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Why Tony Hawk Pro Skater 5 Was A Complete Flop

When it first came out, the "Tony Hawk's Pro Skater" series was groundbreaking, and over its mostly highly praised lifetime it's become a billion-dollar franchise. Even all these years later, there's no feeling quite like finally landing a complex sequence of tricks in a mind-melting combo. The first few games were so good that the remaster "Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2" released to commercial and critical success — especially when compared to the failures of its predecessor, "Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5." 

Though the remaster came out more recently, technically "Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5" is the newest mainline entry in the franchise. Despite the advancements of the industry in all those years, it's by far the worst reviewed. On top of all this, Activision actually shut down the online servers for good a few years ago. Some "Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5" versions reportedly can't even be played because it has to download the main game from these defunct servers — but with some workarounds, there are ways to access the main game.

Even if you're a huge "Tony Hawk's Pro Skater" fan, critics and longtime players alike agree that the fifth entry isn't worth it. There are a few reasons why the game was dead on arrival and why most think it's still not worth getting into: rushed-out gameplay and awful graphics, the overabundance of glitches, and the incredible difficulty of even getting into the game — let alone finding other players for its multiplayer modes and online functions.

Fans feel like developers rushed it out

The most common complaints against "Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5" relate to its abysmal gameplay and graphics. Some fans compared the low-res, bland graphics on launch to the original PS2 games — which came out more than a decade prior. It had serious issues with pop-ins, when distant objects suddenly and obtusely load out of thin air, and the animations and physics often didn't line up with what was supposed to be happening. Admittedly, the graphics were "fixed" a few years ago with a cel-shading reskin, but it was too little and far too late to curb criticism (via Destructoid).

The gameplay was heavily criticized by longtime fans of the franchise, too. The most common complaint was that the grind button was also tied to a new ground-slam-like ability, which made jumping rails and navigating a grind much more difficult. It was weirdly rigid, the controls were different than the other mainline "Pro Skater" games, and overall it felt very different from what fans were used to — and not for the better.

It is believed by some fans that the game was rushed out in just a few months by Robomondo and Activision because the "Tony Hawk's" license was set to expire and it needed to capitalize on the name before it was too late. Robomondo also developed other games in the series — failures like "Tony Hawk: Shred" and "Tony Hawk: Ride," both of which had novelty controllers, a steep pricetag, and ultimately lackluster gameplay.

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5 was glitch-ridden on launch

In addition to its heavily criticized gameplay and graphics, the failure of "Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5" can also be attributed to its nigh-unplayable state on release. A highlight reel from EuroGamer featured bizarre visual glitches in the game , like the player getting stuck in the ground, launching into the sky when performing a normal trick, and so, so much more. The video went viral quickly and is cited on the Tony Hawk wiki as one reason why public perception of the game turned negative so quickly.

Broken physics can be annoying, but overlooked if the rest of the game is worth it — EA's trilogy of "SKATE" games had erratic ragdoll physics and sold just fine, in fact a new one, titled "Skate.," is set to come out soon — but because the rest of "Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5" is not enjoyable, these potentially minor problems got dragged into the spotlight. The glitches weren't just in-game, though, as some users reported that it even broke their consoles.

Its bug-ridden state quickly became known across the gaming world after release, slowing sales and curbing interest greatly. Though some of these glitches were fixed in patches, they didn't fix everything, and issues persisted through to the game's eventual end-of-life, when servers were shut down and ongoing support ended.

It required an online connection to play, but now servers are down

PlayStation 3 and 4 players who want to give "Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5" a try despite the negativity surrounding it will be sad to learn that it cannot be played on these consoles without some serious workarounds. A few years ago Activision took down the game's servers and delisted it from the PlayStation store, which made it virtually inaccessible on those consoles because the online requirement even cut off access to single player modes. It can still technically be played on Xbox consoles, and it's even still listed on the Xbox Marketplace, but no servers means no playing with friends, no DLC, and no patches to fix game-breaking bugs.

Looking back on the fifth game years after it was launched, taken down, and swept under the rug reveals that these three issues were the main obstacles in the way of a successful new entry. Bad graphics, boring and frustrating gameplay, and frequent game-breaking glitches ultimately made it one of the biggest disappointments in the "Tony Hawk" series

Unfortunately — or, perhaps, fortunately — the game is incredibly difficult to access now, and it looks like its publisher is doing everything it can to make players forget about its existence. Luckily "Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2" was less of a disappointment, but that doesn't mean the franchise has a bright future — recently, the man himself Tony Hawk said plans to remaster the other games have been put on hold indefinitely.