When the first video we see of a game on launch day is a two minute montage of glitches captured within the first hour of gameplay, something's not right.
Perhaps "somethings" is the better term to use there. The problems with the first new entry in the once-premiere skateboarding franchise in years began back in July, when the first gameplay trailer arrived to widespread ridicule — it did not look good.
And then everything went pretty quiet until yesterday, the day before release, when The Games Cabin reported that the pre-load for the game on PlayStation 4 was around four and a half gigabytes of data, but there was a day one patch that weighed in at more than seven gigs.
Purchasers of the disc version of the game have reported (via Twitter) that before the day one patch all they could do was use the park editor and play the tutorial, suggesting the patch was the majority of the game. That's not good.
The most damning evidence of Tony Hawk 5's problems came this morning from Eurogamer, which uploaded a wo minute video titled "Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 Is A Glitchy Mess."
There are several other glitch videos circulating, most taken from the PlayStation 4 version of the game.
Code for the Xbox One version hit my desk a little after noon Eastern today, and it's never a good sign when the press gets the game after it's already on sale. The entire install was 7.4 gigabytes — digital copies don't need a patch.
It's still not a pretty game. In character creation I waited some 10-15 seconds for characters' clothing textures to pop into focus. During one of my online sessions the game lost the ability to activate the park challenges scattered across the level and I had to exit out and restart to get them working.
As far as the glitches Eurogamer noticed, I've played nearly two hours on the Xbox One and only had one tumble into the level geometry. I've had a few hilarious, gravity-defying bails, but they end in a flash and I respawn on the board. I've played through the game's first campaign level and explored various user-created levels with little glitchiness.
Here's five minutes of play, taken from my Xbox One copy.
As I said, not the prettiest game, and this opening level is a bit bland, but if you squint your eyes there's the faint glimmer of the addictive fun that made the original games in the series so popular years ago.
But it definitely needs work, especially the PlayStation 4 version. Or the series just needs to be canned. If Robomodo, the makers of Ride, Shred and Pro Skater HD is the best studio Activision is willing to assign to such an iconic name it's time for Tony Hawk to ride out the end of his 13 year contract and skate on to greener pastures.
Tony Hawk's Skate 4, anyone?