Tony-Hawk-HD---Xbox-360-Review Tony Hawk HD - Xbox 360 Review

   20/07/2012 at 09:57       Phil May       14 COMMENTS. - Score 1/5
 - Tony Hawk HD, Robomodo, Activision, Grave, Pissed on

I'd like to kick off this review by asking the audience how they'd feel about a live pit-fight between developers Robomodo and a small gang of velociraptors. The fight could take place in a flame-filled spiked arena, just to ensure that none of the developers escape the full wrath of the hungry dinosaurs. Only this way will we see an end to the ruination of one of gaming's finest series, the Tony Hawk skateboarding games. 

Robomodo have, for the past few years, singly sought to scupper Mr Hawk's retirement fund.  A golden future kicking back on a couch somewhere watching Celebrity Cribs on MTV while eating Twinkies the size of American Footballs, Mr Hawk could stop all this buggerarsing about on Skateboards and quietly see out his twilight years as a fat slob. 

But no, he's forced to get up there and compete, he's forced to whore himself out to any branding that comes his way for the measly few million such deals net him. The game deal has been soured by developers who know not of the mythical playtest, know not of the mythical idea of paying homage to previous titles, and know not of their direct competitor - the mighty EA Skate series, which was (until it was yanked itself) slowly digging Tony Hawk's gaming grave. 

I blame Robomodo, and I blame Activision for letting them lazily string together their trashy semblance of the Tony Hawk games in the pretence that they'll somehow recapture the magic of past titles.

The sad thing is, you know what? They can't even sodding well get it right when they're reusing classic assets from previous games so what hope is there that they'll ever pull it out of the bag? 

I got extremely excited about Tony Hawk HD for several reasons. Number 1, the lure of those old arenas and skate areas. The absolutely sublime School, the beautifully constructed and linear Mall, and the creme de la creme, the Aircraft Hangar. For a moment I imagined what these classic arenas would feel like bathed in the afterglow of the Unreal engine, reconstructed from scratch by loving hands, glorious in HD. They do look great, they are absolutely spot-on replicas of the originals with a little bit of tarting up to suit a hungry brand-obsessed audience. The problem comes when you choose your character from a venerable roster of skating greats (or your own horrible little homunculus - your Live Avatar) and begin the actual business of Skateboarding. Gone are those crumpet-butter-smooth moves and transitions you've got used to with Project 8 or indeed the EA Skate series (let's face it, you probably took one look or had one go on Robomodo's truly awful motion-controlled Tony Hawk: Ride and signed the series off for good at that point - and sensibly switched allegiances to Skate, right?) Instead you've got the spastically jerky poorly animated cardboard cut-out and camera-crazy gameplay Robomodo are trying to pass off as paid due to the original TH games. 

It's so frustrating. It reeks of greatness the first time you get a whiff of the possibility of playing the classic gameplay of hoving away at each level's targets, either nailing them in one smorgasbord of Skateboarding glory, or chipping away at them challenge by challenge until you've maxed them all out. But the game fights you all the way, even without the hindrance of a daft motion control skateboard, you're no better off with the pad. Controls seem sluggish, there's no dampening or compensation betwixt moves, and the fixed camera frustrates every time you end up with your arse in the air chump-dumping your latest trick. 

I persevered. Believe me I did, and I'm extremely grateful for the opportunity to review this for free because I would've been pretty pissed off if I'd blown 1200 precious Moon Points on it. 800 would've probably been better, but not much better. 400 would have been far more realistic, in all honesty. 

TH HD from a single-player perspective delights and frustrates. Delights as you remember just how many hours you lost to the original games (whatever your preference of format, I think I owned Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 on PC, Dreamcast and Playstation just for a bit of weird diversity). Delights as you find that all your little tricks, routes and tactics for grabbing the goodies from each level still eerily work all these years on. But then frustrates in spades as the game fights you on every level, burying your character knee deep in the tarmac (if indeed you're not actually falling through the tarmac into blank space on some levels - a good opportunity to rack up stupido amounts of points as you literally hover in mid air tricking your arse off till the game realises that it's knacked itself). 

Yes, despite the insta-day-one update patch, it's as buggy as hell (but then previous Robomodo efforts were too, Ride had a tendency to pull the same 'bury you' trick).

So what's to salvage from this mess? I don't really know if anything can be salvaged from it, even in those moments where you win against the game's attempts to hobble you and pull off a deliciously oily little trick line or transit to a rooftop to pick up some hidden treasure. Thankfully you'll at least be able to try this before you buy as it's an XBLA release. 

Even if you really love the series to pieces and are willing to put up with the game's insulting lack of love for its forefathers, it's really nothing more than a lazy attempt to cash in on that past greatness, and once again proof positive that even a team as shoddy as EA's Black Box can strap together a realistic and more believeable Skateboarding game that is acres more satisfying to play than Robomodo are capable of making. In fact as a recommendation, if you don't already have it, don't blow your wad on this, go and pick up Skate 3 for the pitiful price it's currently available for, study the arena layouts in TH HD and go and build them in Skate 3's sublime editor mode. It's pretty much the only way you're going to get anywhere near the greatness of classic Tony Hawk gameplay (unless you've still got a copy of the originals kicking about). 

This game's made me a sad panda. By rights, it should've been one of the highlights of the Summer of Arcade. Instead it's a cigarette-dimped mongtard dressed up to be something it's not. 

 

Stars
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