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Tony Hawk's Project 8

Score: 90%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Neversoft
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 2 (2 - 8 Online)
Genre: Sports (Extreme)

Graphics & Sound:

We’ve come a long way since Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater for the PlayStation, starting out being able to play as your favorite skaters, with the later additions of characters such as Wolverine and Darth Maul, to the additions of newer, better, and all-around more complicated tricks. The game peaked at Pro Skater 3 and had been going downhill for a while. Coming in at the end of 2006, Tony Hawk’s Project 8 may be the turning point in a long line of so-so’s.

This is the first time the Hawk’s hit the next-gen systems, and he’s gotten quite a makeover, complete with a brand new engine. Everything looks crisp and as realistic as ever, from the newspapers blowing in the wind to the kids that run around to get in your way and become board fodder. Just as before, all the well-known pro skaters are featured, with a few new additions, including the 360 flip man himself, Jason Lee. Project 8 also sports both real and animated skate videos, for those who are into seeing their favorite skaters pull off some sick tricks.

Every face has a voice, and there are no actors, so each skater does his own voice work, and, of course, his own tricks. Something to be noted in this game is the quality of the ambient sounds, which are much more prominent than its predecessors. The game's soundtrack features the same genres as before: hip-hop, punk, and rock. You'd think with the 360, there'd be more than just about 50 songs, and since this game will take hours upon hours to complete, it can get a bit repetitive after a while.

The game world is massive, there are no levels, just unlockable areas, with no in-game load times. The game-world itself is like a condensed version of the country, allowing you to skate from Chicago landmarks to our Nation’s Capitol Building in about ten seconds.


The main objective in Tony Hawk's Project 8 is to beat out other skaters and move up through the ranks to land a spot in the top 8 and become part of Tony’s new street-elite team. You’ll do this by landing the sickest tricks and taking on the top pro skaters in high-scoring challenges. The game plays like most Tony Hawk games of the past, with the exception of the open world architecture. No longer are you pitted against the clock for short, two minute competitions one after the next. You can freely choose what challenges you wish to take on before moving on to others.

There are an endless number of challenges in this game. Most are as they were in the past, such as landing big combos in front of crowds or catching some max air. A new element is the vast number of spot challenges. These will put your balance to the test to see how far you can grind or manual without bailing, while others get you to do as much damage to your character as humanly possible.

As you play through each section of the game, new challenges will unlock new areas. You can start with the smaller goals to build up some practice for any one of ten pro skater challenges. The pros will call for your help to score some major points while trying to impress the crowd and give them what they want.

The game's multiplayer is basically the same as other Hawk games, with the ability to challege friends to a friendly (or not-so-friendly) game of HORSE. Being able to hook up to Xbox Live, however, adds a brand new idea of social interaction. While on Live, you and other skaters play in the same massive open world, either skating side by side or challenging each other to competitions.


Tony Hawk's Project 8, while geared towards skaters, is aimed at every gamer, though practice does make perfect. Some of the challenges require some pretty insane combos, which can be pulled off, they just take patience. You can’t pick this game up and hope to be #1 by pulling off cheap little grab tricks. This game can get tough at times, but you can always go back to simpler tasks to build your skills up.

Most of the challenges and contests have 3 possible rankings: Amateur, Pro, and Sick. It is possible to beat the game by only completing the Amateur goals, but who wants to do that? Even the pro ranks are fairly easy to achieve. The Sick ranks, on the other hand, put even the best Hawk vets to the test. Some may seem impossible, but all it takes is a little perseverance and a lot of retrys (which the game makes easy for you by putting a “Restart Goal” option in the Pause menu).

As with any game, difficulty on Xbox Live depends on what skill level you and your opponents are on. There is play for noobs, but if you really want to show off, its best to finish the game in a top 8 position before trying out your techniques against online opponents.

Game Mechanics:

Tony Hawk's Project 8 has finally jumped on the bullet-time bandwagon by offering a “Nail the Trick” feature. By clicking both sticks at the same time, the game slows down and puts you into a “focus” mode, giving you total manipulation of the board. This will give amateur players a chance to jack up their scores by kicking the board around as much as possible, all while keeping it level for your landing. Obviously, the higher you jump, the more time you have to add in more kickflips and heelflips before putting the wheels on the ground.

In single-player, you get to build and design your character from a small number of preset avatars. There aren’t as many options as there should be for character design, though there are enough to build something fairly close to what you may want your character to look like. Multiplayer is the only place where you can play as the names, including characters that you can unlock by playing through the game. There are few cheats available, so it is not known if Wolverine will make a triumphant comeback (and if he does, please tell me we can use the claws now!)

All things said and done, Project 8 is probably one of the best Hawk games to date (and they didn’t even have to put Bam on the cover). With only minor camera and physics engine glitches, the game has a solid delivery that should keep its players entertained for hours. The “Nail the Trick” feature alone is worth many hours of gameplay. A must for Hawk fans everywhere, and a good place to start for the young skaters picking up their first controllers who aren’t familiar with Pro Skater 3.

-Crazy Kangaroo, GameVortex Communications
AKA Josh Meeks

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