Posted: December 14, 2014
In a day before games kept track of hours played, I'd estimate my time spent across the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater (THPS) series in the 1000s of hours. I fully completed and became proficient at games 1-8 in the series. At the time, I thought 8 (the first entry on the PS3) was so poor that I couldn't bring myself to suffer through 9. And then I played this disaster, which makes the constant issues/glitches in 8 feel like I was complaining about nothing.
Let's cut right to the chase. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD is not the same game as the old THPS games. The game was rebuilt from the ground up and does not feel like the old series. While the PS2 iterations became progressively less inspired and lazy as the numbers climbed to 5, 6, 7, at least the game always FELT the same. This feels totally different and the best way I can describe it is clunky. I made an effort to max Tony Hawk's stats because I thought "maybe it feels like garbage because my stats are so low." I got close, but could not bring myself to finish the task. It was too frustrating.
Controls: there is no way to change them in-game and with a controller, they are slightly different than the old THPS games (see "reverts")
Reverts: This essential move, added in THPS3, is available via a DLC pack. Okay, yes, it's stupid that it wasn't included in the original, but whatever. That is not the main issue here. Fans of the old games will remember that a revert is performed by pressing R2 as you land a vert trick. The previously mentioned control change? Now R2 also causes your skater to spin while in the air (I believe R1 did this in the past? never used it). Imagine this: every time you try to revert, you spin another 30-45 degrees, causing you to crash-land your vert trick. It is difficult for me to put into words how frustrating this is. And it happens CONSTANTLY. How the developers could possibly think it's a good idea to have revert and mid-air rotate mapped to the same button is beyond me. This issue alone makes the game unplayable. There is a somewhat confusing .ini file you can edit to change key bindings, but as far as I can tell, revert and spin actions are one in the same, and cannot be separated.
Grinds: In the THPS series, performing a grind/series of grinds speeds up your character. This mechanic is not present here. I used to trick around the map to collect objectives because it was faster, and fun. In THPS HD, I found myself skating and avoiding everything because it slowed me down and I would inevitably run into some glitch that knocked me down.
Wall-rides: God... the frustration. They are damn near impossible to do in this game. Way harder than in THPS1 (which was not a great game for wall-rides). I nearly heaved my PC out the window attempting to grind the 5 bells in the schoolyard. Oh, and when you actually manage to get in a wall-ride, the result is inconsistent and wonky.
Display: All controls displayed in the game are keyboard controls, even if you're using a controller. So navigating menus and buying stats required either guesswork on the controller or reaching over to use the keybaord. Not a huge issue, but it's sloppy.
Constant Glitches: I only played the game a couple hours and encountered tons of issues. I'd estimate about 5% of my falls would launch me high in the air and across the map. Manuals after reverts do not work consistently. One time I was stuck in a manual and could not get out by jumping.
If you've never played any of the old games, there is a chance you may enjoy this title, not knowing what you missed. If you have played and enjoyed any of the previous iterations, stay far away, not matter how low the cost of this during a Steam sale. It is like paying money to have someone punch you in the stomach and trample your dreams of a time when THPS games were fun.