Activision is no stranger to taking a game and turning it into a popular franchise. Before it did this with Guitar Hero and Call of Duty, the publisher returned to greatness with Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, a skill-based skateboarding game produced by Neversoft Entertainment. For years Hawk dominated the gaming scene, with players building combos into the millions while completing objectives.
Since then the series lost focus, but Activision learned from its mistakes, and with Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5, the company went back to the old-school magic that hooked us so many years ago.
This sequel, produced by Robomodo, has a lot in common with older games in the series. You select a pro skateboarder (including Hawk, Lizzie Armanto, David Gonzalez and a handful of others), the desired area and begin skating. A number of objectives will be available, like knocking over specific items in the stage (stacks of tires), collecting bonus letters or building a high enough score to stand up there with the skateboarding legends, by chaining tricks and completing special moves like Hawk's custom 900 spin.
Robomodo knows what made the previous games work, based on our hands-on time with the game. Executing grabs, spins, flip tricks, manuals and grinds feels surprisingly natural, and chaining tricks is quite simple, though hard to master when it comes to getting into the 100,000 point tier and above.
There's even more to the gameplay. Along with an improved manual system that allows you to easily chain moves, there's also a new slam technique. This allows your skateboarder to speed towards the ground quicker than usual. This serves two purposes. First, it lets you land an aerial trick even faster, in case you're trying to beat the clock. Second, if you're coming off a ramp and heading for an awkward crash, the slam technique lets you right yourself so you can land with ease.
The better you perform in Pro Skater 5, the more you'll be able to unlock, including new skate parks to explore, bonus skateboarders (there are hidden characters) and parts for customization.
In Pro Skater 5, players will be able to customize. A variety of features will be available when it comes to building a skate park, including rails, walls, ramps and so much more. In addition, the PS4 and Xbox One versions of the game will support online features, so parks can be shared with the community. If you're not the creative type, don’t worry. You can download created parks.
Details on create your own skater haven't been revealed, but we expect a number of options to become available, including body builds, haircuts, outfits and several other features; it remains to be seen if the option to design your own skate deck is in the cards.
When it comes to multiplayer, up to 20 people will be able to take part in a skating session, either sharing their time in a specific park or issuing challenges to one another on the fly.
Furthermore, Pro Skater 5 should feature some of the biggest skating territory to date. Although we only managed to try the garage level, there appears to be an outdoor shopping mall. That said, we hope old favorites, like the school and the outer space arena from Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2, make a return.
It's good to see the series return to form. We'll see how Pro Skater 5 fares when it arrives on September 29.
Watch the new Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 trailer and let us know what you think.