you change skaters. You'll still want to replay those levels, since stat points respawn for every new skater.

Another thing you'll notice is that the game adopts an overall player XP system. Whether you're completing goals for the first time or taking a free run, you'll always gain XP and cash. There are bigger XP and cash rewards doled out for completing challenges, whether they're global ones like hitting a number of special tricks or skater-specific ones like having a certain skater hit a specific trick. All of that unlocks new boards and outfits for the pro skaters in the game as well as your created skaters. There are a ton of challenges out there, so both cash and XP come in at a steady pace. Although everything is cosmetic, there are no microtransactions, so you can unlock everything without spending more than the initial cost of the game.

Speaking of skaters, every skater from both titles returns in THPS1+2 with the same starting stats that they had in the original titles. The twist is that the team went with their modern looks, so it can be jarring to see older versions of pros like Steve Caballero or Andrew Reynolds grind through these old maps, but it is also pretty cool to see that the game isn't a complete time capsule, either. In addition to the 13 original skaters, there are eight more pros. Some of them are part of the series, like Nyjah Huston and Lizzie Armanto, while others are new, like Leo Baker and Aori Nishimura. Aside from adding diversity to the cast, their addition is a great way to get the younger set into the game. While the game has secret characters like an alien and Officer Bob played by Jack Black, Spider-Man is nowhere to be found, so those who want the webslinger riding around on a skateboard should keep their original copy of the second game.

Likewise, the soundtrack, which is as iconic as the skaters and the skating, is an eclectic mix of both modern material and classics. In an unprecedented move, only three songs — "Committed" by Unsane from the first game, "B-Boy Document '99" by The High & Mighty feat. Mos Def and Mad Skillz, and "Out With the Old" by Alley Life feat. Black Planet, both from the second game — didn't make the jump to this version. That means that tunes like "Superman" by Goldfinger, "Guerrilla Radio" by Rage Against the Machine, and "Jerry Was A Race Car Driver" by Primus are here, songs that are forever linked with the games. The nostalgia from the rest of the game's features hits hard, but the additional 37 songs don't feel out of place. New songs like "Deathwire" by Rough Francis and "In Control" by Baker Boy along with classics like "Can I Kick It?" by A Tribe Called Quest fit in perfectly. Aside from the fact that you can customize the songs that are played, all of the tunes play continuously, so you can hear the whole song instead of two-minute snippets. All it takes is a button press to skip the current song.

It would have been enough for Vicarious Visions to stop at everything mentioned above and call it a day, but it went the extra mile in ensuring the game remains installed on your PS5 for quite some time. Aside from the two campaigns of the original games, there's a third mode where you can aim for your highest score in one run, but this time, your score is posted on online leaderboards so you can see how you stack up. There's also a specific Speed Run mode that tallies how quickly you can get all of the goals in a level in a single run. Online play has both free skate and score attack modes, and those modes are also available for local multiplayer, a nice nod to what the original games offered. For those who want to take things easy, the cheats for perfect rail and manual balance are just an option away, but it disqualifies you from entering the leaderboards. As mentioned before, the game has a create-a-skater feature that has plenty of clothing and deck options once you unlock everything.

Create-a-park is the game's final feature, and while it remains just as easy to create parks now as it did before, it feels more powerful here thanks to the ability to further tweak the pieces you're given, so you can now have gradual elevation and curvature. What makes this even more special is that you can share your creations online, and there have been plenty of them to choose from since the game was initially released. Aside from adding new skating locales, there are challenges associated with building and playing the creations, so there's more reason for players to give this a shot.

Of course, a remastering of a game calls for a graphical overhaul, and THPS1+2 doesn't disappoint in this regard. Powered by Unreal Engine 4, the game sports some excellent lighting, and levels are brought to life with tremendous detail. Some of those stages even come with new things, like drones during Downhill Jam or boarded-up storefronts and banners signaling closures in The Mall. Even though you've seen it countless times, the shattering of old wood in the Warehouse at the beginning of the run never gets old due to how many planks are splintered in the process, and the same can be said for the sparks that result from grinds. Characters look very impressive and even have new animations, such as cheering when they complete an objective.

Truth be told, there aren't too many PS5-specific features here. The lighting has seen some improvements, but they're subtle enough that you would be forgiven for thinking that they don't exist. You now have two graphical modes to choose from where you can favor resolution with 4K 60fps in Fidelity mode or frame rate with 1080p 120fps on Performance mode. Load times are barely there, clocking in at between 3-5 seconds when moving between stages. The controller gets the most attention, with the new haptic feedback system providing all sorts of variable rumble depending on what surface you're skating on. The adaptive triggers, on the other hand, are as divisive here as they are on other titles that have implemented them; they kick in when you're trying to do a revert on a surface and lock up if you try to do this in the air. It's something you get used to, but those who have their muscle memory too ingrained to bother adapting to it can always turn off the feature.

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 remains a masterpiece of a remake. The spirit of the first two games is kept alive here, while the presentation puts it at the higher echelon of remakes that have been released thus far. If you never owned the PS4 iteration, then the PS5 version is the perfect way to jump in. If you have a 4K set or a screen with high refresh rates, then the upgrade might also be worth it — more so than the additions of the controller triggers and vibration. If you're going physical on this one, be on the lookout for the Deluxe Edition, as the PS5-only disc is the same price minus the extra cosmetics.

Score: 9.0/10

More articles about Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2
blog comments powered by Disqus