The legendary Tony Hawk is riding again in the eighth installment of the popular skating franchise. Neversoft has taken it upon itself to put the popular series on the next-gen systems. This has resulted in the same familiar Tony Hawk gameplay but with far better visuals.
What’s In a Name?
The name Project 8 sets up your characters main goal. Tony Hawk is looking for the top eight amateur skaters in the world. It’s your job to take your skater from being ranked number 200 all the way to the top and make Tony’s list. To go about improving your rank all you have to do is play the game. Everything you do affects your rank such as helping random citizens, finding hidden items, or doing tasks for some of the pro skaters. It’s a pretty neat story that will keep you trying to claw your way up the ranks for a long time.
A really interesting aspect of Projects 8 is how the difficulty is setup. Rather than having easy, medium, and hard modes the difficulty is built into the game. When skating around you will find different goal areas that need to be accomplished. These goal areas tell you what tricks you have to do to accomplish that particular goal but each goal has three separate tricks that have to be performed for that particular section. Once you perform the trick successfully you will receive an amateur, pro or sick rating.
The competitions work the same way. First you are to perform a seeding run which places you into one of three tournaments of varying skill levels, and then you need to win the tournament you were placed in to finish the goal.
Being the Best
The new way to upgrade your character’s stats in Project 8 is simply just by playing. To upgrade your grind you have to grind everywhere you go, to upgrade your air you have to go off of lots of jumps and so on. This is a well implemented system but the fact that your character starts out so underpowered means you have to do a lot of backtracking to accomplish some of the harder goals located at the beginning. In past Tony Hawk games your character earned stat points by performing enough rotations in a trick or grinding a certain distance. So there is a slight difference on how the stats are dished out to your character. What’s different about the stats in this game is the fact that they dropped the speed skill. This is frustrating as in past games that would be the statistic I’d always level up first as I liked to dart around everywhere I went. This slows the game down tremendously and most of the skill challenges are timed making you feel really rushed throughout most of the game.
To be the best you will have to perform something that’s entirely new to the series called Spot Challenges. You’ll find markers throughout the game in various locations where you will have to perform your stunt at the designated marker. There’s nothing that really indicates where they are located;you just start the challenge by simply doing it. Finding these can difficult but I seemed to find most of them by complete accident just by skating around.
Another unique feature that was added to Project 8 is Nail a Trick. To perform this just press down on both of the analog sticks and the camera will then zoom in on your board. Then you use both of the analog sticks to control your feet and the board will move whatever way you tap the controller. This is a bit hard to learn but once you get the timing sorted you’ll be using it a lot to perform tricks that were previously too hard. The only bad thing about this feature is the somewhat annoying camera angles. When in this mode it’s hard to determine what way is up and how close you are to landing your trick.
Create a Huh?!?
One of the great modes of the past Tony Hawk games has always been the ‘create a park’ mode but unfortunately this has been removed from Project 8 entirely. There are certain spots in career mode where you get to rearrange some benches and tables but you never really get the opportunity to build an actual park. Some of the tricks in the levels do require you to customize some of the surroundings in order to get to them, but even this is involves moving the objects around in a linear way so it’s really not that custom.
The best thing about the PS3 version of Tony Hawk Pro Skater 8 is the Sixaxis support. The Sixaxis gives you the ability to perform tricks, turn, and even balance your character. What’s great about this is that all three of these features can be turned on or off individually giving you total customization on how you play the game. Using the Sixaxis isn’t complicated at all as its features are just the same as the left analog stick. To turn just tilt the controller in the desired direction, tilting it forward and back performs a manual, and flicking it left or right horizontally spins your board. The Sixaxis is fun to use and play with but is really much more difficult.
Tony Hawk online games have been nothing but good fun in the past but the first Tony Hawk game for the PS3 doesn’t have an online mode. Seeing how this game launched with the system I can see why they bagged it but the thing is the game has already been made for the Xbox 360 and the 360 already has an online mode. Personally, I would have liked Neversoft to push back the release date and make an online mode and also improve the visuals.
Unfortunately some of the visuals in Project 8 just don’t run very smoothly. When playing the game you will notice that it is actually quite choppy, and when it gets like that the controls aren’t very responsive. The game doesn’t always chop up and runs alright most of the time but when it bogs down it’s very frustrating.
Project 8 really is a fun game and is enjoyable to play. The only signficant issue is the fact that the Xbox version is so far ahead of the PS3 version. The lack of online mode really doesn’t help things but the game is really big and there are tons of different goals to accomplish.
-The Final Word-
A solid entry in the Tony Hawk series, though some lingering technical issues hold it back from greatness.