Sunday, November 12, 2006

First Look: Tony Hawk's Project 8 (360)

The series reaches its 8th installment with Tony Hawk's Project 8. I didn't play a lot of the last game simply because I had read from various places that the 360 version was a simple port from the Xbox/PS2 versions of the game with little graphical update. This time around they have supposedly built it from the ground up on the 360.

As I've been playing the game here and there I find that Tony Hawk's Project 8 is a cross between the other games in the series and the old Amped games from Xbox. You run through various tasks that have different levels of success as you go through them. Most of them are split between three levels: Amateur, Pro and Sick. You should have no problem getting through the first level and possibly the second level. For the third level you will find out that you have to have an upgraded skater in order to get the height needed to pull off big combos.

As you finish the levels you rank up from 200th place as the best skater around. The key to the game is to get into the final 8 that Tony Hawk plans to reward. I have yet to even reach the 100th rank and the game is already starting to grate on me. The game just feels like mostly a rehash of prior games in the series. They have added the "Nail the Trick" move in this game where you press in both buttons (not triggers) in order to go into a slow-mo move where you can control the deck via the two analog sticks and do really crazy tricks. This is often the key to scoring the Sick rating in many of the tasks.

The graphics are quite nice, but there are trick destroying slowdowns in many areas. I can only guess that the slowdown is in relation to how fast you are going when it happens. This is something I hope they fix with the next iteration.

Bottom line is that Tony Hawk's Project 8 was fun when it started out, but it is getting tedious as I continue on. There are some cool events here and there and it seems like a shoutout to the old Hawk games and not the Underground games. So far I'd put this squarely in the Rent It category, but I have to play it a bit more (if I can handle it). Not sure what Ron was smoking when he gave it a 9.3, but I would have to say I'm squarely with the feelings of Gamespot, IGN, Team Xbox and Gamespy.

I have not given the online portion a try yet, but I plan on doing it before my rentail period is done. I have heard it is a nice game to play online and that is probably why the early Playstation 3 reviews of the game are lower since there is no online play in that version.