Tony Hawk 5: Soaring like a hawk or diving like a rock?

Tony Hawk Pro Skater 5 was released on the 2nd of October in Europe. With initial reviews calling it “a dumpster fire on wheels” and videos on YouTube showing off a ton of not so flattering bugs I must say that I trusted in the power of the patch. It indeed landed on release, weighing in at 7GB with the game being a modest 4GB. So what’s the deal? Is it worth buying?

The answer is both yes and no, it all depends on what your expectations are. I started beating the crap out of THPS on the PlayStation back in 1999, and have ollied, flipped, and grinded my way through THPS2, THPS3, THPS4, as well as the Tony Hawks Underground 1 and 2 (THUG, THUG2), Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground (THPG), Tony Hawk’s Project 8 (THP8), Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland (THAW), and Tony Hawk’s Downhill Jam (THDJ). And I love them all, each for its own, and as such I was obviously hoping to see my favorite parts of those fused together to create THPS5.

In my opinion, THP8 is one of the better games in the series. It offers the open world of THAW and THPG, with tons of tricks and hours of fun. THPG wasn’t bad either, in the way it let you get off the board, climb, rig, and more. THAW had some spectacular additions with BMX bikes and free running, adding a whole other dimension to the game. But in THPS5 we really see nothing of that.

What we get is definitely a mix of the old, and by that I mean old. The available tricks have more resemblance with THPS1 than the other ones. Sure, you have manuals and grinds, but not much besides that. And in all fairness I believe THPS1 had more tricks. The grinds are slam-grinds now, making your skater defy gravity and slam straight down, meaning that if you have 16 years of muscle-memory to press the grind-button when you are approaching the object, you will miss a lot. And forget about flatland tricks and grind variations; It’s not in there.

It is marketed as an online experience, and as such is centered around the create-a-park editor and user created levels. The main levels however seem to have been made with the exact same editor, so with time and patience, you would be able to replicate all of them. They are tiny, and feel poorly put together however. Hopefully an update will come with an open-world story mode like THP8, but with the multi-player experience.

Progression is done by completing missions, just like the previous games, except with loading screens. You also have to fight against broken combos (even though you nail that revert and the manual, the chain breaks) and some really weird gravity issues while trying to complete these missions. And when you complete missions and unlock new customization options, you need to log out to customize your skater.

I had made a few things differently if I was the developer.

Firstly, I wouldn’t have sacrificed the open world levels of the more recent games like THP8, THAW and THPG in favour of create-a-park levels.

Secondly, the amount of tricks available is a huge step back. THP8 is the latest game in the series for the PS2, and it has like plenty more tricks.

Thirdly, I would have stayed true to the dynamics of the previous games. Slam grind doesn’t fit. The previous games would let you correct yourself somewhat using the triggers, all while being acted upon by gravity.

But we are living in a digital world and I still believe in the power of updates. THPS5 is off to an okay start, kinda flopping like a turkey right now. But with an actual “world” to skate in, story mode, a decent trick line-up, and a bit of bugfixing it can definitely soar like a hawk.

What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

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