After an getting into a room with a broken door, I was given a demo of the new features and gameplay of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 from Robomodo. After the first 30 seconds, I was undoubtedly impressed. This seems to be the Tony Hawk game we’ve been waiting 13 years for.
The first level that was demonstrated, was called “Bunker” which is a combination of Warehouse and Hangar from the series’ past. Everything you expect to be there is: combos, missions, and the controls. There’s some changes to take note, like using R2/RT for pushing, which can also be done with pushing up on the left stick. This is to alleviate the bad habit of jumping to gain speed. You can also use L2/LT to brake at any point.
Grinds are a huge part of the game, but they’ve recognized that, and are compensating for overshooting or having to time the spacing between grinds by allowing you to slam using the triangle button. Do you ever find yourself launching and going to land sideways on nothing? The slam will correct you. In practice, it doesn’t break the combo, but it doesn’t add anything to it. It just makes movement more accessible.
President of Robomodo Studios, Joshua Tsui then showed off School III, which is basically the school we remember, but tweaked here and there. It’s creating a blend of old and new…school.
Probably the more revolutionary aspect of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 is the handling of online. There are no more lobbies, replaced with freeskate lobbies where gametypes can be started up from there. Solo sessions can be started where you invite your friends, and supports 24-players online with dedicated servers. In most online modes, there’s a slight collision between players that will be slowing players down. In other modes, there will be collisions that knock players down. The much-talked about projectiles are a minor portion of the game, I’m told. They haven’t said what all there will be, but fireballs have been confirmed as one of the types.
Create-A-Park also makes a welcome return. And this is another seamless feature. You can quickly place objects, and those that you’ll be repeating often can be duplicated with the greatest of ease. Not only that, but you can play your park at any point with the press of a button. When you’re done, the park isn’t just there for you to enjoy. You can share it to the world, and the ranking system attached to it will allow it to rise or fall with the community.
When you’ve played the game long enough, you earn your SPECIAL meter, right? Well, what if I told you that you didn’t have to use it right away? You can now store your SPECIAL for whenever you need it, and it can be triggered by L1/LB, but you can’t turn it off. It’s just so smart, you wish it were in games prior.
Specific details of what would be in the game as far as musical selections go, has been tight lipped. But we were promised to hear news of new and familiar songs announced soon. The same goes for characters, but during our time, we were all but promised that Officer Dick will be returning.
Whatever character you decide to play as, will have the leveling we have come to know and love. Each character starts with their beginning stats, and as you play them more, you can upgrade them as you desire. But let’s talk player movement for a moment. Playing as Tony Hawk felt fluid and fast, but not as fast as it could be. However, that all changes once you activate your SPECIAL, and then Tony Hawk starts to feel like THPS1-4 in terms of movement. I think the base movement speed could be increased just a little bit. But given stat changes, this entire could be alleviated simply by leveling.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 is utilizing the hardware efficiently. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD felt limited by dated hardware and ambitions beyond the technical limit of the machines they were running on. Tony Hawk is back, running in 1080p at 60fps and it feels and plays incredibly well. This is a game worthy of the “5” in its title.