Time travel is real. I know, because the moment I launched the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and 2 Warehouse Demo, I was immediately thrust 20 years back in time. The opening is set to the heart-pumping anthem that is Rage Against The Machine’s “Guerrilla Radio.” I hadn’t even played the game yet and already I was reliving the days of unlocking each skater’s skate videos in the original games. Tony Hawk’s big air. Rodney Mullen’s ground tricks. Kareem Campbell. Steve Caballero. The newly added Nyjah Huston. The whole cast is here (or will be, on September 4th. For this Demo, it’s just Tony). It’s a huge celebration of skate culture before you even hit “Start Game.”
Then you jump into the game’s quickplay Single Session mode. The two-minute timer starts ticking down and you burst through the wooden barricade and down the ramp into the iconic warehouse that started it all. Just like the Warehouse Demo of old, there’s not much to “do” in this small level. There’s no secret tapes to collect (it’ll be in the room above the halfpipe, by the way). There are no SKATE letters scattered around. And the only score and combo goals are any artificial ones you impose on yourself, just seeing how high you can get. But it gets right to the heart of the gameplay mechanics, proving that Vicarious Visions recaptured the big air, long grind, enormous combo feel of Tony Hawk past. And that’s what’s key. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 this is not.
The last Tony Hawk’s game I played with any kind of regularity was 2006’s Tony Hawk’s Project 8, a game I picked up at launch with my PS3, so getting back into the groove of the combo-focused gameplay took some time. Slowly but surely the muscle memory returned and I went from a bit of button mashing hoping things would happen to actually stringing together decent combos.I started rediscovering the classic gaps and grinds from the original, whether it’s launching over the kicker or getting “Holy Shi…” by grinding around the entire ramp lip on the back wall. Channel Gap. Over the Pipe. Big Rail. They are all here, and that iconic camera shutter sound plays whenever you trigger them.
Unlike more recent skateboarding games that have given more granular control over the board and tricks, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and 2 goes back to the classic days of simple button inputs for tricks, with a special meter dictating the ability to do more extreme special tricks. Still, it doesn’t necessarily pay to button mash, and learning how to string together flips, grabs, grinds, manuals, and reverts for big combos is key. Landing a 900 off a quarter pipe is great, but landing a 900 and then reverting into a manual and hitting the Big Rail grind is even better.
Yes, you read that right. Reverts. Originally added in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 (personally my favorite game in the series), reverts are a quick spin of the board when coming down from vert tricks that allowed you to retain your combo by transitioning into a manual, using the revert to link the two. It became an essential combo feature throughout the series, and Vicarious Visions decided it was also an essential update to Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and 2.
Visually the updates to the Warehouse are staggering, especially when going back and looking at what the original game looked like. It actually looks like a warehouse now, instead of the low-resolution gray box with ramps and rails we fell in love with two decades ago. Yet through all the new realism granted to to the Warehouse filled with graffiti, new windows for natural lighting, and a ton of visual texture, it’s amazing how Vicarious Visions recaptured the arcade-like feeling of the classic games; and it doesn’t necessarily feel “dated.” Little elements help with quality of life, like the “tape error” visual effect that skips the animation for getting up after bailing, letting players get back to skating rather quickly.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and 2 Warehouse Demo – Learning to Skate
If there’s one downside to the Warehouse Demo, it’s that there’s no real “tutorial” to help players get the most out of their time with it. I stumbled on the revert quite by accident, mostly as fifteen-year-old muscle memory kicked in. You can navigate to the options menu to view the controls, but for the most part, the Warehouse Demo is a journey of skateboarding discovery. Which is all well and good, to be honest. Without any other goals to pursue in the level, consider this your pre-game practice arena ahead of the full launch on September 4th, so you don’t have to spend time getting used to the controls all over again. Learn your big air tricks, your reverts; nail being able to do wall plants to reverse grinds; practicing balancing your manuals. It’s been a long time, and it’s useful to have this refresher before embarrassing myself in the full game by bailing on a near million-point-combo in extended overtime.
And what’s a Tony Hawk’s game without the music, right? The Warehouse Demo features four songs from the full soundtrack, including Goldfinger’s “Superman” and Rage Against the Machine’s “Guerrilla Radio.” Knowing the importance of a good skate soundtrack, Vicarious Visions added the ability to skip tracks mid-gameplay by pressing in R3. You can also set up your own playlists, so if there are any songs on Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and 2’s massive soundtrack you aren’t a fan of, you can easily leave those out of your mixtape. (As a side note, how awesome would it be to set up that in-game song-skip feature with PlayStation’s Spotify integration, letting you skip to the next Spotify track using R3 while playing? I’m not even sure if that would be technically possible, but it’s worth mentioning in case the right person at Vicarious Visions reads this.)
Besides giving players a pretty good indication for how the full game will look at play, the Warehouse Demo hints at quite a few features locked away in grayed out menus that aren’t accessible in the demo. Alternate skate decks and skater outfits remain locked behind challenges. There’s an overall profile leveling system dictated by experience earned after each session. I was also earning some kind of currency after each run that I couldn’t use for anything in the demo.
The stylish new visual aesthetics of everything and all of these currently-locked features hint at some of the huge ways Vicarious Visions built on the foundations of the beloved Tony Hawk classics while creating a game with a unique identity all its own. The Warehouse Demo is a tantalizing taste of things to come, just serving in making the wait for September 4th that much harder. Until then, I’m going to go hit the Big Rail one more time, grinning gleefully that Tony Hawk is nailing the big air the series once had nearly two decades ago.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and 2 Warehouse Demo code provided by Activision. You can get access to the demo on August 14th by preordering the game. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and 2 is available to preorder on Amazon for only $39.99, or get the Collector’s Edition with Birdhouse skate deck for $99.99.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and 2 releases September 4th on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.