As a 15-year-old there was nothing better in the world than booting up my PSOne and my copy of Tony Hawk’s Skateboarding (that’s what it was actually called here in the UK) and losing myself hours of my day while having an absolute blast. Honestly, I would say that between MrJohnSherry and I we probably wasted 200-300 hours playing through the single player collecting everything and playing horse for days.
It was a superb game!
The sequel made me buy a GBA, and the third was an obsession – my mate and I would play it for hours on end, often to the detriment of anything else, we literally played from morning to night on some occasions. That Cruise Ship level was the bomb (the Canada level, not so much)!
This franchise meant everything to me; it was my favourite game series for half a decade and to this day it holds a very dear place of my heart. Th is the reason that THPS 5 is the only game I have ever preordered digitally. Sure it meant that I was paying £50 for the pleasure of playing the latest in the long running series; a franchise that had been dormant for nearly a decade.
With that amount of time this game had to be great…
Well, no. The problems with the game are all extremely well documented by this stage but, in a nutshell) it is a title that was borne out of Activision’s lapsing licence (of 15 years!) and their desire to pump out a quick cash-in of one of gaming’s most profitable franchises.
Tony Hawk Pro Skater 5 has a laundry list of issues that hamper the enjoyment:
- It is ugly as sin
- The soundtrack is atrocious
- The frame rate is atrocious
- The controls are atrocious
- The Level design is atrocious
- The mission structure tries to emulate the classic titles but misjudges them completely and end up being atrocious.
- The loading times are biblical in length because the game demands you join a server even when playing single player.
This game will go down in history as an example of how to NOT make a game and it is an embarrassment not only to the franchise that it is part of in name only, but also to this great hobby of ours.
Robomodo (and it is not 100% their fault) has completely misjudged everything that made the original games so fun and memorable – it was a combination of factors that came together to create an experience that was incomparable to anything else available at the time.
- The level’s were designed around routes (or runs) with everything meticulously placed to allow the player to trick their way through entire runs, never needing to stop the combo at all.
- Neversoft understood the limitations of their movement system and everything in the game was tailored to compensate for these – when you failed at THPS 1-3 it felt like it was your fault.
- The physics engine was absolutely perfect, movement was natural and predictable, when you got ‘in the zone’ there are few games with this level of grace.
- The soundtrack complemented the action on-screen, it also captured the attitude of the sport and those people playing perfectly. Seldom does this fusion of visuals and audio meld so perfectly; it did in THPS 1-3.
- Neversoft had a real love for the sport of skateboarding and their games felt as such – this wasn’t just a video game, it was our journey as a skateboarding legend. We put the time in and pulled off tricks that would have been impossible in the first few hours. Our skills (as well as our chosen skater’s) grew and we reaped the benefits of this with flashier moves.
- The missions were well designed and felt unique to each level, their execution was fun, rewarding and brilliant.
- Add-ons to the sequels felt like natural evolution, the manuals and reverts added to the game in natural ways and their utilisation in the missions and levels opened new possibilities for the player as their skill increased.
Robomodo emulated precisely none of these consistently and what we are left with is a sequel that feels like a cheap knock off.
I have no idea how the level’s were designed, but it wasn’t to give the player interesting arenas to test their skills, nor is it to allow flowing combos that never need to be broken. Every level, with a few exceptions admittedly, seem to have been picked up from the editing room floor left their by Neversoft – too many are too restrictive (as in size and trick opportunities), too cluttered (with obstacles) with collectibles thrown in at random with little care for runs in which to pick them up logically. Ironically my favourite level is the least imaginative, but Mega Park feels the most like a THPS level with clear and defined runs, obstacles laid out brilliantly and with ample opportunity to trick and grind your way across the whole map. This map gave me hope before the game plunged to dark depths with level design.
The physics are the worst; they are lifted directly from THPS HD which means they are floaty, inconsistent and terrible when you add in the new slam move (which is the grind button) which throws you back to the ground, tricking is a chore with combo’s being broken by you jumping too far, too short or being thrown to the ground as you prime a grind in mid-air. It feels awful to play most of the time and the physics play a huge part in that.
The technical issues are also just too hard to ignore – the graphics look like they belong in the last gen, the frame rates drop below 20 for little to no reason, the controls are inconsistent 99% the time (and they have improved these issues over time but it’s still at an unacceptable level) which robs the player of any flow, textures pop in all the time, the music is forgettable (at my most generous here). And yet the worst thing about all of this is that there are moments…
…moments when everything just works, when a well designed level and controls that decide to play fair with you and all of a sudden you are in a combo flow that harkens back to the best that THPS 1-3 had to offer. All of a sudden (and without doing anything different) the games numerous systems all come together and provide the gamer with an experience that is comparable to what the series used to offer 100% of the time. Unfortunately here, these moments are far too infrequent and far too fleeting.
There is a good game hidden in here somewhere, Robomodo were under huge time constraints to release this game before the licence lapsed – with more time to develop the game this could have been something special. Instead we’re left with a game that is far from good, barely serviceable and mostly unfun to play – it kills me to say it, but it is the worst game I’ve played this generation and one of the worst I’ve played ever…