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  • Game Review: Tony Hawk's Project 8 (Xbox 360)

    Tony Hawk's Project 8
    Publisher: Neversoft Entertainment
    Developer: Activision
    Genre: Sports
    Players: 1-4
    Reviewed on Xbox 360 by gdf

    Over time, it is inevitable that a series will get tired and run out of ideas; especially if it happens to be an annually updated sports game. After a while change is demanded and has to be put in place for the survival and continuation of the franchise, but it can be difficult to make massive overhauls without changing the core experience. This is where the last couple of Hawk games have struggled. 2003's THUG was a natural expansion of the gameplay offered in games 1 to 4 and opened up the world to fans of the series. The sequel, THUG 2, ended up recreating the humour of Jackass with its stupid stunts and rocket powered Segway-riding midgets. After that, it was demanded that the series deviate from this before it became overly tired, but the result was a bit uglier than expected. THAW attempted to be a jack of all trades, but ended as a pathetic loser of most. The skating was put on the back foot as you could nip around the supposedly load free world (loading screens were disguised as suspiciously bland alleys and tunnels linking parts of the world) in a car or BMX; a rather bad idea considering the only consistent name in the series' titles is Tony Hawk, y'know, only the most well known skater on the planet. THAW turned out to be a mini disaster area and there were some doubts over the series' future. Happily, all the wrongs have been righted thanks to THP8, the lastest from Activision.


    From the off it appears a much more skateboardy experience. The environments in the free roaming city are choc full of trick oppourtunities, and much of the joy can be found from simply crusing around, grinding and flipping away. At the beginning of career you create your character, and straight after that it's off to skate. The plot goes like this: Tony is building up a team of the best 8 amatuer skaters he can find (see what they've done there) and he has stopped off in your town. It's up to you to climb from number 200 to the team and this can be done in numerous ways.

    The great thing is that you can go at your own pace and pick and choose what you want to do. There are some missions and competitions which will improve your ranking a good few places and there are also the rather excellent spot challenges, addictive little nuggets of rank boosting fun. They can be activated when you are going about and are just graffitied words on the ground like "grind" or "Jump". The further, higher, or whatever, you go, the better grade you get ("Am", "Pro" or "Sick") and the more rank spots you will gain. the beauty is that even if you fail you can just carry on to your destination or restart quickly. Spot challenges can be tough but great fun at the same time and goals like "break 15 bones" are always welcome.


    This brings me on to the next point of the gameplay: New features. Thankfully, THP8 is bursting at the seams with great new introductions to the series. Most noteworty are the bails, focus mode and the awesome "Nail the trick" er...trick. Bails have been overhauled and you are now able to direct the fall of your skater, bounce him (or her) off the ground and get up quickly. There are some moments of absolute joy when your protagonist goes flying and gets totally smashed up (complete with wince-inducing bone crunch sounds). Focus mode is a more serious but nonetheless useful addition. When the bar at the top left of the screen fills up, you click in the left stick to slow time down, very useful for tricky grinds and manuals or sustaining a combo. To stay in slow motion, you have to keep the bar filled by doing more tricks, so the more skilled you are, the easier a long combo gets. Also, it looks very cool grinding round a level 6 times and landing a million point combo at a snail's pace. The final large addition is the much lauded "Nail the Trick". At any time during play, you click in both sticks to slow time down, but this is different. Instead of keeping control of the skater's body, the camera zooms to his feet, and each stick controls its respective foot. Yet again this is very cool, but good timing and skill are required to land anything more than a one or two trick combo. Most of the time this feature produces some decent points, especially when used as part of a larger combo or in conjunction with focus. These features are great to have and make the skating both more enjoyable and realistic.


    The game's soundtrack is also surprisingly good, with great bands such as Wolfmother, Kasabian and Klaxons all featuring. THP8 also has very tidy visuals and, for a cross-platform title, looks fairly next gen on the 360. Overall, THP8 really takes the series back to the heady days of THPS4 and is probably the most realistic and enjoyable yet. Despite its Halo 2 esque ending, it contains loads of replay value and has plenty of gamer points for 360 acheivement whores. The multiplayer is as fun as ever and you can never beat a good game of horse using words like "Penis" and "***got". THP8 is something of a return to form for a series that had lost its way somewhat, and is sefinitely worth your hard earned.

    Replay Value 3/5
    Sound 4/5
    Graphics 4/5
    Gameplay 4.5/5
    Score:


    Great game harking back to the first few in the franchise. Highly recommended.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Game Review: Tony Hawk's Project 8 (Xbox 360) started by gdf View original post
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