Despite all of the bad publicity Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 was getting before the game even came out, I was excited to play it. Maybe it was because I grew up playing previous Tony Hawk games, or maybe it is because I was looking forward to playing a non-violent and more relaxed game — I’m not sure. Either way, I felt pretty disappointed after actually experiencing it.
All About That Lag
The first thing I noticed after booting the game and entering the first skatepark is that the multiplayer aspects of Pro Skater 5 is truly awful. Although it was highlighted time and time again by the developers, the 20-person skatepark idea simply doesn’t work, at least not the way it is in the game. Essentially, players are loaded into a skatepark by default with 19 or so other players, all of which are freely riding around the park. There’s no real way to cultivate interaction with the other players, other than bumping into them, which prompts a message saying that so and so bumped into you, and if anything, the other players are highly distracting. That’s partly because the skateparks simply aren’t big enough to comfortably hold 20 people, and also, because there is so much lag when playing with others.
I have a fairly fast internet connection, but that didn’t stop me from seeing other skaters move at highly sporadic speeds — one second they might be traveling at a snail’s pace, and the next they could outrun a cheetah. It ends up making the screen one big, jarring mess, taking away from any sort of fun that the multiplayer component could have had. There are some multiplayer games that players can compete in, such as one game where players try to kickflip to shoot each other with dodge balls, but even though I entered several lobbies for these games, no one else ever joined them. And, due to the poor reviews Pro Skater 5 has been getting, I doubt this issue will be fixed anytime soon.
The lack of players also took away from the Create-a-Park component of Pro Skater 5. Again, while this was something that was being advertised heavily by the developers, it doesn’t really work in the game. Basically, with Create-a-Park, players are able to make their own skateparks using predetermined areas. After picking an area, they can add in as many ramps, rails, and more as they like. It’s possible to create some pretty cool parks, if you have the time, but looking through the user made parks, which can be downloaded and played in, I saw that no one really had the time. Since there seem to be so few people playing, there were only a small handful of user made parks available to use, making the feature practically pointless.
Missions and Physics
So, after quickly learning that the multiplayer and create-a-park components really weren’t for me, I decided to enter a private lobby where I could freely skate by myself. To start, players only have access to one developer made skatepark, barring the ones that users can create and upload. In order to unlock more, players have to compete various timed missions within the park, such as having to skate through a number of rings within a small amount of time or having to score a certain number of points while grinding. The missions are basically the same for every same park, with the only difference being the location and how they are set up.
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Weirdly, despite the park being open, launching a mission loads up a separate instance of the park. That means that there is a teeny, tiny bit of loading time before and after each mission, which seemed both unnecessary and out of place. On top of that, if a player is skating in a private lobby, upon returning from a mission, he or she will be in the public lobby, filled with other players. I looked through the options, and found no way to fix this, besides simply shutting off my network connection in the PlayStation 4’s settings.
Unfortunately, while loading the missions is annoying, playing them can be even worse. See, Pro Skater 5 is still the combo-driven, point-getting game that past Tony Hawk games were, but something seems deeply off about it, which I blame on the game’s physics. It’s tough to explain without actually seeing it, but at times my character seemed to fall over for no reason, or somehow landed a trick even though he was literally about to smash his head into the floor. Or, at times I was able to perform complex tricks without even moving forward, meaning I just stood in one place, jumping and doing tricks. Everything seemed off, and I never could be sure if I would wipe out for some unknown reason, or do well for another weird reason.
Amazingly, even though the game’s graphics resemble some type of cross between a PS2, PS3, and PS Vita game, it still ran poorly. While I didn’t encounter any bugs at all, despite playing for hours upon hours, the frames-per-second constantly dipped for almost no reason at all. I’m talking about incredibly frustrating frame-rate lags that kept popping up throughout my time with the game that made the graphics worse than they looked, which is saying something.
Besides slightly resembling better and more entertaining Tony Hawk titles, the only other good thing about Pro Skater 5 is the character customization. While the create a character option is annoying hidden deep in the character menu, it does allow for players to earn and unlock different heads, bodies, and boards. I experimented with these for a while, making a monkey with a policeman’s body, or an alien with a female human’s body, or just some cool hipster with a cool, hipster skateboard. There are tons of possibilities, as long as you unlock content by playing the game, and they do actually add a fun component to the title.
However, despite the fun character customizations, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 suffers from a number of issues, including laggy multiplayer, dipping frame-rates, and off-putting physics. Sorry, Tony, but nostalgia can’t save you this time.
Review copy for Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 provided by publisher. Reviewed on PlayStation 4. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.