Sometimes a trip down the soothing, sun-drenched road of memory lane is one not worth taking.
Which actually surprised me, considering I had so much fun in the past playing the Tony Hawk-series. Money was a scarce commodity at the time, being the scruffy looking student I was, so buying a game was considered a huge investment. Tony Hawk was at its third iteration at the time and man-oh-man, was that game a kick-flipping blast to play.
Everything just clicked with me: the frantic gameplay, lively levels full of secrets and the mesmerizing soundtrack filled to the brim with – at the time – awesome nu-metal, ska and punk tracks. But the fun didn’t stop there! All my roommates where playing the same Tony Hawk, elevating a simple game to something more… Something deviously competitive, offering us a bromancingly good time. We laughed-out-loud at each other’s disastrous bails, cheered wildly when a new record was set and would tell each other wild tales of sick combo’s while rigorously practicing in our tiny rooms, blinds down to shield us from the sun and enough beer present to fuel a small army.
Thus, when my nostalgic mood reared its ugly head one lost weekend, I didn’t hesitate to buy the ‘new-and-improved’ Tony Hawk Pro Skateboarding HD for a measly seven bucks. To quote the ham-faced Nintendo executive: ‘My body was ready’.
Turns out, seven bucks can buy you a whole lot of steaming, foul smelling excrement, unfit even for the most pitiful, nutrition-barren garden. Mere minutes spent with this game begged the question: was Tony Hawk always this shitty, and did I just not see it?
On quick browse through my game collection and one hooked up PlayStation 2 later provided the answer: no, it was Robomodo, the developer of this unholy produce of man, whom should be drowned while being baptized.
Tony Hawk 3 was just fine, still highly playable end very much enjoyable. So what went wrong with the HD version? Well, for one, the game truly looks mind-bogglingly stale. It’s okay to use the Unreal 3 engine for your games, but why make everything ‘Gears-of-Wars-y’? As in: ‘Let’s make this level completely brown! Next-gen means moar brown! And this level is blue, blue friggin’ blue! Blue is like so next-gennnnnnnnnghhhhh!‘. This last cry of unstoppable excitement followed by a loud thud, as Robomodo’s lead art director falls fapping to the floor, his eyes looking upwards in a glazy haze while he is astonished by the utter greatness his ideas carry.
I might be a bit sarcastic here, but drab-looking environments pose more of a problem than just plain-old poor taste. The last-gen Tony Hawk’s benefitted greatly from a cartoon-like color pallet, highlighting spots of interest while maintaining a fresh, clear view of the action. Surely it wasn’t perfect, but it’s leaps and bounds better than this murky game, unworthy of donning the HD-moniker.
Tony Hawk Pro Skater HD’s graphical problems pose actually not more than a mere niggle in this debacle of herculean proportions, considering its biggest problem lies within its core gameplay. I don’t know what the hell happened, but flaunting stuff like physic-engines – tech not even available at the time Tony Hawk still made heads turn and emptied wallets of anxious gamers – at the title screen mean jack-shit when the game doesn’t feel like Tony Hawk.
Why in the name of the rail-grinding-gods can’t Robomodo make a HD-update feel like its source material? Is it that freaking hard? And, while we’re on the subject, why did they strip the game of all its charm? I already discussed the piss-poor color palette, but they’ve also axed the in-game skate shop, inserting a bland looking menu in its place. Do you love the original games that much?
That I’m this surprised at the end of the day is poor judgment on my end, considering those guys and girls killed off Tony Hawk a couple of years ago by hogging the peripheral-crazy-train to Cuckoo-ville with an grizzly-looking, plastic skateboard of doom.
The only caveat here is that they had to make those games from scratch. With this HD-game… they had all this crazy-cool stuff to work with, yet they squander this opportunity and deliver the fans this half-baked pile of garbage even dung beetles wouldn’t care to roll around with.
Tony Hawk Pro Skater HD is the proverbial limping old dog, drooling over itself while thinking of days gone by, when people we’re actually happy he existed.
And I want my money back, dammit.
Lasting appeal 3.0
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