Imagine an alternate universe in which Tony Hawk's Pro Skater was never released. (To start with, if such a universe sounds like hell to you, you may want to buy this game.) All the blueprints for THPS and THPS2 were lying around, and years later, a Chicago developer picked them up and thought, "yeah, we could make something of this".
Such a situation would lead to this game, basically, a new title with a mix of levels from the first two games, in our case primarily based off of THPS2 (2X if you want to get specific). Game mechanics from titles THPS4 and onwards are not at all present, the Big Drop returns, and, actually, the Revert is a default move included with the game now. You do not need the Revert Pack to revert, and you can do so on all levels. Some of these changes may disappoint you if you're used to still playing, say, Underground 2, and expect to be able to wallplant, or jump off anything without having to hold a button, but overall it's a nice way to return to the roots.
This is a modern title, and the list of skaters is a pretty obvious reminder of that no matter how much you try to see it as the 90's. Names like Chris Cole and Riley Hawk stand out even when there's no Bob Burnquist in the list, but if anything, this offers a fresh set of playable characters instead of the same-old same-old, I suppose. In the end, you're going to fully upgrade most of them, anyways. This is sort of like a reunion tour, taking you to old places while giving you new things to do and new perspective on them.
There aren't really many new hidden secrets like you'd expect from the original titles. There are some, mostly characters that aren't especially easy to unlock. In general, though, the game is very open about its content, even providing a labeled map on the pause menu if you're stuck on finding certain goals. However, pretty much any secret move or area you learned in the original games is fully intact here, which I find quite admirable.
The main problem I have with this game, even while I thoroughly enjoy it when it's working nicely, is that it sorta feels incomplete at points. For one, it includes 7 out of a possible 19 levels from the original games (24 levels were present in 2X alone), leaving you less overall content than the original games, though with quality over quantity in terms of visuals, presentation, and gameplay (really, how well do you remember the NY City level?).
The options menu is where excuses start to fall apart. The only visual option on the menu is resolution. That's it. However, there are PLENTY of intricate options present in the BaseEngine.ini file if you need to tweak it to run smoothly on your computer. Why aren't these just in the options menu if you already programmed them? What is the options menu for if not options? Also, even if you're playing with a keyboard, the on-screen controls are ALWAYS keys despite a smooth plug-n-play transition otherwise. It's like most of the team did an amazing job making this happen and then their work got buried by bad UI decisions.
The soundtrack actually lives up to exactly what you'd expect from the title. It's mostly music from THPS2, or new music that blends in well with it (except that annoying "room in the mansion" song, the only one I want to turn off, which by the way, you can't). It's all intensely catchy and you'll probably be listening to much of it outside the game soon after. (Only one song comes back from the first game. Yes. It's that one. You know exactly what one.)
In any case, it's a new Tony Hawk game. It's a new, GOOD Tony Hawk game. If you've ever enjoyed that smooth feeling of the board sliding across a rail, if you've ever exclaimed "Yes!" under your breath at the raw success of landing a 720 grab into a revert into a manual into another grab, or if the word "Kickflip TC's Roof Gap" have any meaning to you, this will be well worth your time. The actual physics of the game are translated quite well (beyond the absolutely ridiculous ragdolling when you bail), and with plenty of game modes, the few levels don't run dry at any rate of speed (though I've never liked the Hawkman mode).
There is one last thing I want to warn you about. This is a single-player game. There is no multiplayer in this in any way, shape, or form. This seems another thing oddly missing from the PC version specifically, as it is present on the console version. Doesn't matter to me, but may be a dealbreaker for you.