Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 Impressions From a Skateboarder – The Good, Bad, and Ugly

I've been skateboarding since I was 11 years old. I knew from the day that I stood on a skateboard for my first time that I had a natural attraction to the sport, but it wasn't until Tony Hawk's Pro Skater debuted in 1999 that I would fall in love. 16 years later, I still regularly head to the skate park, watching skate videos, and play Skate 3 when I need to get it out of my system.

When I booted up Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5 yesterday I didn't know what to expect. While this was a game that Tony Hawk personally endorsed, there's been a lot of negativity going around in the gaming community regarding the game. Without knowing who to trust, I dropped in and experienced it for myself. Below you can read what my impressions were.

 


 

The Good

The Berrics is a great level to include. This legendary indoor skate park owned by Eric Koston and Steve Berra is one that every skater dreams of visiting. This is the first time it's been added to a video game, and it serves as a great, well laid-out starting level with a fantastic balance of rails, ledges, and stairs.

It's fun skating to the soundtrack. Equipped with 32 tracks, THPS5 has varied music that is true to the sport and consistently makes playing the game more enjoyable. 

It sure feels like THPS. The physics and controls—for the most part—are very true to the spirit of the earlier releases, which is one of the best things that can be said about the game. Pulling off ridiculous combos consisting of big air, reverts, manuals, and long rail grinds is a blast.

It has the small details that skaters look for. Brands, clothing, trick names, and vocabulary. This isn't just a game thrown together by programmers. There were skaters in the studio to ensure that it feels authentic.

The menus are well put-together. Navigating the menus and UI is easy and makes a great impression visually. Sadly, this is one of the only positive things that can be said about the presentation.

There are secrets to be found. There are hidden characters to unlock, secret areas in the levels, and other things that give the game much-needed depth.

There's great footy to watch. The cast of THPS5 has some explosive cuts to share, including never done before (NDB) tech tricks by Chris Cole, and massive drops by Jaws.

The Special Meter is exciting. It feels as though you're going Super Saiyan before pulling off tricks that would be absolutely impossible in the real world, just the sort of thing you look for in a THPS game.

The skater list is good. You can tell that there was attention given to the visual and trick design of each pro skater.

 

The Bad

The track list can't be edited. The music is fantastic, but ​if you dislike any of the songs, then you will be forced to listen to them anyway. Though, you do have an option to mute the music.

Slam is a troublemaker. In the golden days of THPS the engine did a great job of making sure you grinded the rail that you intended to. In THPS5, pressing the triangle or Y button is unpredictable because the slam mechanic is bound to the same button. Often times you'll kill a combo due to the game not recognizing that you wanted to grind an object right next to you. The game would be better off without this "innovation".

8 locations. Robomodo didn't go big in terms of content quantity. The only way you're going to play this past the eight hour mark is if you enjoy the Create-A-Park feature and playing multiplayer.

It feels unfinished. What's here feels as though it needs several more months of development. There are small, and sometimes big, inconsistencies in quality.

There isn't much to work toward. Unlocking all eight stages is linear in design and largely uneventful. Outside of that, all you'll be encouraged to do is place stat points and unlock new custom characters styles. It's missing the big set pieces that make you want to progress and get better. Something like a Street League Skateboarding contest would have been huge for skateboarding and THPS fans alike.

 

The Ugly

It's as glitchy as if Tony Hawk himself wrote the code. Within the first 30 minutes I got trapped inside a wall, and froze in a grinding position.​ Within 24 hours there are dozens of gifs and images of sometimes funny, but always frustrating glitches.

The visuals. It looks like it should be a PS3 launch title. Environments are flat and uninspired. The skater animations are poorly composed, making it appear as if everyone has crapped their pants. I would love to see Chris Cole's face when he first plays this game and sees how poorly his style has been represented.

It runs poorly. Noticeable framerate drops are in abundance on the PS4 version—and presumably elsewhere. Early on there's a mission that asks you to push big beach balls out of a pool, and the framerate dipped to extreme levels throughout the 90 seconds it took for me to complete the mission.

Skate is a lot better. It may have been possible to resurrect the THPS franchise, but this won't cut it. Meanwhile, EA's Skate has shown that it can deliver something far more worthy of a $60 price tag in the modern era. This might be the deadly blow to THPS that many were hoping it wouldn't be.