Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 Review

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 Review

Tony Hawk Shows His Age in Pro Skater 5

There’s a perfectly reasonable explanation behind why Activision neglected to provide review copies of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 to any major press outlets, because the game is straight up awful. Imagine heading back to your folks’ house, years after you’ve moved out and made something of yourself, to stumble upon an old box in the basement with your name scribbled in capital letters and the words “childhood memories” etched in equally terrible hand-writing just below that. Instead of finding the shades of your youth in awkward pictures and weathered old mementos, you find a large pile of dog poop, perfectly centered in the box as if someone wanted you to find it this way. That’s exactly how Pro Skater 5 made me feel, and I can’t help but think Activision doesn’t care one way or another.

I’ve been a huge fan of the franchise since the initial title debuted on the Nintendo 64 back in the spring of 2000. Pro Skater absolutely changed the way I viewed video games as a whole and was essentially the spark that led to my eventual position as a reviewer. I fully immersed myself into video gaming culture following the endless hours of gameplay spent shredding up the streets of Pro Skater’s Chicago and the forbidden grounds Roswell’s. I’ve played every single extreme sports title that drew on the name of the man that revolutionized skateboarding and I’ve never been disappointed by any offering within the series, until now.

My initial reaction was a mixture of shock, disappointment, and confusion – sprinkled with a dash of anger and regret for my fellow gamers that waited so long for this title to launch, just to flush their $60 down the drain. The graphics are terrible, the controls feel like I’m riding in my grandmother’s wheelchair, and the replay value is pretty much nonexistent in the rehashed game modes and challenges from yesteryear. I can’t help but wonder what the developers were thinking and if they eventually got to a point where they just stopped trying.

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5 Screenshot

The game feels very similar to the older Pro Skater versions, so much so that I couldn’t help but reach for my dusty old N64 controler for some one-handed skating terribleness, but I quickly realized what decade I was in. The physics of the gameplay are not of this world and feel as if my character has a pile of stone blocks taped to his dirty skater pants. Similarly, the overall controls feel clunky and would probably be better utilized on an iPad rather than a next-gen console controller. The environments don’t feel genuine underneath my skateboard but feel smooth, blocky, and very predictable.

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5 Screenshot

The graphics that complement the weak controls are just as disappointing. For whatever reason, the developers decided to opt for a more 2.5D viewpoint rather than the traditional display gamers expect to see from a full-priced next-gen console game. The character models are poorly rendered, I think by choice, and the skate parks look like they were flushed out in a weekend. The lack of rendering detail is offensive and the mobile-type visual presentation just doesn’t work for me either. Perhaps the development team was attempting to try something new and failed epicly, or they figured this game was going to be terrible from the start and it would be much easier to code this basic visual model in the long run. Either way, it makes it extremely difficult to immerse yourself within the game as a result.

The one bright spot contained within this confusing mix of questionable development choices is the stellar soundtrack. The music blends flawlessly with the fast-paced gameplay and actually makes the experience a little more enjoyable. No Tony Hawk game is complete without a solid soundtrack and Pro Skater 5 definitely has the tunes to keep gamers working through the basic challenges and game modes. Each track blends perfectly with the last and the flawless compositional choice is on full display. The cool aspect about the music chosen is that it doesn’t overpower the intended gaming experience and offers a good variety of bands that synch well together. The only quarrel I have with the music department is the lack of in-game sounds for particular actions such as ollieing, kickflipping, and wiping out- they’re completely nonexistent.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 Screenshot

The replay value initially seems to be rather robust with 8 environments, 80 different challenges, 10 pro skaters to choose from (including Lil’ Wayne for some reason), and the ability to simultaneously play with 20 players online. However, almost all of the missions are presented in a rinse and repeat format – the only difference is the setting in which you bang out these challenges. Yes, I understand this has been the Pro Skater format since day one, but at least give us some variety and a storyline or a reason to complete these challenges. I would have been a little less disappointed with the replay value, let alone the entire game, if the game were presented as a Pro Skater 1 remake, because that’s exactly how it feels. Collecting the words “skate” and “combo” isn’t original, nabbing a VHS tape is no longer cool since I haven’t used one in probably ten years, and busting out predictable combination-lines is nowhere near what it use to be. Pro Skater’s past has been all about content, massive amounts of glorious content. Pro Skater 5 doesn’t even come close to the content or replay value found within its predecessors.

When all is said and done, this game doesn’t deserve to be called Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 and most certainly shouldn’t make its way onto your download queue. I feel like Activision withheld it from early reviews because the company knew it’s a butt of a game. I know it’s tempting to give this one a go, especially after the years of awesomeness the Pro Skater franchise has provided in the past, but it doesn’t match up to today’s standards. Avoid this one like the Black Plague.

The choice to present the game within this poorly rendered graphics model is both puzzling and a disservice to one of the greatest franchises of all time. 2.0 Control
The controls are stiff and offer no intuitive feeling for the player, which results in a less exciting gameplay experience. 4.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The soundtrack is excellent and enjoyable, providing the game’s only highlight, but falls short of a perfect score for the absence of gameplay sound effects. 1.0 Play Value
Rinse and repeat gameplay model that has gamers grinding out tasks rather than enjoying them. 1.5 Overall Rating – Avoid
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.

Review Rating Legend
0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 – 2.9 = Average 3.5 – 3.9 = Good 4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 – 2.4 = Poor 3.0 – 3.4 = Fair 4.0 – 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • PLAY AS A PRO OR CREATE-A-SKATER- Play as one of 10 pros, including Tony Hawk, Nyjah Huston, and Aaron “Jaws” Homoki, each with their own tricks, or personalize a skater unique to your style.
  • ENDLESS SHRED SESSIONS- Jump in and out of over 80 unique missions across 8 environments.
  • SEAMLESS ONLINE MULTIPLAYER- Shred online with 20 players at once.

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