Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5 (Superman 64 2)

How do you review a new entry in a beloved franchise that was developed by talentless people (just like us) in the same time frame it took me to write this? Incredibly harshly of course!

DISCLAIMER: This article originally appeared during a trial 'Era' - when we were known as NoClipp. Times have since changed. Our garbage content hasn't.

Coming into THPS 5 I was not expecting much. I knew developer Robomodo didn't exactly have an illustrious track record on the series, or on any game for that matter. It just felt like enough time had elapsed for the world to have its next arcade skateboarding fix. A bare bones title that hearkened back to the fundamentals of the first 4 core games would have been suffice, as long as it was mechanically and technically sound. Unfortunately, this game suffers from severe engine glitches and bugs that render it almost unplayable. To rub insult to injury, the level design, presentation, features and gameplay (essentially everything) also suffer from the same fate of abysmal mediocrity.

The rushed development is immediately apparent as soon as this virus is inserted inside your system. Despite the on-disc data measuring in at a paltry 4.6gb, you're presented with a whopping 7+GB patch which is absolutely imperative to playing. Without it, you'll only be granted access to the tutorial and credits as it seems the game wasn't ready to be shipped on disc. If you're a gamer without internet this is a disguised blessing, as at this point you should do a 900 and run. (yep I wrote that) Activi$ion insinuated that the update was merely to address server and connectivity issues but there is not a chance in hell that is true, as that aspect is just as shit as the rest of it!

Don't find yourself on any THPS5 leaderboard unless you want to be vilified as a loser.

After laughing at the company introductions as they glitch visually and audibly, the far below par development begins to reveal itself with an immediately apparent, low budget, C-grade presentation. This would be fine if it were sold for $10 and advertised as such, but THPS5 was released at an incredibly ballsy full price. If alarm bells weren't already ringing they certainly should be now, as this package is incredibly bare bones with barely any content. Don't let the filler Skater Bio and Credits sections fool you, they are merely padding to hide the lack of gameplay modes. Oh and does that say Customize skater instead of Create-A-Skater? I'll get to that later.

For now let's focus on the fundamentals found inside Tony Hawk's Pro Skater. To me, it's about skateboarding in various locales, (both realistic & fantastical)  trying to complete insane combos and objectives that strictly adhere to an arcade style, while punk and skating culture oozes throughout. There have been storylines and other modes infused over the years, but at Pro Skater's heart the above always stands true. Sadly in THPS 5, even this basic principle is missing, and nothing showcases this more than the very first level in the game "The Berrics".

Usually in video games, the first level showcases what's in store for the rest of the experience, albeit at a more forgiving difficulty. Unfortunately the Berrics does just that it's a completely uninspired, unenjoyable, pathetically designed and technically inferior, embarrassing mess. It's essentially another warehouse; an empty space with a few kickers and half-pipes found throughout that lacks any effort or hindsight. It's completely bland in every regard, to the point that I'm sure many Create-A-Parks found in THPS3 would eclipse this "professionally crafted" stage.

The rest of the levels somehow manage to fare much worse, falling to be even more lifeless and uninspired that I started to think it must have been their end-goal. Even the rampant and blatant product placement can't hide the abundance of blank spaces. Bonfire Beach is probably the best level but that's not saying much, Mega Park is another cliche park filled with speed pads to differentiate itself except makes you uncontrollable, Rooftops is just a convoluted mess, Asteroid belt runs at quite possibly 2 frames per second and Mountain is just a typical downhill slope with some ramps and rails carelessly thrown in. Hilariously, fan favourite and infamous Maps "School" and "Bunker" have once again returned, yet almost unbelievably are tens times worse than they've ever been! Each of these levels are also riddled with gimmicky power-ups, that try to add an element of fun to the mix, but fall flat on their face more than Tony "900" Hawk does when you try to control him. Playing through the missions to unlock the rest of the game for the sake of documenting it was absolute torture, to the point that I think North Korea are actually considering it to inflict pain on its enemies.

Embarrassed as an Australian that our flag is in this failed abortion. Plus the menu font is re-used for the 'Golden Springs' Logo here. Sad. 

I should also note that Robomodo included a very basic level editor which enables players to share their creations online to hide the fact that there is barely any of their own material, but due to the utter failure that THPS 5 has become, user parks are almost non-existent.

The missions suffer from the same fate, as they are also unbelievably uninspired and lame. Does frustratingly knocking giant balls out of a pool, pointlessly collecting 100's of Ice cream cones or zoning through rings (yes just like Superman fucking 64 and just as bad!) sound like fun to you? Or how about playing a quick game of Tony says which simply doesn't work or finding DVD's, CD's and collectables that aren't even hidden? Of course it doesn't because you're not intellectually challenged like the developers at Robomodo and know what fun actually is! That's a surprisingly large sampling of whats to offer as well, as these missions, along with your typical High Score/Combo (same thing really) are heavily recycled on each level, and become more tedious with each appearance.

To coincide with the poor level design and mission structure, there is an incredible amount of technical issues that render THPS5 borderline unplayable. The series has always been renowned for having tight controls, mechanics and well... gameplay that works while Neversoft was at the helm, but that's no longer the case. I've never had an issue with tricks not registering or combo's randomly ending until now and it's a frustratingly frequent occurrence. Plus there's a "Slam" mechanic mapped to the grind button which is utterly appalling, as literally everyone who holds that button in anticipation of their next grind will be delightfully slammed to the ground instead. (There's also no way to rectify this) Grinding in itself is also broken, as you seemingly snap to a rail a mile away instead of the intended one directly in front of you.

In fact, I could be here all day listing the fundamental bugs with this game, that I've decided to be a lazy cunt just like Robomodo and jot a few down instead. Oh boy, where do I begin? Well... The points multiplier is broken, many objectives don't register, the physics are bizarre, the geometry glitches, the music stutters, the game runs at 10fps, momentum is broken, spine transfers are broken, it constantly crashes the console, textures take forever to load, mission markers don't register, basic HUD elements overlap each other, the clipping constantly becomes non-existent... (my favorite, derp)

 No you fucking don't! (Taken from Robomodo's website)

Now that the key glitches have been listed, it's time to focus on the issues from a design perspective, and the vast majority of the problems in this category are because content and abilities are absent that were included in many other entries in the series. Most of these are incredibly basic, and that's why they piss me off the most. To begin, you cannot complete multiple missions at once under the usual 2 minute time limit. You have to pick each one individually. Better yet, to select a new mission you have to return to free skate, bare multiple loading screens and then return to try another. Don't expect to quickly retry a mission you may be having trouble with either, as the Retry feature takes a crippling amount of time to return you to the starting point and is rage inducing. If you feel like changing missions while you're already completing another, there's no other option but to return to the main menu, re-select a level, and then pick your mission again as there's no "End Run' to select. How does that happen??

Other fundamentally missing features include: No Customisation, No true Create-A-Skater, (You can only edit an existing skater's cosmetics) No NPC's in levels due to apparent design choices, no trick editing, basic core tricks to the series are missing, no Vert or Grind trick switching, no music information, no quick bail, no sharp turns, map view adds nothing, no competitions, no GRAFFITI, even the B button doesn't cancel out of menu's, there are less levels included than the original released in 1999, no content period...

It needs to be noted that Robomodo, despite hailing a return to the classic staples of the Pro Skater Franchise, also tried to take it into a different direction. That being of an always connected experience which was meant to fuse the single and multiplayer components together, This was a definite fail, as it simply doesn't work. The idea was that while you are playing through the included levels, other players doing the same will be included in your game to make them feel more dynamic and let you challenge each other if felt necessary. Instead, you'll find skaters standing stationary in the starting position for the entire run. If you're lucky enough to encounter a player who's active on the stage, it doesn't change a thing. The only thing you'll want to do is be an asshole and try to collide into them to ruin their combo line. Of course this doesn't affect a thing and you'll pass right through, except the game sometimes might tell you that you ran into "xxBonerPussSlayer69xx" if that's any consolation.

Even if Tony Hawks Pro Skater 5 was technically polished and functioned perfectly, it would still be an utter disgrace to the franchise. The level design and mechanics are so far removed from where they should be that it's obvious Robomodo had no idea what made Tony Hawk's Pro Skater great to begin with. Even with an apparently short development cycle imposed by Activision, the effort made here is unacceptable. This series deserved better and there was a reason it was so highly acclaimed commercially and critically. Maybe if the developers played through the series and had some talent, they could have discovered why that was. It's not like they were starting from scratch, they had over 15 years of history to learn or even copy from. There's no excuse for this. The fans deserved better. I won't cut Robomodo any slack as this isn't their first chance. Ride 1 & 2 were absolute filth.