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Hands On: Tony Hawk's Project 8

Developer: Neversoft | Publisher: Activision
Players: | Genre: Sports

Release Date: 11/28/06

tony.jpgI haven’t played a Tony Hawk game since 2X helped launch the original Xbox. I’ve dabbled for a few minutes here and there with some of the others as they were released, but other than one version which I won’t mention, I haven’t picked up a controller to play a Tony Hawk game in years. This is a source of ridicule amongst my peers (along with a few other major franchises which I haven’t played one entry of) but I ride along with their jest because I know I will have the last laugh.

What does this have to do with Tony Hawk’s Project 8?

When I was able to get my hands on a controller to check the game out I sucked. Instead of being able to fully explore an area to give a full report on what things are like, I planted face more times than not just trying to grind a rail. I suck at skateboarding games. Throw a snowboard on my virtual feet and we’re golden, but wheels perplex me.

Take the new “Nail the Trick” feature. When in the air players have the option to enter this “matrix-y” type slow-motion bit which focuses on the feet and board. The two thumbsticks control the feet - how far from the board they go and in which direction. When the board is back under the feet, the idea is the let go of the thumbsticks so that the feet would plant back on the board square and the trick would be nailed resulting in a major point bonus.

If you are unaware about how skateboarding for points works in a Tony Hawk game, then you most likely won’t be picking up Project 8.

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A standard Kick Flip is worth 100 points. By going through the Nail The Trick that same stunt is worth 2000 points. Naturally stringing together several tricks will create some wicked high scores.

Unlike last time, the lead platform for development was “next-gen” – the game was built from the ground up to look and play like an Xbox 360 skateboarding game should with plenty of huge open spaces. The only problem being that I suck so badly at the game that the person allowing me to try the game out took the controller away from me. I got to watch somebody explore what looked like the school level, but there were rooftops to travel along, a city block (or two) attached to skate around, all for somebody else to take on. Not me, because I suck.

Grinding on a rail is one of the basic moves, and I was able to get that happening after a couple of tries. From there I was able to take on a couple of the vert ramps to grab some air, but would land face down a third of the time, not to mention attempting to string together tricks. Apparently I'm just not going to be the Tony Hawk reviewer around here.

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There are three difficulty levels (amateur, pro and sick) but those have to do with the types of stunts required to meet a goal rather than the ability to stay on the board. There will be plenty of goals for each of the difficulty levels to be met. Naturally meeting a number of goals will unlock the next available course. The overall goal for the game is to start at the bottom (as the number 200 ranked skater) and work your way up to a position on Tony’s team of 8 – Tony Hawk’s Project 8 (this is, officially, the 8th Tony Hawk game).

As one would expect, a number of professional skaters are going to be available in the game, but not nearly as many as one might think. Bam Margera and Bob Burnquist reappear but so far there are only about 12 pro skaters announced for the game. That doesn’t seem like a lot for a true “next-gen” title. Hopefully more will be revealed shortly.

Tony Hawk’s Project 8 seems to be a “return to form” for the franchise. There is still the story mode and some gameplay tweaks, but it appears that the diversions of a heavy story emphasis are being toned down for a more balanced fare. Players that have gotten burned on the franchise may want to take some time to check out this latest entry when it arrives.

By Daniel "Monk" Pel... - 10/30/06
ESRB Details: Alcohol Reference, Blood, Crude Humor, Language, Mild Violence

Screenshots for Hands On: Tony Hawk's Project 8

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