As much as we love the realism that EA beings to the Skate franchise, nothing quite hits home like Tony Hawk's timeline of openly bizarre chapters. Defying the rules of aviation and physics since '99, the acclaimed series has only continued to evolve and dabble in a world without limits. So what if you can Nata Spin on a building and somehow reduce asphalt to rubble? They're Tony Hawk games, and laws, whether we like it or not, simply fail to exist, regardless of how realistic they often try to be.
With a boatload of skate chapters under the domain and a future still lingering on the possibility of inducting another entry into the anthology, it means the series is still classed as being a relevant piece in the extreme sports genre. However, while we wait for the next instalment to come knocking, we thought we'd take a step back and rank the games based of popularity. So, here are, in our opinion, the five best Tony Hawk‘s games of all time, ranked.
5. Tony Hawk's Proving Ground
Going back to what I said about the timeline steering towards a more realistic tone, Proving Ground was basically what I was referring to. It wasn't the best skateboarding game by a long shot, but it was a breath of fresh air after Neversoft had spent years relying on humor and unlikely scenarios to line its pockets. Plus, having the whole career, rigger, and hardcore story arcs instead of just the one straight and narrow plot was a welcome addition to the nexus.
Tony Hawk's Proving Ground, like the Underground series, dropped you in an open world environment with multiple tales to pursue. Of course, having an entire warehouse to kit out and make your own was another complimentary feature that added to its overall appeal. All in all, with the three diverse stories, the warehouse, and the ability to turn the whole city into your own skateboarding sandbox, Proving Ground, true to its title, proved itself as a worthy accessory to the Tony Hawk saga.
4. Tony Hawk's American Wasteland
While the park building element of the series blossomed with Proving Ground, it definitely took a great deal of inspiration from American Wasteland, Neversoft's vibrant follow-up chapter to the critically acclaimed Underground 2 thread. Although players couldn't tweak the suburban jungle to their own design, the whole concept was based around building such a thing and making it one of the greatest skate spots on the map.
Admittedly, American Wasteland wasn't the most fleshed out game in the series. But it did, however, introduce the BMX, meaning even more fun could be had with another mode of transport knocking about. Los Angeles, being flustered by heaps of skateable objects, was a playground well worth carving up. And once the wasteland was fully kitted out, well, let's just say it sat on par with The Ranch from Underground 2.
3. Tony Hawk's Underground 2
I like to think of Tony Hawk's Underground 2 as a mixture of Jackass and Skate; a global tour of racking up points and dodging near-death experiences for the sake of good old fashioned entertainment. That's really all it was. Its story wasn't exactly one for the books, but it did possess all the raw qualities to build a fantastic skate entry.
The idea was simple: tour the world with Tony Hawk and a bunch of pro skaters on an all-out skate competition built on destruction and mindless vandalism. Skating took a backseat for the most part, as the game was more focused on watching a kid in a wheelchair wreak havoc on the general public. But the goals it did harness were diverse and hilarious. Stacking up points for doing tricks was out — finding Benjamin Franklin to help you in your global conquest, weirdly enough, was in. How's that for a change in direction?
2. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2
I'm going to go ahead and cheat ever so slightly with this one. Rather than burning one of two worthy bridges in favor of another, I thought it would make more sense to just include both portions to the Pro Skater series. Thanks to Activision reigniting the former fires that made the franchise famous, two of the greatest skateboarding games ever made could be re-entered on modern hardware.
The thing is, while Pro Skater did lay the foundations for skateboarding video games, there was still a lot that could be improved on. An open world, for example, which we'll follow up with in a moment. Besides that, the first two chunks of the division were phenomenal. Every location told a story, and even to this day remain lodged in our memories. The question is, did the series peak after Pro Skater 2? What's your view?
1. Tony Hawk's Underground
Even to this day, the open-world and punk-heavy hit Tony Hawk's Underground rests as one of the greatest skateboarding games of all time. Without its innovative design and brisk approach to capturing a storyline in an otherwise sports-based video game, the franchise never would have blossomed into the marvel it is today. And you can take that to the bank.
From the suburban districts of New Jersey to the tropical beaches of Hawaii, Tony Hawk's Underground told a story that put you, the up and coming pro skater, in the centre of the world. From rags to riches, hand-me-down trucks to custom graphics, the world was yours to forge. There's no doubt about it, everything about Underground was on point. It's just a crying shame is hasn't been remastered yet. 2022, anyone? Activision, we're looking at you right now.
So, what's your take? Do you agree with our top five? How would you rank the Tony Hawk's timeline? Let us know over on our socials here or down in the comments below.