Tony Hawk's Project 8 Preview
The venerable Tony Hawk series, it is perhaps *the* series that put Activision on the proverbial map as a premier publisher. We all know how the series catapulted to fame since it really wasn't that long ago since it happened. Admittedly, I felt like things began to go downhill after the release of the fourth. While the locales got larger, the gameplay felt monotonous and tried. We would soon see the Underground releases and then American Wasteland -- all three of which just didn't impress me one bit. Tony Hawk began to feel a little more complicated than it really should be, what with all of the combo linking and whatnot -- it just wasn't fun anymore. But it looks like Project 8 may very well correct a lot of that.
Starting off with the easy stuff, visually this Tony Hawk will only naturally be the best looking Tony Hawk game thus far. Of course, that isn't saying much since this is going to be the very first true next-gen title the series will see. The reason for this is due to the fact that Neversoft has created an all new engine for the game, something that wasn't done for the X360 version of American Wasteland; having said that, Project 8 does indeed look like a solid title. While it's certainly not anything too groundbreaking, Neversoft went through the trouble of doing full body scans of every athlete in the game and has re-motion captured the tricks. The locale is large and seamless, and defines a living, breathing world. This time around you'll have to also impress the civilians in order to earn respect. But don't think of these pedestrians as just zombies, they will actually pick a fight with you if you knock into them; additionally, they'll laugh at you if you bail hard. Yes, the civilian interaction isn't amazing, but it looks like a new direction to be built on for the series, and that's always a good thing.
Activision claims that gamers will be able to progress through the game in a variety of ways, and it remains to be seen just what those ways are. During your career, not only can you interact with civilians, but the athletes around you will be able to teach you tricks to help you further advance. Ultimately, your priority in Project 8 is to become the #1 skater in the world. Of course, as with any other Tony Hawk title, this one features more goals, side missions, secret areas, mini-games and even more secrets than ever before -- so the journey to the top won't come without its challenges. In case you do run into some trouble spots, you'll be able to switch players on the fly to help you achieve a particular goal or overcome a certain obstacle -- which makes for some flexibility.
What's most impressive about the entire picture of this new Tony Hawk title is that Neversoft went and revamped the physics and control of the game. In fact, Activision's saying that Tony Hawk Project 8 will "provide the most realistic [skateboarding] experience ever" for a videogame console. It remains to be seen if the physics of the game can be adjusted to what the past games felt more like -- let's hope so. Nevertheless, I'm personally very excited to try out this newer, tighter, and more responsive Tony Hawk that Neversoft has developed.
Look for Tony Hawk Project 8 to coincide with the launch of the PS3 this November.
9/12/2006 Arnold Katayev