Developed by:Robomodo Published by:Activision Genre(s):
  • Sports
  • Platform:
  • Microsoft
  • Sony
  • Cost:$59.99 ESRB Rating:TEEN Players:1 (2-20 Online) Release date:September 29, 2015 Reviewed on:XBox One

    Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5

    Depending heavily on the nostalgia of a previous game when producing a sequel can be one of the worse things you can do as a developer. This is especially true if you aren’t the original creator of the series you’re shinning a spot light on. And as much as I’ve warned of such things over the years…developers continue to do just that…

    Ok, so yeah. I have literally no say in how a game is developed. All I can do is provide an unbiased opinion based on my experience with a particular title, and in my experience, nostalgia only goes so far. Take Robomodo’s newest title, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5. A sequel to a beloved franchise that dominated the genre – it was like the Madden of skating games. This should have been an easy win. I mean, with its biggest rival (SKATE) nowhere to be found and a void to be filled in the market, making a new Tony Hawk game makes sense. How you go about creating the latest entry in a long dormant series is what’s important though.

    One thing I have to admit is that Robomodo got the “feel” of a Tony Hawk game correct. Skating towards a quarter pipe while holding down the jump/olli button in order to launch my character into the air is just as entertaining as it was back in the early 2000’s. Kickflipping onto rails, hitting a manual to extend combos, locating all of the letters to form the word SKATE – even the control scheme is familiar, sans a change in the way you grind (more on that later). It wasn’t long before I was racking up points as I skated around the classic-looking warehouse map, amused solely by my ability to land a difficult trick.

    I didn’t need any objectives, a makeshift campaign or even other players. That’s not to say that I was alone during my sessions. You see, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 (THPS5 for short) features seamless online multiplayer* where skaters can drop in and out of a map at will. Like a virtual skate park, everywhere you looked was someone attempting a crazy stunt. That or they were looking for the open world objectives (like finding the aforementioned SKATE letters). And though I didn’t interact with most of the people skating around, it was cool not being alone while skating solo…if you get what I mean.

    So, we have retro-styled gameplay and modern trappings via the ability to skate around with others. Not bad so far. Beyond the open world stuff, there were the normal level-specific events scattered around the map. By level-specific, I mean the events you need to do well in order to unlock new maps. When you skate up to these points on the map and hold the appropriate button, you’ll be greeted with a list showcasing what you’ll need to do. They range from the normal “score this amount of points in a given time limit” event to the “collect a set number of random items and deliver them to some place” event. Once the smoke clears, you’ll be ranked based on your performance and given stars (a maximum of three per event).

    This is where things started to take a turn for me. Most of the events are fun the first few times you complete them. Some are even comical; pulling off tricks in order to keep your expanding head from exploding never gets old. The problem is that every map seemed to have the exact same events. Besides an outlier here or there, you’ll have to do the same things over and over again. As if this couldn’t induce some frustration on its own, there is also the fifteen star requirement to unlock a new map. This means you’d have to do exceptionally well in at least five events – difficult to do if you aren’t proficient at navigating around the current level – or do just ok in a lot more. The open world objectives, which also do not vary, only reward you with cosmetic items. Thankfully, you don’t have to tackle these events alone.

    Unfortunately, it can be tricky to get others to partner with you. The only time you’re given the option to do so without actually inviting a friend to a session is when you skate up to an event that someone is standing next to. In my experience though, by the time I slid up to them, they’d be whisked away to a private version of the map. Like an instance in an MMO, when doing events you are removed from anyone who isn’t a part of your group. This boils down to people skating around each other but not actually WITH each other.

    As the tedium slowly took hold, I reverted back to just skating around the maps I had already unlocked. That’s when the lack of content became woefully apparent. It wasn’t enough to just grind on rails all day…at least not if I had to do it in the same places I spent the better part of the game in. I wasn’t keen on making my own park either (though this wasn’t because of poor functionality within the create-a-skatepark mode). And because the maps were full of people doing their own thing, I couldn’t get a multiplayer event going when I decided to invite people/utilize the game’s matchmaking. At first I thought that I had grown accustomed to the extra stuff seen in the later Tony Hawk games – maybe I did need the makeshift campaign. But then I realized that everything about THPS5 had been streamlined. Created characters are just professional skaters in different “skins” (you can give Tony Hawk a female’s head if you like), the maps are designed where the most interesting bits are in the background, there aren’t that many modes of play, and a lot of the moves from previous games have been removed.

    Speaking of moves, remember when I said that the grind button had changed? When you hit the “Y” button, your skater will slam downward, magically connecting to any edge you can grind on (within a reasonable distance of course). This makes it super easy to land grinds as it takes away the need to actually line up your board with a railing. Now this isn’t a bad thing for newcomers. But for someone who’s played nearly every title in this series, the option to turn this feature off would have opened up more challenging gameplay or at the very least, stave off the eventual boredom.

    Last but not least is the game’s presentation. I would’ve loved the colorful visuals (a nod to the past iterations) if they didn’t take so long to render. They shouldn’t be taxing to the current gen consoles so I’m not sure why my skater will look like a mannequin ten to fifteen seconds after loading an event. Then there are the bugs. One minute I’m floating through the air in a crashed state even though I didn’t hit anything and the next the event markers are failing to bring up their lists, forcing me to reload a map. In either case, I’m just not having fun.

    I normally don’t comment on a game’s price. The reason being is that a game’s worth isn’t determined by how much content it has; the Witcher 3 and Super Mario 3D World have varying amounts of content, but both are worth the money. However, when what’s presented is stripped down to the bare bones and doesn’t function the way it should, I have to question the $60 price point. It seems like THPS5 was rushed to the market; the decision to remove features was to get it out sooner as opposed to bringing back a retro experience. A shame really. I did enjoy the early hours of play.

    *The multiplayer options are featured on the current gen consoles only. The Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of THPS5, developed by Disruptive Games, won’t have multiplayer modes when they release on November 10th. They will be cheaper though, costing gamers $39.99 instead of $59.99.  



    The basic skating isn’t bad, even with the magic grind button. The lackluster content surrounding the skating is…well, lackluster



    The visuals would be ok if they didn’t stutter into place seconds after a map has loaded.



    The soundtrack isn’t memorable.

    Replay Value:


    If you have friends to skate with, I’m sure you squeeze out more hours of “fun”.

    Final Score:


    © United Front Gaming. All rights reserved. Site design by: 801red