THE once great skateboarding franchise comes off the rails.
Game review: Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5
Platform: Xbox One (reviewed) / Playstation 4 / Xbox 360 / Playstation 3
THE Tony Hawk’s series has been in exile since the turn of the last decade, the legacy of a glut of underwhelming releases that did little to recapture its glory days under the stewardship of Neversoft. Its reemergence has come as something of a surprise, with little in the way of publicity or previews. Now we know why. Pro Skater 5 is indisputably the worst entry in a once proud franchise that should still be in the playtesting stage of development. That it has been deemed fit for a full retail release is nothing short of an insult to fans.
Before this review touches upon some of its failings - and there are many - one overriding criticism deserves precedence. This is quite simply a broken game, evident from the first few seconds after you load it up, when the sound effects that are meant to accompany the Activision logo break up and judder. Once you reach the menu screen and begin the skateboarding action in earnest, things get worse. Much worse.
Texture pop-in is a persistent plague
The frame rate is inconsistent, even when you are the only skater in an arena, while texture pop-in is a persistent plague on the game’s substandard graphics. Ride your board and it is a matter of time before you realise the physics engine is also woefully undercooked, as your player falls behind scenery and solid ground. If this were an indie game, such faults would be understandable. In a full price console release, they are unforgivable.
Even when the game design works as it is meant to, it feels clunky and wasteful. Entering a skatepark involves a reasonably lengthy load time, and if you want to start a challenge, you will be propelled back to a generic loading screen before being plunked back in exactly the same arena. With no noticeable processing demands at play, we can only assume this is the result of rushed, sloppy coding.
The game is not fit for release
All of this means that only true diehard fans of the series will persist in playing through a game with more bugs than an Australian taxi driver’s windscreen. The absence of affection or imagination on show is unfortunate, but the decision to pretend that the game is in acceptable working order is even worse. It is contemptuous of a dwindling band of players who still have time for the Tony Hawk’s brand. After Pro Skater 5, their number will shrink further.
TIPS AND TRICKS:
The glitches and bugs seem to be at their worst when you are with other player in a skatepark, so if you want to plough through some of the challenges, go solo.
Take care when transitioning into a grind as the same button is also used for the frankly annoying slam move, which will bring your combo to an abrupt halt.
Be wary when skating around the edges of a park as the camera can be unpredictable and sometimes leaves you unsighted.