Is Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5 a return to form or a big bail?
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5 comes back after a multi-year hiatus. Does the 16 year old franchise still have what it takes to excite gamers both young and old? Activision and developer Robomodo have made it be known that this new game in the franchise is taking it "old-school". Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5 is supposed to a sequel to the original four games of the series. Gone is the open-world environment from the newer games as traditional levels and missions take place here. The first thing people will notice about this new Tony Hawk game is its unique visual style. The graphics were criticized heavily when the first gameplay footage was shown. Many people said it looked like a PS2 game. Thankfully, the updated cel-shaded filter makes the game look cooler in comparison. It's nothing fancy, but it looks prettier than before. As for the levels, they are roughly around the same size as the levels seen in Tony Hawk 3 and 4. They have even updated two levels from the first two games. However, the overall level design is not as creative as in the previous games. Not to mention they add too many unwanted gimmicks and it's hard to string good combos in these areas.
Some of the gimmicks are annoying if you want to skate "normally" so to speak. The worst level is the one called "Rooftops". To navigate through this stupid level, you have to grab some wings and ollie twice to go higher. There is also a level called "Asteroids" where you have to use portals and moon gravity to gain extra points. Although I still managed to get 1 million hit combos in some of the levels, it didn't feel as smooth as in the third and fourth games. The position of the rails and verts seem disjointed and it's hard for you to string a good combo. Not to mention some levels chuck some unwanted obstacles in your way too. The stupid hockey players in the "Mountain" level are the most annoying... As for the gameplay and physics, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5 is a huge improvement over Robomodo's Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD. The HD remake had the worst physics in Tony Hawk history. I'm glad they managed to improve it this time around. However, the physics still feel off from the older games. This may be because they've removed some features such as flat-land tricks and more. Other features they have removed is the ability to customize your trick list. This is very annoying because I used to customize my trick list to cater for the level I was skating in. Now you just have to make do with the default tricks and special moves that are allocated to each skater.
However, the biggest feature removed in this game is split-screen multiplayer. This is a feature I played for hours on end competing with my friends and family members. Robomodo removed this feature from the HD remake too and sadly they didn't put it back in for whatever reason.
This is sad because playing online is no fun at all. Even if I want to challenge people online, nobody responds. There's no specific mode where you play online multiplayer games. The single player is integrated with the online multiplayer. You may not be able to play online if people are too busy wanting to play the single player campaign. Speaking of the single player campaign, there is no variety in the missions. All of the missions are the same or very similar in each level. You won't be seeing the wacky type of challenges that were in the older games sadly. It's also worth mentioning this game has a steep learning curve. I was lucky to have mastered the older games so I unlocked every level easily. I don't think beginners can play the game so easily as the difficulty rises quite quickly requiring you to get 1.5 million to even 6 million points in some levels.... The soundtrack in this game is pretty decent I have to say. It may not reach the heights of the older games, but I'd rather listen to this soundtrack than mainstream music on the radio these days. There is a healthy mix if artists from various different genres. I was actually surprised how much I liked the music. The playlist is much better than in the HD remake. Overall, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5 is a 50/50 type of game. There are flashes of brilliance hidden within the game, but time has not been kind to the franchise. This game is like the modern era Simpsons. You love the older material, yet the new stuff fails to capture you in the same way. Verdict: 6.0/10