Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 was a gorgeous and mechanically incredible return for the previously tarnished series in 2020. Activision and Vicarious Visions brought the iconic skateboard gaming franchise back with style in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2. Not only did THPS 1+2 bring us back to the beginning, but it rebuilt the video game foundation of Mr. 900 into a thing of new, yet also nostalgic beauty that earned no shortage of praise throughout the year of its release. Now, with next-gen consoles out, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 has an upgrade available for Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5. So, I upgraded to the PS5 version and had a good look at what Vicarious did with their next-gen upgrade to an already great game.
Next-gen pro skate nostalgia
Activision and Vicarious Visions went into an upgrade of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 with a laundry list of improvements for the game. Some of the top-line priorities were bringing native 4K to the game and getting it to run at a buttery smooth 60 FPS (or 120 FPS at 1080p). Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 was already a pretty gorgeous game in the PS4 edition, so it was a little difficult to see any sort of drastic difference in the overall visuals, however it did run smooth as silk even on the busiest of levels. THPS 1’s City and THPS 2’s Marseilles and Bullring looked fantastic and ran with impressive clarity throughout. I will say that on my TV (a Samsung Smart 4K UHD TV), it felt like the lighting and texture effects looked a bit further cleaned up and sharpened, but it was the stable frame rate at the level of clarity it presented that I was most impressed with through my playtime.
Perhaps the second most impressive part is just how fast the PS5 upgrade of THPS 1+2 loads on the console as Vicarious optimized the game to take full advantage of the PS5’s SSD. Restarting a stage couldn’t have ever taken more than five seconds. Going back and forth between levels and entering a stage for the first time didn’t take much longer. THPS 1+2 never really had anything close to cumbersome loadtimes, but here they’re almost non-existent.
Activision and PlayStation also played up several other features for the PS5 version of THPS 1+2, such as haptic feedback and spatialized audio. These were far less noticeable. It’s not that THPS 1+2 sounds bad on the PS5, but it’s a little hard to concentrate on its noises when you’re trying to stick trick combos. When I took time to listen, it did sound good. The clatter and roll of wheels on concrete or vert ramps were distinct and had bluntness and echo where appropriate while each stage had a different kind of air flow and atmospheric noise about it. That said, it will likely get lost in the game’s soundtrack and gameplay, which is likely what most of us are here for anyways. Haptics? I barely noticed them. There was a little bit of unique feel and feedback on grinds, manuals, and reverts, but really nothing of that much substance.
Cross-gen save contrivances
I think one of the more annoying aspects of the PS5 upgrade was the way by which Activision goes about cross-gen save transfer. The standard instructions offered by Activision are as such: Have the PS4 version downloaded on your PS4, download the PS5 version to your PS5, go to your PS4 version, upload your save data to the cloud network, open the PS5 version, download the cloud save data you uploaded, and you’re good to go. Here’s why that’s obnoxious: You can load the PS4 version of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 onto your PS5. You can even transfer PS4 save data to your PS5. You’d think you could just convert the save into a PS5 save when you upgrade, but no. Even if you had the PS4 version loaded on your PS5, you still have to upload data to the cloud from the PS4 version, and then redownload it to your PS5 version of the game, all on the same machine.
Maybe live-service games like Dead by Daylight and Apex Legends have spoiled me in this regard. I haven’t had to transfer much single-player save data across consoles. Nonetheless, it feels like nonsensical extra steps to upload save data and download save data to and from the same machine to get it to work on an upgraded version of a game. Be prepared to deal with that silly hassle if you want to play your save on upgraded versions via the new consoles.
A sharp-dressed 900
Save transfer contrivances aside, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 got a pretty decent upgrade. Vicarious Visions didn’t go absolutely wild sprucing up the game. Most of the improvements just feel like thoughtful tweaks over the original that keep the proper form and feel intact. All in all, I’d say Vicarious improved where necessary and didn’t overdo it, which is fine by me. Even just blinks for load times would have made it a worthwhile upgrade. The other light touches just make an already very good thing a bit better. How good of a thing are we talking? Be sure to read our original review of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2 to see why it won Best Old School Throwback in our 2020 Shacknews Awards.
TJ Denzer posted a new article, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2 PS5 impressions: Next-gen 9 Club