Saturday 10 October 2015

What's THPS5 Got To Do With It?

Recently (about two months ago now) I bought a PS4, and it's taken over my life a fair amount, and I think What If I Had A Music Blog has suffered a little due to me putting slightly less time into it. Probably not a particularly noticeable lack of #content, but just maybe some stuff that wasn't as good as it could have been. In light of this, I have some thoughts that I would like to share about a game that I recently purchased for my PS4.

Which leads us to the title:

What's THPS5 Got To Do With It?

This is something I've considered for a while, I have a platform to share things on, it's mine and I can do what I want with it. So I don't think I should need to be limited solely to music related things. Tony Hawk Pro Skater 5 has received a plethora of bad press, some justified and rightly so, but some that just seems to be slating the game because everybody else is. I thought I'd chime in with some thoughts because reasons.

Round One

I pre-ordered this game, that's no secret. It's also no secret that THPS5 came with a whopping 7.7GB release day patch - which I noted was larger than the game that had installed itself on to my PS4 in the first place... Anyway, I'm looking past this, it's what's on the inside that counts, right? My first experience of this game was offline and without the patch, and you know what, I had NO ISSUES, not a single one. I was even being extra vigilant just in case something blink-and-you-miss-it happened. It didn't, well not really. There was an instance where I was already bailing and I just got thrown a little further than necessary, BUT COME ON. Did it really have a huge affect on my gameplay? No, not in the slightest. And if everyone wasn't so up in arms about it in the first place, I never would have even noticed.

I enjoyed my first bout of gameplay too. I completed the tutorial because it's been a while since I've played a Tony Hawk game, and tutorials are important. I thought the tutorial was great, both as a refresher course for veterans as well as really simple and easy to pick up for beginners. Great work. Then on we move to the first level, The Berrics. Remember that I am still playing offline at this point, so I'm not entered into any of the online lobbies and loading between missions was slightly quicker for me. I think it's also worth noting that I hadn't played a Pro Skater game before; I've owned a variety of titles ranging from Underground to Project 8 to Ride, but never a Pro Skater. It became quickly apparent that the types of challenges in THPS5 were not the types of challenges that I've been particularly good at in the previous titles. Nevertheless, on I skated and you know what? I was having a good time.

Continued Gameplay

First level complete (well, complete enough so that I could move on to the next), on skate to Bonfire Beach! Which is far more visually pleasing than the former, there's more going on, there are in-level portals which are cool although they do make super weird noises if you're anywhere near them. By this time I've downloaded the patch and I'm playing online, and although loading between missions and the lobby isn't going to kill me, it is taking noticeably longer than when I was offline.

My problem with THPS5 is that it's just not particularly exciting. The beach level is as far as I've got, because I'm not particularly interested in playing for any longer, nor are there any real in-game rewards that are pushing (or pulling, I guess) me to complete any more of the game. I'm extremely prize driven, and within this game in particular, I'm not getting enough back for the time that I (as a pretty rubbish virtual skater and combo maker) am putting in. That's the issue, this game does what it does and not much else. Part of me thinks that they really could have made this work had it been targeted at a younger audience, but nostalgia is the sole factor that has led to a large portion of players picking it up. But then the more you think about it, it's hard to picture a younger audience even getting on board (pun intended) because it's just not that enticing.

Things I Didn't Notice Until Someone Pointed Them Out

I have spent A LOT of time reading and listening to reviews and discussions and watching live streams of THPS5. More than is probably healthy for an actual human being. IGN's review is probably the one that is most balanced and relevant overall.

On some points, I've stood my ground, I didn't encouter any glitches or frame rate issues at all... almost to the point where I don't believe that they actually exist. But there were a lot of things that I didn't really have a problem with until I heard someone else had a problem with them and I was left in a state of "wait, what? Oh yeah, I guess that's actually pretty annoying."

Something that I did note myself, but couldn't work out if I'd dreamt or not was the lack of trick variations. In previous Tony Hawk games (later PS2 titles) there were numerous variations of tricks that you could do whilst manualing or grinding or lip tricking. None of these are present in THPS5 which I thought was weird and pretty regressive. Also, when you're as lazy as I am and building high scores basically comes down to balancing on the lip of a pool whilst button bashing until your time runs out, this was actually pretty detrimental. I'm also quite gutted about the characters. Unless I'm missing a huge aspect of this game, I loved building my skater from scratch, making her/him look exactly how I wanted, but now all I can do is customise the pros, and by "customise" what the game really means is just 'change to a different set outfit'. Where's the fun in that?

I've Drawn Some Conclusions

Am I annoyed that I spent £40 on this game? No. Will this game go down in history as one of the worst games ever? No, we'll all have forgotten it exists by the new year. Was this game rush-built and rush-released due to Activision's contract with the Tony Hawk "brand" ending this year? Probably. Will we ever see a new Tony Hawk game again? Proably not. Is anybody really that bothered about that? Definitely not. You'll find me happily replaying American Wasteland on PS2 until my hands fall off.

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