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PLATFORM Xbox360

Tony Hawk's Project 8 Review

GAME INFO
publisher: Activision
developer: Activision
genre: Sports

MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS
n/a
ESRB rating: T
homepage:
www.tonyhawksproject8.com/

release date: Nov 07, 06
» All About Tony Hawk's Project 8 on ActionTrip


November 27, 2006
Josh Gibbons

Although the Tony Hawk franchise has seen a large number of sequels, on the whole, each new release offers very few major changes. Sure they add some new button combos or a new move, but nothing that fundamentally changes the way the game feels (Ah. The infamous 'Madden Syndrome' -Ed). Typically, with an established and popular franchise most publishers follow the old adage of "it ain't broke, don't fix it". So it has gone to a certain extent with Tony Hawk games. That is, until Tony Hawk's Project 8.

When I first loaded up Activison and Neversoft's latest for the Xbox 360, Tony Hawk's Project 8, it felt grittier (in a good way) and more realistic than any previous version I had played. I was also pleasantly surprised by how much was new or improved. The physics felt more realistic. The graphics took a great step forward (Thanks to a brand new engine). The controls felt tighter than ever before. Seeing all the changes, I was looking forward to a challenging and more realistic game experience. After playing it for a while, I can now tell you this is possibly the easiest and most forgiving Tony Hawk I have ever played. Not that is a bad thing; it just depends on your level of experience with the series.

The game is actually one giant level that you progressively open up over the course of the game (which consist of 10 zones with no load times; somewhat similar to American Wasteland). What is amazing (and somewhat annoying for the experienced gamer) are the trick lines. They are everywhere. And I mean everywhere! It takes very little effort to skate out extreme lines and combos. To put this in perspective, after you open up this massive city and once you "level up" your skill points, you can do one long trick line through all 10 zones with just a little bit of luck and skill.

The rails are so much easier to balance on, the manuals are very simple to maintain and you can grind just about anywhere in any direction. This is mostly due to the special meter being way too easy to fill up and the focus lasting longer then it probably should. When you're in focus mode, it all but impossible to fall off a rail or lose your manual. You will also notice that instead of investing skill points, you earn them automatically by doing the associated skill. You want to be better at railing? Go out and rail. You will soon be circling the block with little or no effort and your wheels will rarely hit the ground, manual or otherwise.

Using these 'amazing' skating skills, you will attempt to accomplish the main goal of Project 8, which is to rise through the ranks of the city's skaters to become one of the elite 8 skaters by completing various challenges and tasks. The Classic mode has been integrated directly into the Career mode at certain points in the city (1 for each zone, for a total of 10). As part of these challenges, Classic mode has been integrated into the Career mode. You can fire off Classic mode at certain points in the city (1 for each zone, for a total of 10).

As seen in previous games in the series, there are many people throughout the city offering various tasks and "mini-games" (Because everyone knows how friendly the general public is to skaters -Ed). You will also find graffiti tags everywhere which indicate there is a challenge available to you which you can start by touching the tag. The challenges range from hitting certain tricks, running specific lines, doing a hand plant as high as possible, or any number of other things. In a nice touch, every graffiti challenge and task has three levels of difficulty to complete. So you can advance at your skill level and at your leisure while still feeling like you are moving the game forward.

As you rise through the Project 8 game rankings and open up new zones of the city, you also earn various extras, such as video clips that pop up right into the game screen for your viewing pleasure. For me, the skating videos never get old, especially the crash, bail and burn variety (Nothing is more heart-warming than watching some poor schmuck get a mouthful of asphalt at high speed -Ed).

In playing the game, you will find a few things different this time around. Create-A-Skater exists but in a much slimmed down form. Create-A-Park is all but gone. It makes a cursory appearance in the game, but it's not what you have seen in previous versions. In the end, neither of these mysterious disappearances really matter as the new Create-A-Trick. It adds so much to the experience that I can't imagine how I enjoyed this game before it existed. If you are looking for a single reason to play Tony Hawk's Project 8, Create_A-Trick is it.

Create-A-Trick allows you, at any point you are in the air, to push in both analog sticks and start flipping your board in any direction you choose. The game goes into slow mode and you use the two analog sticks to control your legs independently. You legs control which way you want the board to flip and when to plant your feet for the landing. If you are in air long enough, you can do any number of tricks before you land. It is not quite as easy as it sounds but once you get the hang of it, you will find is insanely addictive. You will find yourself trying to get just one more flip or spin on the board on your next ollie of a ramp.

If you don't notice how good the game looks when you first start playing, you definitely will when your try your first Create-A-Trick. After you click both sticks in and see the textures up close, you'll start noticing the other things. The streets look realistic and gritty. Many of the jumps and ramps look used and roughed up and the lighting is close to perfect. This is, without a doubt, a next-gen game.

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HIGHS
This is still, fundamentally, Tony Hawk skating, which is always a good thing. Multiplayer "Walls" is a great way to play online. The graphics have improved by leaps and bounds. Create-A-Trick makes this game worth playing;

LOWS
Level design is sub-par. You can't help but feel like you have done it all before. It's missing, fun, multiplayer modes from previous version. Stripped-down Create-a-Skater and Create-a-Park.

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