I admit it. I am a massive Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater fan and have been since the first release way back in 1999. I’m not a skateboarder, but I quickly realized you didn’t need to be in order to enjoy the games. The series offered a perfect combination of mind boggling tricks with entertaining levels and exciting goals. I’d have to consider THPS 4 to be the highlight of the entire series. It was the second title on the “current-gen” consoles at the time (PS2/Xbox), had added great new features and some of the best levels and goals the series has seen.
I recall a direct quote from a developer after THPS 4’s release. “We will not be releasing another Tony Hawk next year. We will instead release one two years from now.” At the time, I was upset. Being a fanboi, I could have handled a new game every other month. Two years was asinine! Now my mind has changed. Neversoft needs to forget about releasing another Tony Hawk title next year and focus on publishing one in 2009. The reason? Quality.
With the release of Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland, fans were really beginning to become disgruntled with the series, due to its repetitiveness and lack of new standout features. The following year, we had Tony Hawk’s Project 8, which I reviewed shortly after the launch. It was the first “next-gen” release, so we all expected big things. Indeed, the game was huge, the goals were challenging and the graphics were sharp. But to our disappointment, the game still was laced with blatant issues and bugs that were not cleaned up before launch.
This could be due to a lackluster game engine, but I blame it more on the fact that there has been a new Tony Hawk title every single year since the original. This methodology might work well for athletic sport titles, but those are not completely new games. Sure, they have upgraded graphics, modes and rosters, but the basic premise of the game never changes.
I ran out to pick up Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground the other morning and played it most of the day. It became clear to me rather quickly that the game was still the result of a rushed product. In the first hour I experienced walking through a wall and having a goal noted as completed two minutes after it was actually completed. I found it odd to walk away from that goal, only to be stopped moments later to be congratulated with help of a huge banner screen!
I admit that I am still enjoying the game, but the first reviews around the web have been giving scores at around 80% and lower, with 70% being average from the biggest game-review sites. Being a fan, I don’t want to see this series die off soon simply because of a few lackluster titles. Neversoft needs to spend two years creating a masterpiece, especially with major competition now from EA, with their skate. series. EA took the time to create their game and it earned itself 90% ratings on average. That’s not a coincidence! Do I really have to say it? Quality over quantity… that’s what matters to gamers.