Tony Hawk's Project 8 Review

It was many games and several years ago that I got tired of the Tony Hawk franchise. The game had become tiring and dull after several iterations sporting nothing more than enhanced graphics, new levels and a new trick, such as the revert. Unsurprisingly, that’s in essence what Project 8 delivers: an updated Tony Hawk that doesn’t do a lot to drastically change the classic formula. It’s still fun, but only serious skateboard or Tony Hawk fans need apply.

Project 8‘s big new addition, Nail the Trick, allows you to pull off board-flip tricks by pushing the analog sticks in various directions. It’s extremely intuitive but is only available at certain times, so it doesn’t become as useful as it could have been. Still, Nail the Trick is an extremely nice addition and hopefully the inevitable sequel will find a way to better incorporate it.

Somehow, the guys at Neversoft have managed to keep the game’s objectives and goals fresh. If there was one thing that kept me coming back when I was a regular of the series, it was the interesting and unique goals that the game had you completing. In Project 8, you’ll have to pull off huge combos, grind for long distances, smash pumpkins, knock over bowling pins and more. Completely new types of goals include challenges where you have to design part of an area in order to fulfill your objective. The classic goals are still scattered throughout the game, like collecting ‘SKATE’ and finding the secret tape (now the secret disc; get with the times), but they take the backseat to the newer challenges and goals.

The playing environment is one wide-open area, although you’ll need to progressively unlock areas until the entire game world is open to you. Sounds good in principle, but when so much is blocked off because of mass amounts of invisible barriers, you’ll just become frustrated that the city has been locked down from itself. For all of the ideas that were put into the objectives, it would seem reasonable to expect that the unlockable barriers would be something other than a fence that can be broken down by wallplanting off of it. Additionally, it seems like these areas (suburban town, school, etc.) are recycled ideas and levels from past Tony Hawk games. Collectively, the world is huge and invisible barriers or not, make for the largest and best virtual location to skate around that you’ll find anywhere.

Story has never been a strong-point of Tony Hawk games, and with it being a skateboarding game, the lack of a solid story isn’t much of a detriment. But when you have the cheesy action cinemas combined with the totally gnarly goal of being one of the eight skateboarders to join Tony Hawk’s Project 8, you’ll find yourself grimacing. Luckily, the fun goals mix things up enough that you never really are concerned with what would otherwise be a poor attempt at holding the game together.

Before beginning story mode, you’ll be able to create a custom skater. The create-a-skater really, really falls short with its lack of customability. With recent games such as The Godfather sporting incredibly complex character creation features, and other games such as Rainbow Six: Vegas enabling you to map your face to a character, Project 8‘s poor excuse for create-a-character seems like it would have been a nice feature in Tony Hawk 2 or 3.

Continuing in the footsteps of previous games, you can hop off your board at anytime and wander around on-foot. It doesn’t serve much of a purpose other than allowing you access to a few goals and more easily navigate the world. Realism aside, it’s nice to be able to walk through a narrow street as opposed to having to skate down it. It’s a good thing, too, considering the high-frequency at which you’ll find your character getting stuck on objects.

As usual, absolute realism isn’t what this Tony Hawk is about; you’ll be able to pull off disgustingly ridiculous tricks that would make the world’s best skateboarders’ jaws drop. When I first began playing, I handed the controller to a friend of mine so that he could try the game out. I looked away for a moment, and when my eyes landed back on the screen, I saw his character quite literally fly across the screen, somewhere in the range of several hundred yards. Thinking it was a fluke, I didn’t think much of it — until the next time it happened, and the many, many times it has happened since. For no apparent reason, your character will soar through the air after wrecking as if he or she was just shot out of a cannon. A big cannon.

Unfortunately, much like your character, during all of the chaotic action on-screen your camera can get stuck around walls, on objects or in strange positions. That’s an annoyance in any game, at any time, but when you’re about to pull-off a record-breaking trick and the camera costs you…well let’s just say you might need to buy a new controller afterwards. Luckily, your character is some sort of Jedi and whenever he or she bails, the board will magically appear back in your hands.

This is quite easily the best-looking Tony Hawk game yet, as is to be expected. Character models look sharp, and the environments are very lively. Annoyances are fairly small, and with the exception of the camera, these are minor gripes. Characters will bleed all over the ground after wrecking, but there will be no marks on the characters themselves whatsoever. Clothes also never react to the air that should be blowing them all about. And while most water does properly contour to any movement through it, any water that is being sprayed might as well not be there — it’ll just flow right through you.

Music in Project 8 takes on sort of an ambient quality, as it plays more in the background. It’s the same style of skater music found in past Tony Hawk games, and works well within the confines of the game. The skateboard makes fairly accurate noises depending on the type of ground you’re rolling over, from grass to gravel to water. And just for that extra touch, the sickening crack of your skateboarder’s body as he or she hits the ground after a wreck sounds real, as well.

Project 8 is a solid Tony Hawk game, and series enthusiasts will be more than happy with what it has to offer. Casual fans, however, will likely be upset with its lack of evolution over previous titles. Between the huge environment, multiple difficulties per goal, and multiplayer, plenty of replayability is ready to be had in the game. But whether or not Project 8 is worth picking up comes down to how tired you are of the Tony Hawk formula.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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