Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 & 2 Demo Impressions – Back in the Birdhouse

Tony Hawk. Chad Muska. Bob Burnquist. Rodney Mullen. Eric Koston… Feel old yet?

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater was a childhood staple, the quintessential skating game that we all probably spent hours on trying to land that 900 or pulling off a string so long you’d think it was Tony Hawk himself doing the tricks. It was an iconic piece of our childhood that is making a huge comeback next month.

With the release of the remastered version scheduled on September 4, we got to try out an early demo build of the game and we have to say that we’re pretty impressed with what Vicarious Visions have come up with here, enough to merit the excitement that we all felt when it was first revealed back in May.

On the Demo, which will be open for those who pre-ordered the game digitally, you’ll be treated to a no frills feature set that will allow you to shred through intense 2 minute sessions behind the iconic Warehouse setting that we all know and love from before. That said, it’s hard to remember all the minor details from about 20 years ago, but the Warehouse level that is included in the demo seems to have all of the nooks and crannies back in all its glory minus any hidden tapes or S-K-A-T-E letters to collect. Its a veritable blast from the past!

Almost everything you remember from the original game is back. While it is locked for now, obviously for demo purposes, it at least gives you a teaser of what’s ahead for you should you choose to purchase the game. When the full game launches, you’ll be able to customize your outfits, decks, choose which special tricks or normal tricks you’ll be taking on your sessions, and even allocate stat points.

All of the original tricks from Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and 2 make a return, but new tricks from the 3rd and 4th game like the ‘Revert’ will be making an appearance too. You’ll be able to pull tricks by combining a direction with a button (square for flip tricks, circle for grabs, etc) and chaining tricks together will yield a higher score, filling up your special meter faster for those signature tricks. It’s quite a lot to take in, especially when you factor in spin and landing timing, so new players may get a little bit intimidated at how it all plays out.

What made the original game so good is that while the skating mechanics are on point, the controls are insanely accurate too. You’ll be glad to know that both make a comeback in this remastered version.

I haven’t touched a skating game in over 10 years now and its great to jump back in, pull a few rounds, and relearn everything just like riding a bicycle. Of course my hands and fingers are not as dexterous as before, but the demo was generally very easy to pick up and play. Players who are new to the game and the series might take a bit of time to come to grips with the controls, but that hurdle is easily cleared after a few sessions.

The controls are very responsive and the camera angles work the way you want them to, putting you in on the action at all times. I am known to complain a lot about bad controls in games but this remastered version has won me over with smooth and near flawless controls.

The visuals, down to the animations, are also well made and realizes how far we’ve come in terms of technology. Graphically, the game has improved by leaps and bounds, considering 2 console generations in between the original release and the remastered version, which is very much worthy of a current generation release.

Sticking to the promise of 4K 60fps, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 & 2 nails this on the head nicely, providing a smooth experience that players will enjoy. At least for the Warehouse level, there is no noticeable frame dips which is a good sign, but obviously we cannot say the same for the other, more expansive levels that the game will have come launch.

Loading the game is also surprisingly fast, getting you in on the action within an average of 10 or so seconds. While this is not indicative of the final product, we can hope that this carries through to launch when it is exponentially bigger with all of the features unlocked.

One of the high points of the demo, as with the original game, is the epic soundtrack that accompanies you throughout your skate sesh. The demo features 4 tracks – Guerrilla Radio from Rage Against the Machine, Superman by Goldfinger, Afraid of Heights by Billy Talent, and Lose Control by Tyrone Briggs. Each track is filled with enough head bobbing and riffs that pair well enough with the fast paced action of the game.

These 4 are but a taste of the 50+ tracks that you’ll get in the full game, and you’ll be sure to find a good mix between the new and old ranging from Sublime, A Tribe Called Quest, Machine Gun Kelly and Rough Francis.

One nitpick I’d like to point out in the demo is the addition of a glitch effect everytime you take a stumble. It may be a personal thing, and some people might like it, but it was slightly off putting for me. Maybe it was the fact that I was playing on an empty stomach at 2AM in the morning. Minor issue, and one that won’t greatly affect gameplay experience for many, I would imagine.

The demo does its job well of treating players to a taste what the full game can offer. It is a fast paced, adrenaline filled session that will satisfy the skating urge that players have been wanting for quite a while now. The locked menus also show a Skate Shop and Challenges tab, which indicate the collectibles and replay value that the game will have post launch, even boasting of online multiplayer so you can shred it out with a buddy. Another mode is Skate Tours, which we can only assume to be the “Career Mode” of the game, so that could also be something to look out for.

Overall, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 is looking like a prettier and shinier version of the original with its heart and soul intact, and is a good example of a remaster done right.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 will be available worldwide on September 4 for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

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