The odd thing about aging is just how often it makes you look to the past, perhaps as a way to cope with an ever-shrinking future. The resulting nostalgia is warm and comforting, the perfect salve for a darkening world. Unfortunately, nostalgia’s healing touch can sometimes soften the rough edges on the things we love, making them seem better than they truly were when we first experienced them. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 2—a bundle that remasters two iconic late-1990s and early-2000s skateboarding games—doesn’t fall into that deceptive trap. In fact, this PC game proves that, yes, those brash and exciting action-sports titles are as good as our memories recall, but they now exist with a beautiful visual overhaul and new, bountiful options that makes them even better than what we remember.
Familiar and New Faces
It’s been more than two decades since the first Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater debuted, a factor that the game smartly acknowledges. In 2020, Hawk and his skateboarding cohorts are no longer the faces of the X Games and underground youth culture; they’re middle-aged people, and they appear in the game with middle-aged visages.
They’re joined by eight new bloods who are roughly the same age as Tony Hawk, Kareem Campbell, Steve Caballero, Chad Muska, and the seven other skaters were when they appeared in the original game. This combination of classic and fresh permeates every aspect of the game, making the Vicarious Visions-developed Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 2 one part beautiful remaster and one part exquisite remake.
The familiar gameplay returns mostly untouched. You skate 19 varied indoor and outdoor environments, such as a warehouse or city street, with the goal of racking up big point totals, netting large trick combo totals, or collecting hard-to-reach items. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 2 remains an arcade game through and through, one that lets you make huge leaps, grind rooftops, and bust out complex tricks with little effort—and it feels so good.
A simple control scheme lets you pull off a trick by simultaneously pressing a button and making a direction pad input. Despite being fast-moving, nimble characters, the skaters have a weight that makes ollies and ledge/rail grinding immensely satisfying. Plus, learning how to properly link tricks to form combos gives Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 2 a delicious experimental aspect that keeps you coming back for just one more session. And another. And another.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 2 is not at all the skateboarding simulation that the physics-based Skater XL strives to be, and that’s fine. Not everyone wants to practice a move over and over again, mastering footwork and board placement. Sometimes you simply want to grind a bench while looking infinitely cool. In fact, the game has the “No Bail” and “Perfect Rails Balance” gameplay options to help newcomers achieve that goal without penalty.
The classic ollie, grab, grind, and manual moves—the cornerstones of the first two Tony Hawk games—appear here, but Vicarious Visions realized that skateboarding games have evolved a lot since 2000. With that in mind, the dev team also includes the revert, a move that debuted in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3, that lets you link vert combos with manuals. Technically, a move from the third Tony Hawk probably shouldn’t appear in a remix of the first two Tony Hawk games, but its inclusion feels so right from a gameplay perspective. Excluding the revert would’ve given Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 2 a slightly outdated feel. Purists, however, can delight in knowing that Vicarious Visions includes the original control scheme from Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2. So, you can play the games as you first experienced them.
Single-player game sessions invite you to participate in goal-based parks and competition-based parks. The former tasks you with completing a mission, such as collecting the S-K-A-T-E letters strewn about a level. The latter tasks you with securing a gold, silver, or bronze medal. Completing challenges unlocks levels, making the contests very much worth your time.
Many Multiplayer Modes
Besides the solo modes, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 2 boasts two online multiplayer modes that let you skate with others: Jam and Competitive. Jam is a casual multiplayer mode that sees you compete with up to seven others in Combo Challenge, Score Challenge, Trick Attack and other competitions. The top four skaters place rank as winners. Competitive mode, on the other hand, only crowns a single winner. Both Jam and Competitive have their own leaderboards, and Free Skate modes for skating free from pressure.
That’s not all the game has to offer, either. Further replicating that retro feel, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 2 includes local, split-screen multiplayer action, and it has two exclusive modes: Tag (the person who’s “it” for the least amount of time wins) and HORSE (a variation on the traditional combo challenge). So, even if you dislike venturing online, you can still enjoy multiplayer Hawk.
You’ll earn experience points or money in each mode you play, be it offline or online. With experience points, you level up your selected character and unlock new clothing, new decks, and stat points to improve its skills. With money, you purchase gear in the in-game store. The gear features cool, real-world brands, such as Adidas, Nike, and Tony Hawk’s own Birdhouse. Naturally, you can outfit the default characters with boosted stats and gear, or you can give it to a created character.
Returning from Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 is Character-A-Skater, a mode that lets you build a custom skateboarder. There aren’t many options for faces and hair (you basically mix and match prefab assets) and none for body type (besides male or female), which is a bit disappointing. In that regard, Daemon X Machina, a game in which you spend most of your time inside a mecha, has more facial and body type options available. Still, Tony Hawk has more character customization options than Skater XL.
On the upside, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 2 has many ways to customize your skater beyond skin color, hair type, hats, socks, pants, shirts, and other clothing items. You can make your character skate regular or goofy, determine how they push, and tweak maximum speed, ollie height, or other skills-based traits.
Characters aren’t the only things you can create. Also returning from Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 is Create-A-Park, a mode that lets you build skateparks and share them with others via the internet. New to this mode are tweakable Smart Pieces that let you bend and warp set pieces to create even more creative parks. Vicarious Visions and the community have created genuinely wild skateparks, including one featuring Giza-like pyramids. This is a nice addition to the game’s well-designed, default skateparks, and it gives the game a steady influx of new content.
Riffs and Railslides
Tony Hawk games are known just as much for their soundtracks as they are for their gameplay, and this game continues that tradition. Except for a few tracks that couldn’t be licensed, publisher Activision managed to wrangle up the 22 other pop-punk and hip-hop songs that were featured in the original games. The soundtrack features Bad Religion’s “You,” Goldfinger’s “Superman,” and Rage Against the Machine’s “Guerilla Radio,” songs that capture skateboarding’s rebellious spirit.
Joining the familiar songs are 37 tracks that are new to the games. They include A Tribe Called Quest’s “Can I Kick It?,” Machine Gun Kelly’s “Blood Valentine,” and Zebrahead’s “All My Friends Are Nobodies.” For the most part, the new songs blend well with the classic ones, to create a terrific skating soundtrack.
Currently, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 2 is an Epic Games Store “exclusive” on PC, with no word on whether publisher Activision will bring it to Steam and other video game marketplaces. Don’t let that stop you from playing this masterpiece. Please.
Fortunately, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 2 doesn’t require the most demanding computer components. To play the game, your gaming PC needs at least an AMD FX 6300 or Intel Core i3-4340 CPU, AMD HD 7950 or Nvidia GeForce GTX 660 GPU, 8GB of RAM, 19.4GB of storage, and the Windows 10 operating system.
In a nice touch, Vicarious Visions lets you play with uncapped frame rates or at a locked 60, 90, 120, or 144 frames per second. My gaming desktop, a rig that packs an Intel Core i5 CPU, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti GPU, and 16GB of RAM, pushed polygons along at a 60fps rate (at 1080p resolution).
There are a surprising number of graphics options. You can tweak HDR, render resolution, shadow quality, texture quality, anti-aliasing, brightness, and other graphics options. The game also supports FreeSync, G-Sync, 21:9 monitors, and 4K pixel resolution.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 2 is a joyous return to form for a series that has fallen on hard times in recent years. Its thrilling gameplay and pulsating energy will satisfy older folks longing for a game type that publishers have ignored this generation, as well as younger people who are looking for a ridiculously entertaining diversion with a blood-pumping, head-nodding punk and hip-hop soundtrack. The gameplay engine, one that defines arcade-style skateboarding, is honed to near-perfection, and will hopefully be the foundation for future Tony Hawk games.
We need more. Not on an annual basis (all game series quickly go to hell once they’re released on a yearly basis), but at least once per console generation. Activision needs to understand the prolonged gaming community thirst for well-crafted Tony Hawk games.
But that’s a potential future. For the moment, we have an outstanding extreme sports game in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 2. Let’s enjoy it, because right now, there’s no longer a reason to look to the past.
Stay up to date with all of our latest PC game coverage by joining PCMag’s Steam Curator page. There, you’ll find all of our Steam reviews, as well as in-depth previews of upcoming Steam titles.
|Product Price Type||Street|
|Product Games Platform||PC|
|Product Games Genre||Sports|
|Product Games ESRB Rating||T for Teen|