'Tony Hawk's Professional Skater 5': one thing new, one thing borrowed

'Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5': something new, something borrowed

“It is like making a brand new Star Wars film,” says Patrick Dwyer, lead designer on developer Robomodo’s upcoming Tony Hawk’s Professional Skater 5. “The originals are nice after which the remaining weren’t nearly as good.” He is referring, in fact, to the excessive bar set by the primary 4 video games within the storied excessive sports activities franchise as in comparison with the middling releases that adopted. The thought, as Dwyer explains it, is to deal with something that launched previous 2002’s Tony Hawk’s Professional Skater four as if it by no means existed. And that is together with the horrible pair of plastic skateboard peripheral-based mostly video games he labored on: Tony Hawk Journey and its comply with up, Shred.

The primary Tony Hawk’s Professional Skater debuted in 1999 on the unique PlayStation and was a runaway hit: 9 tightly designed ranges every with a handful of objectives (e.g., hit a excessive rating; acquire the 5 letters that spell out “S-Okay-A-T-E”; discover a hidden VHS tape). Oh, and every run lasted a grand complete of two minutes. The addictive, arcade-like pursuit of getting an ideal run led to large gross sales and writer Activision ordering a raft of sequels. The 2 releases that adopted modified the formulation barely with added tips to string out combos even additional and take scores even greater, however it was the fourth entry that considerably altered the collection.

An instance of the goals from Tony Hawk’s Professional Skater HD

Tony Hawk’s Professional Skater four featured big ranges you may combo all the best way throughout, a timer that solely kicked in when you began a mission and finish-recreation challenges designed to check probably the most hardcore of gamers. Within the years that adopted, the franchise went by way of a handful of identify modifications and have become bloated with options that made no sense, like racing round in tuner automobiles and the power to leap off your skateboard to climb onto rooftops. Professional Skater 5, regardless of its nomenclature, shouldn’t be a direct sequel to what got here earlier than it.

“With the later video games, [developers] needed to hold including stuff to justify the yearly launch,” says Robomodo President Josh Tsui. “We do not have that burden right here in order that’s actually freed us up so much.”

A fast tour of Robomodo’s Chicago workplace reveals the newest recreation’s again-to-fundamentals inspiration. A scorching pink Mattel hoverboard is propped up towards one wall; a replica of Digital Arts’ 2007 physics-based mostly skateboarding sim Skate lies on one desk; whereas a technique information for the Xbox launch title Tony Hawk’s Professional Skater 2x is on one other. Tsui’s workstation even has an Xbox and a replica of Professional Skater four at it, which ought to assist allay fan fears instilled by the lesser, later video games. And that is the place Tony Hawk’s Professional Skater 5 is available in.

“A number of the choices we made concerning the recreation have been [about] making it extra approachable.”

– Patrick Dwyer, Robomodo

The sport is decide-up-and-play by design: Balancing whereas doing a “guide” (a wheelie that allows you to proceed a combo after touchdown a bounce) or whereas sliding throughout a handrail is extremely straightforward to do even with a non-upgraded character. Whereas earlier than you’d need to continually modify stability so that you would not bail (learn: crash, breaking your combo and dropping any accrued factors), that is not the case right here. You do not have to maneuver instantly via the “SKATE” letters anymore both; get shut sufficient and you will kind of suck them in. It is these small tweaks that clean out tough edges the collection has suffered from for years and make the sport much less irritating to play from the outset.

“A variety of the choices we made concerning the recreation have been [about] making it extra approachable for individuals who do not have 12 – 15 years expertise [with the franchise],” Dwyer says. “It was a type of unstated issues that everybody knew needed to occur. In case you hand an previous recreation like Professional Skater four to someone, they will bail like 20 occasions in 5 minutes.”

However do not take this concentrate on accessibility as Robomodo alienating the hardcore. Actually, it means they are often much more brutal to these people. Every degree has 10 regular challenges (e.g., discover the hidden DVD; gather “S-Okay-A-T-E;” seize the letters spelling “combo” in a single combo — these types of issues), and finishing these opens up professional-degree challenges. Simply how exhausting are these? Attempt pulling off a one hundred fifty,000-level combo when you’ll be able to’t guide and your start line is a large ramp overlooking a specific degree. That is the place Robomodo’s actively taunting devoted gamers.

'Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5': something new, something borrowed

Tony Hawk’s Professional Skater 5 encompasses a saturated graphical look.

Dwyer says that is one thing they experimented with so much. He is watched me go from being rusty and squandering lots of of hundreds of factors by crashing, to having my muscle reminiscence kick in, leading to 200,000-level combos, to me as soon as once more struggling to land combos. “These are bastards,” he says with a barely suppressed glee. “There isn’t any higher option to clarify it than that.”

After a couple of hours of playtime with an admittedly small portion of the sport, it seems as if Dwyer and the Professional Skater 5 group at Robomodo might have succeeded of their mission. The gameplay feels enjoyable and balanced, nevertheless it additionally feels acquainted — perhaps a bit of too acquainted. The extent objectives Dwyer demoed have been akin to these in earlier Professional Skater releases. A number of maps are even religious successors (replete with comparable trick strains) to one of the best ones from video games previous together with “Bunker,” an amalgamation of “Hangar” from Professional Skater 2 and “Warehouse” from the collection debut.

“We’re conscious that folks may say one thing like that,” Dwyer says of Professional Skater 5‘s familiarity, “However actually, it isn’t a deterrent as a result of with ‘Faculty three,’ a few strains are comparable, however all of the stuff we have added to it assist flesh it out extra.”

“We stored the direct callbacks to ‘Faculty three’ and ‘Bunker,'” Tsui says.

“It is virtually like we’re stepping again in time a bit and shaking stuff up.”

– Josh Tsui, Robomodo

In fact, within the context of the complete recreation, the similarities won’t be as obtrusive. In reality, there have been a variety of unique ranges in Professional Skater 5‘s menu, together with a moon-physics-based mostly “Asteroid Belt.” It is arduous to fault Robomodo for mining the previous, although. The staff needs new gamers to expertise the franchise’s greatest moments and what higher approach to try this than by recreating a number of the collection’ most iconic areas?

Professional Skater 5, in contrast to any of the newer video games within the franchise (together with Robomodo’s fan-service remaster Tony Hawk’s Professional Skater HD from 2012) lastly seems like a real sequel and a return to type for the collection — not a diversion.

“It isn’t a pure development from Experience or Shred,” Tsui says. “It is virtually like we’re stepping again in time a bit and shaking stuff up.”

[Image credit: Robomodo/Activision]

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