Admittedly, I’ve had multiple failed attempts at getting into skateboarding whilst growing up, me and my Star Wars themed board were never fit for the big leagues. Whilst I could never live up to the pros in real life, I fondly remember feeling like the man himself playing the Tony Hawk series back in the early 2000s, and now some 20 years later, they’re back. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 on Next-Gen is a complete remaster of the original two titles packed into one game with all of the original maps and game modes with some new additions for good measure, developed by Activision. It’s a mix of old world meets new with similar gameplay and design that feels like a blast to the past, draped in state of the art graphics thanks to the new next gen update. It brings a new lease of life to a cult classic of the PS2 era, and whether you’re a seasoned veteran of the originals or new to the series, there’s a whole lot of fun to be had.
It all kicks off with the tutorial which truly sets the scene for the atmosphere of the game, you’re dropped into one of the incredibly well designed parks, board in hand and old school punk rock & hip hop on the radio, I felt like I’d stepped back in time. You’re then carried through a series of guided lessons starting at basic movement all the way up to advanced skills like combos and finisher tricks, each lesson narrated by the Mr Hawk himself. As far as tutorials go this one is really good, it does a great job of providing a practical and fun way to introduce you to the fundamentals of the game without making it seem too time-consuming. I really had a lot of fun messing about with my newly acquired abilities, testing the water to see what I had and hadn’t grasped, the best feature of this tutorial is that you can go at your own pace, it doesn’t boot you into the full game after all lessons are completed and you can go back to redo any lesson whenever you want. Looking back at it the tutorial exemplifies the vibe of this game in a really nice way, you can play it at whatever style or intensity that you like in every mode.
Once you’ve ticked off the basics and have shaken off all the falls, it’s time to dive into the action with Pro Skater 1+2’s 3 core Game modes. The first one on the list is Tours, a take on a career mode that uses the original maps from the first two games, split into either ranked of free skate tours. Ranked Tours consist of traversing the park and completing different challenges such as obtaining a high score, collecting objects and letters from hard to reach places or map-specific challenges, all under the pressure of a time limit. You start off with one park and unlock more through completing challenges, the more parks unlocked the more challenges are required. If you’re looking to push your abilities to the limit, this is the place for you, the time limit really puts the pressure on and forces you to fully focus in order to chain tricks together and build score.
Now I don’t know if this is due to being a bit rusty but I found Ranked Tours to be pretty brutal, the time limit feels really short for what it is asking of you, and I never got to fully enjoy the design of the parks as I was too busy frantically rushing about the place trying to tick off challenges. All too soon it became a chore to me, there were some challenges that I just couldn’t unlock which meant I was hammering away at the same levels over and over again, eventually my progress ground to a halt. If I’m honest, I’ve never been one to enjoy a grind, I’ve uninstalled and reinstalled Dark Souls more times than I can remember so the question of how much you’ll enjoy Ranked is really a matter of personal preference. If they could extend or give an option to remove the time limit I think it could be the standout game mode, players still have the option to go for that high intensity gameplay but it would open up other avenues, allowing you to take a more methodical approach to the chaos – possibly helping to bring my heart rate down a few beats per minute when playing.
Coming away from this somewhat disappointing aspect of the game I did find a positive however, when I loaded into the other tours mode the game offers Free Skate. In this mode the world is your oyster, all parks from both games are unlocked from the off and you’re free to do whatever you want, go wherever you want in each one, no time constraints in sight, no checklist of challenges to tick off. I loved having the ability to jump out of a park once I’d seen enough and head straight into another one instantly, it kept things fresh and allowed me to fully experience the well thought out design and graphical beauty of the game. After spending 20 minutes or so playing about on one park I unlocked a secret area by getting to a hard to reach place just by chance, it was a really surprising reward for taking the extra time to explore every little corner of the park, something you might not be able to do in Ranked. Another great benefit of this mode is that the maps are kept exactly the same as they are in Ranked, so if you’re struggling to find a hidden element to complete a challenge or need to get the best route to reach certain places, you can take the time here to practice just that and I even found myself completing an additional few challenges by practicing here first. For me, Free Skate is one of the best modes on the game, offering a world of possibility as to how you want to play, serving as a place to hone your skills or to just have some fun and take in all of the different parks, and the long list of them means that you never have to repeat the same one if you don’t wish to.
The final single player game mode is Create a Park, a feature which allows you to build, test and publish your own skate park for the world to see. In keeping with the rest of the game this mode is really well built and thought out, there’s a tonne of different objects which you can use ranging from park benches to grind across all the way up to looped ramps and giant half pipes, as well as everything in between. Currently you can only choose a beach or a waterfront as a setting which limits the environment you can build upon, but in terms of the actual components you can add there’s so much choice. The ability to place whatever wherever leads to endless possibilities and design ideas, you want a ramp that drops you in 50ft from the sky? no problem, feel like adding a giant rail stretching out like a roller coaster? go for it! The option to drop in and test out new builds at any point is also a really nice touch and allows you to avoid the frustration of finishing an entire section only for it to not go how you’d expect in motion. Once you’ve perfected your masterpiece you can publish it for anyone to try out, or to get some inspiration you can download parks from other players and give them a try. Create a Park is a really thought out feature that does a great job of adding another layer of depth to the game, and serves as a place to put your own unique twist into the world of Tony Hawk.
As well as the single player modes there is also a multiplayer element of the game, which offers both online and local options. There’s a number of different modes to choose from including free skate, high score challenges, time challenges, and some more outlandish ones such as tag or graffiti, which plays a bit like Splatoon meets Tony Hawk. Each of the games bring a different test of skill and the local multiplayer is great to play with friends, but overall I wasn’t blown away by the multiplayer; the majority of modes are either a repetition of the single player modes or feel too similar to each other to make them interesting individually. It does do a good job of adding another layer of competition if you wish to play against other players however, and providing a social element to an already great game is a welcome sign especially if you have mastered all of the ranked tours and wish to test your skill further. I left the multiplayer thinking that if the devs put a few wacky, party style modes into the multiplayer a bit akin to GTA Online’s races or death runs the multiplayer would become less one-dimensional, making it less about skill and more about chaos and the fun that comes with that.
Each of these different game modes are bolstered by some really exciting gameplay. Everything feels very crisp and responsive from the movement of the board and skater as well as the different tricks which you can pull off, they’ve really nailed the design and motion capture of the skaters themselves as even when you chain complex tricks or different motion such as ollies and grinding ramps it all looks incredibly realistic, nothing looks ridiculous or fake. Once you’ve got the controls down the button layout is pretty simple and enables you to quickly switch between different styles of tricks or movements, this plays into the hands of the game allowing you to chain different tricks together for high scoring runs. In some extreme sports games the movement can feel pretty fake with robotic transitions on advanced tricks but there’s none of that here, the gameplay really does an excellent job of supplementing the design to create a great sense of realism when playing.
If you were to set a benchmark for the best looking games out there, it doesn’t get much higher than Pro Skater 1+2. With the remastered graphics alongside the brand new next gen update the game is stunning, every minute detail like the graffiti on the walls or the tread marks on the ramps are captured in breath-taking detail. All of the parks are incredibly well designed as well, each one is strewn with unique assets styled to it’s theme, from dark and dusty lighting and smashed windows in an abandoned warehouse to a rampant bull storming around the edge of the bull ring park. There’s so many layers to each park and no single one feels rushed or boring, which is a huge part of what makes this game so damn fun to play. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a remaster done so well with such beautiful graphics, especially not one 20 or so years later. There’s also the option to customise your own skater with the ability to change appearance, clothing and your board itself, each one of these assets contain the same level of incredible detail, if you were able to zoom in close enough you could probably count the fibres on your newly purchased beanie. The game performs smooth as anything, running native 4K and 60fps as standard on the next gen consoles which really makes every trick look as real and clear as possible. Visually this is as good as it gets with a game, the Activision really have outdone themselves with the graphical upgrades, and it serves as yet another sign of the care and efforts to develop this game.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 on Next-Gen is the type of game which many players may not consider to be something they’d usually go for but in this instance, I urge you to. The wide variety of game modes means that there’s something for everyone and you can keep sinking the hours in without getting bored, no aspect of it feels too rushed or too restrictive. The gameplay is a blast and the graphics are incredible, and whilst the multiplayer could do with a few more different game modes there’s lots to keep you playing. Being a fan of the original titles I began with high hopes and they were quickly surpassed, it is evidently clear that this remaster was not made for the purpose of a cash grab nor a publicity stunt, but as a labour of love for an old cult classic.
GameRev was provided with a digital download of the game for the purpose of this review.