Product Type: Activision Xbox 360 games
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Tony Hawk's Project 8 (Xbox 360)
Member Name: samueltyler
Tony Hawk's Project 8 (Xbox 360)
Advantages: Open play, advanced graphics, sound
Disadvantages: Too difficult for me, slightly confusing design
‘Project 8’ is essentially the same gameplay that has dominated the extreme skateboarding genre for the past eight years with a few differences. The game sees you create your own skateboarder and unleashed them into a fully realised world. There are no loading times between different areas of the town (no fake tunnels like in the last game). Once you have opened up everywhere there is nothing stopping you from doing as you wish.
The need to achieve a certain number of goals within three minutes has been relegated to classic mode like in the past few games and instead you must search the map for people offering you tasks. These may take the form of pulling off a great trick, hunting down posters, or even competing in a competition. The number of activities that are on offer is immense and the sense of freedom is far truer than in any other skateboarding title.
Completing tasks successfully will have the double advantage of improving your skater’s skills as well as their position in the best skater ranks. The idea of the game is to get into the top 8 of the list so that you can join Tony’s team. This is harder than it sounds as it means that you need to get a reasonable score at most of the tasks available - and there are hundreds of them.
The actual gaming physics and skating is very similar to previous games in the series with you requiring to do very similar things to achieve success. If you have had any of the previous games in the series the chances are that you will be able to pick up and play almost instantly. There is an added function that allows you to slow down time and use your feet to flip the board whilst in the air. This is shown in the game by zooming in close to your feet and looks very effective. However, I do not think it is enough to really make the game different from previous incarnations.
In terms of gameplay most people who love the series would have to give this a rocking 4 or 5 out of 5 as it is along the same lines as previous titles. However, this is an opinion site and my opinion is that the gameplay is too hard. I have managed to access all the areas of the previous titles in the set (if not actually fully completing the game). However, even after trying over and over again I was not able to open most of this game. The producers have removed some of the key tactics that I used to gain points and made the title less forgiving. For veterans with a high skill level this is great as it may prove a challenge. For me it broke the game, making it too hard to bother trying. (3 out of 5)
As a rule sports titles do not have much to do with story and characters, but there is enough of these in ‘Project 8’ to warrant a mention. In the previous ‘Underground’ games there has been a proper storyline that links together the different venues in the game. However, in ‘Project 8’ this has been removed in favour of a more open game.
This means that the story flows with the direction the player takes. By completing tasks you open new areas of the game and get closer towards the top 8. It is not a story as such, but a mechanism of pulling the game forwards.
The characters in the game are often well realised and in many cases real people! Along your travels you will talk to Tony Hawk and many other pro skaters as they offer tips and tasks to improve your ranking. Probably the best character in the game is Jason Lee (My Name Is Earl) who appears in the game and acts as the narrator. He is very funny and is in his best deadpan form throughout the game. However, the game essentially has little story and the skateboarding action is the main draw. (3 out of 5)
With the amount of tasks on offer and the level of difficultly this game could last a player for a very long time. It all depends on what type of player you are. If you are someone who must complete the entire game and find all the gaps you are likely to take months playing this game as it is immense. However, if you are like me and you play a game until you grow bored, or get really stuck, the life span could fall very short. Once again the difficulty of the game, even on the lowest setting, means that I was unable to play it for too long.
However, I am not the only type of person that will play ‘Project 8’ as many gamers love a challenge. The 360 achievement points add to the experience by encouraging you to complete all the areas of the game on and off line. However, they do not inspire you to go out on a limb and try odd things to win points likes games such as ‘Crackdown’. I think this game has got perfectly good longevity but for me it proved too difficult and I had to trade it in before I could see it all. (2 out of 5)
This is one area where no one can deny that Tony Hawks has truly become a next generation title. The locations and the models look absolutely stunning and are a vast improvement on the first game released on the 360. The high def gameplay adds to the atmosphere of the play and you can recognise the players by their faces. (4 out of 5)
The game plays around a central hub that naturally breaks off into separate ‘levels’ such as the school or the main street. However, the programmers have decided to make the game flow so you can drift from one area to another without even knowing. On a positive note this gives the levels a great sense of freedom as you can trick out for what seems like infinity. They have successfully gotten rid of the awful long corridors that used to connect sections – this is truly a living town. On a negative note I felt the open feel to the game left me a bit disorientated and I was often unable to comprehend where I was even with the map. I ended up going around the same places as I could not work out how to reveal new sections.
The town has many jumps and gaps so although it looks vaguely real it is far too skateboard orientated to be true. The fact that Neversoft have populated the town with so many other skaters and pedestrians makes it a joy just to chill out and see what is going on. I feel that over time someone could learn to remember important parts of the game so that you no longer get lost – freedom is worth it. (4 out of 5)
This is an area where the Tony Hawk’s games have always shone. The music in particular has been a heady mix of new wave, punk, rock and classics; and there is no change here. If you are not a fan of the track playing now, wait a minute and a new one will come on. All the music is by the real artists and gives the game a classy feel. The sound is also great with people hurtling abuse or tips at you from the sidelines as you wiz by. With a surround system the sound makes the town come alive all around you. A special mention should go to Jason Lee’s narrative throughout the game as it is excellent. It is just the correct level of information and humour to fit nicely into the Tony Hawk family. (5 out of 5)
There is no denying that ‘Project 8’ is the best looking and most modern of the Tony Hawk games and truly deserves to be called a next gen game. The graphics, sound, gameplay and especially the open ended gameplay mean that it feels ultra modern. The makers have taken the best aspects of the previous games and gotten rid of all the Jackass influences that sullied the previous incarnations. What you are left with is a very strong skateboard simulator that aims to appeal to fans of the series.
It is this strong veteran feel that made me conclude this game was too hard. There is a good enough training section in the game, but even with this help I was unable to master the multitude of flips, spins, grinds etc needed to progress in the game. Failing towards the end of a game is not too uncommon for me as I am an adventure and platformer player by nature and find other genres difficult. However, if a game is made too tough, even on the easiest setting, as ‘Project 8’ I have to conclude that the game is broken.
However, do not let my experience and muted view of the game stop you from purchasing it as better gamers can easily add an extra star to my score. For me it remains a three star game as I was never able to get along with the complex controls and slightly confusing layout. I am sure that better gamers than me will relish the chance to make massive combos in a truly open environment. (3 out of 5)
Maker: Neversoft RRP Ł50
Amazon uk Ł32.98
Summary: A great game for most - but an average experience for me
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