Robomodo’s attempt to resurrect the long-dormant Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series is not a success — in fact, fans of previous games will likely see it as a slap in the face.
Even for a developer with the less-than-stellar reputation of Robomodo, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 should have been a simple project to execute. The core gameplay of the series is the key — and as it grew further from that basis in the 1990’s, that’s when players began to cool on the franchise.
Immediately, it’s obvious that the feel of the mechanics assembled by Neversoft has not been successfully replicated by the studio. Anyone who’s spent any amount of time with previous entries will be able to tell the difference very quickly; the skaters in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 are somehow both bereft of any real weight and also entirely sluggish in their movements.
In short, the game is not as crisp as the excellent quartet of releases that kicked the series off. However, there’s still some fun to be had stringing combos together with manuals, reverts, and grinds. In fact, the first level in the game — a fairly faithful pastiche of the classic Warehouse and Hangar levels — is on the verge of being an enjoyable flashback.
Unfortunately, it’s the best level in the game, and the only one that demonstrates any awareness of the franchise’s best qualities. Every stage thereafter is a stoic mess of familiar elements that doesn’t manage to capture the flow or the feel of even the worst Tony Hawk’s games.
Among the worst offenders is the revamped version of the classic School II stage. In some ways it’s too similar to the original, but the additions made here are uniformly for the worse. It’s impossible to think that someone would rather skate around School III than its predecessor.
But even then, basic level design isn’t the worst offender, as the mission structure kills any sense of engagement. The loading times and awkward methods of accessing the content is bad enough, but the missions are uniformly bereft of entertainment or ingenuity. This isn’t a problem that can be solved via free DLC.
Elements from previous titles like high score challenges and hidden video tapes hold up well; it’s Robomodo’s attempt to emulate the stage-specific goals that really fall flat. For one, they’re generally reused over several levels with minor changes at best — and even once is too many in some cases.
One challenge sees players tasked with executing tricks before an arbitrary timer causes their head to explode. Another has them knocking barrels into a pool — notable for just how tedious it is to complete. A particularly scrappy test centers around target practice with a sloppy projectile weapon tied to flip tricks. None are any fun.
Things get worse in later stages when the decent core mechanics get flipped on their head. For example, there’s a double-jump power up on the obnoxious Rooftops level that is particularly egregious and doesn’t feel like it was tested for very long at all.
Of the many problems that Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 suffers from, its failure to learn from previous entries in the series is the worst. The physics on show here raise the question whether anyone at Robomodo has stepped on a skateboard — but other issues ask whether they’ve even played the earlier games in the series. It’s possible that someone unfamiliar with classics like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 could squeeze some enjoyment out of this limp effort, but fans hoping for something of a reunion tour got a dodgy cover band instead.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 is available now for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Game Rant reviewed the PS4 version for this review.