Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5 Review
Greeting players of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5 is an image of the aging pro in mid-air, grabbing his board, with look of utter indifference crossing his face. Or maybe the look is of disdain. It would appear he knows what's coming.
Tony Hawk 5 is unacceptable. It is broken, glitchy, unfinished, of poor value, and exploitative of nostalgia. While Tony Hawk 5 ignores the oftentimes screwy, story-driven Tony Hawk adventures (this would otherwise be Tony Hawk 16 or so), it also crushes a legacy of '90s skate culture which once spoke for the PlayStation generation.
The culture's music anthems are still here. The loud, contrasting art style is too. Big head modes and wonky mission types – delivering spinning ice cream cones to a pool – glance the serie's avant garde, irreverent humor, however fleeting the presence may be. Skating in space pulls from the wonkiest of Tony Hawk's interactive endeavors, one of a paltry eight parks in the package.
Hawking a Legacy
Then a skater falls through the ground because unfinished collision failed to catch them in time.
In a way, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater belonged to late '90s children as much as He-Man and Alf belonged to those in the '80s. So ingrained is the unchanged control scheme, anything other than triangle/Y to grind would be uncomfortable. Only X to jump is more familiar. The exposure Activison's once lauded series gave to graffiti art, plaid shirts, extreme sports, and punk was invaluable. Tony Hawk 5 wants to return to that forward-thinking idealism. Then a skater falls through the ground because unfinished collision detection failed to catch them in time.
This is the industry's egregious anti-consumer attitude in action...
Activision has shipped a video game on a disc which does not contain advertised features. This is the industry's egregious anti-consumer attitude in action, the worst offense since Microsoft sent a $400 video game console to stores which needed day one updates to even function. Put in Tony Hawk 5 without grabbing a mammoth, data sapping 7GB+ patch and only limited content (plus creation options) are available. Preservationists can commence crying.
Fragments of a social community are here. Players can join games to free skate or co-op. Fine, if making mission access often impossible. Holding a button to initiate such challenges won't often work with others around. This could be fine since private games are accessible - until Tony Hawk 5 auto connects online once a mission is completed. Exit, repeat, for a dozen or more times per level.
What a grand idea this was – bringing purveyors of this flashy, fish-eye lens-loving community together to showcase their ideas in a space willing to promote their style. In the (apparently) limited development time, Robomodo/Disruptive Games crafted an inclusive offering where anyone can feel represented. Shame this happened in Tony Hawk 5 and not something else.
Pieces of something are here. Of what may involve sarcastic expletives, but still.
So utterly rotten is Tony Hawk 5, it's a wonder if Activision was not courting the glitch-happy, montage-creating YouTube community. Goat Simulator has better stability for those purposes though. Skaters here fly off boards mid-jump, become stuck in walls, fall through courses into digital oblivions, skid out of bounds in non-out of bounds areas, or fail to register completion metrics (the latter happened twice during review sessions, the rest were too frequent to measure).
Pieces of something are here. Of what may involve sarcastic expletives, but still. Conceptually, the communal Tony Hawk 5 - even in an era where video games are swarmed with bloated social access – has potential. Tricking, grinding, manualing, etc. into combos (and this assumes things work) still has an essence about it. Using them in this vintage mix of free skate and objective is a darling idea for a throwback. Tony Hawk's core systems will never lose the joy of their accomplishment. That is, until that accomplishment is rendered moot because Tony Hawk's foot becomes stuck in a wall.