The reveal of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 was music to the ears of many of the series’ fans — but everything since its unveiling has been rather underwhelming. Now, a last-minute shift in art style has added yet another layer of doubt onto a game that should have marked a welcome return for a beloved franchise.
The latest round of screenshots released by developer Robomodo feature a novel response to the criticism levelled at earlier images from the game: cel shading. However, it’s clear that this isn’t a complete overhaul, rather some sort of filter that’s been overlaid on top of previously created models.
It’s difficult to say just how well that strategy has paid off. There’s something awkward about the realistically rendered characters being over-saturated with colour and given a comic-book outline. In some ways it’s an improvement, but it’s also rather jarring to look at.
More impressive is the way that the technique has rescued the game’s environments. Formerly devoid of any sort of life, the outdoor sections in particular seem to have seen a great benefit from this visual overhaul. Effects like the electric charge present on some rails also have a much more arresting look now than they did before.
However, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 still isn’t what you would call an attractive game, especially considering the power of modern consoles. It’s odd that the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of the game will be missing online multiplayer, as they certainly seem to have been the lead platforms during development.
There might be some truth to the speculation that the game started out as a mobile title, before plans changed and a console release was decided upon. Based on how late in development this graphical shift came, Robomodo certainly seems to be a studio that can make a huge left-turn at a moment’s notice.
Graphical issues aside, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 will live or die based on its gameplay. Fans will be looking for a modern twist on the tried-and-tested formula of the series, and any great deviation will be met with a great deal of disappointment.
Early impressions haven’t been all that promising, but there’s still a slim chance that the finished product will be a pleasant surprise. This is a title that seemed like a dream come true for fans when it was first announced, but everything we’ve seen since that reveal has been more and more underwhelming.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 is set to release for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on September 29, 2015. A PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 release will follow on November 10.