Tony Hawk Pro Skater HD

The Birdman is back on form

Muscle memory, or to give it its more scientific name motor learning, is a fascinating thing. It's the thing that gives you the seemingly supernatural ability to touch type, ride a bike or play guitar with practically zero conscious effort, but it's also the thing that could cause you to dopily wash your hair twice during your morning shower because you can't remember doing it the first time.

Muscle memory still has the capacity to surprise us. No sooner had we rolled into Tony Hawk Pro Skater HD's iconic warehouse level, our thumbs took over, reeling off a sequence of grabs, grinds and manuals we had no idea had been recorded and stored somewhere deep in our nervous system. The awakening of those long-forgotten skills is as much an element of the game's assault on your nostalgia nodes as the classic level layouts and the tunes from the late 90s punk soundtrack.


This is Tone without the bloat - long before the extended cast of Jackass arrived and put their feet up on the coffee table. There's the return of the two minute time limit, the same classic objectives and the seven locations are a selection of highlights from the first two games. Features that diluted the later games in the series, such as the barmy mini-games and the clunky ability to step off your board and run around, don't make the cut.

What's offered up is both a control system from the generally accepted zenith of the series and the potential for new lines and routes through beloved levels. The Mall level for example, which debuted in the manual-free THPS1, is an entirely different beast now that you can hypothetically string together a combo that runs the entire length of the course.

Further freshness comes from the addition of online multiplayer to these classic levels. You might have been king of your cul-de-sac when it came to Graffiti on School II back in the year 2000, but opening competition up to the wider world of Live, both in direct competition and the leaderboards, adds a degree of longevity the original two games couldn't possibly have matched.


That's not to say this HD remake is complete. The course creator from THPS2 would have benefited from an HD and Live enabled revival, but it's nowhere to seen. Even more troubling is the absence of Horse mode and, with it, the opportunity to snigger over the process of conjuring the rudest words you can think of that still fit into the character limit. Even if it was in there, split screen local multiplayer is another feature that has gone AWOL in the leap to 720p. And it's inherited a few of the foibles that niggled in the originals too - falling through the world and performing ridiculous degrees of rotation before the game respawns you is a rite of passage we're pleased newcomers will have the chance to experience as well.

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