Tony Hawk's Project 8
13th Jun 2006 | 14:06
Another year, another Tony Hawk skating game is unveiled. But this time the comedy themes of Wasteland and Underground have been ditched in favour of a back-to-basics approach. Isn't it funny how games in their numerous sequels always go back to their roots sooner or later? It's almost an admission by the developers that the game design has strayed somewhere along the line and things got out of hand. That's where we are with the new Hawk game. Instead of jumping in the back of a bus and rousing Jackass-style mayhem around the globe, Project 8 is strictly about the skating, which sounds about right to us.
The recently announced 360 and PS3 next-generation versions of Project 8 are being rebuilt from the ground up. Now that's not entirely the case with current consoles, but the game design has been tweaked to place more emphasis on allowing players to experiment with the seemingly infinite amount of combos possible or chaining tricks together for some totally awesome radness, dude.
Project leader and co-founder of developer Shaba Games, Rick D'Aloisio, explains, "We want to encourage both veterans and newcomers to the Hawk games to think about their combos, what's possible and what isn't." Now we're not sure there are any gamers left on the planet that haven't come into contact with a Tony Hawk game at some point over the last seven or eight years. But as gamers who have played the Pro Skater series since its debut on PSone all those years ago, we're a bit on the glad side that pulling gravity-defying tricks is back at the top of the menu.
Activision is pitching the eighth instalment as the most unique, robust and realistic skateboarding game ever made. D'Aloisio adds that Project 8 offers more goals, side missions, secret areas and minigames than any other Hawk game, ever. Players will now be able to track their stats with some new technology that's been slipped into the back end of the game's code to make record-keeping almost as easy as it is to keep track of your mates' scores on the Xbox Live leaderboards.
To make things a little more interesting than previous versions, players will now be able to switch between different characters in-game, in order to accomplish a specific goal. So if you've got a boarder who can ollie as high as a two-story house, he might just come in handy when trying to achieve those hard-to-reach goals we've all come to love and hate. Give us a secret jetpack anytime, though.
Project 8 isn't just about street skating either. The developer thinks that too many people don't get a chance to really get stuck into vert, or ramp skating. Sure, we've all gone up there and landed in a pile of shattered nose on the way back down but how many times have you stayed in the half-pipe and just skated it for fun? Not enough by the sounds of it. "In line with giving the game a greater emphasis on realism, we're keen to push gamers into a half-pipe," says lead designer Noah Zilberberg. "We really do want to encourage people to use the half-pipes scattered around each level more."
Thanks to realism being a key part of the new game, Matrix-style wall-running has been scaled down. Add to that a good old bit of tic-tacking and what we're looking at is a skating game that's been brought back down to earth. "Without a doubt we've made Project 8 look and feel more like a skating game than before," adds Zilberberg.
As previously noted, the Story mode has been stripped of all its story-based bells and whistles. The mighty Bam Margera (famous from the Jackass series) is of course present and correct, as are a few more famous faces - Activision is keeping tight lipped over the full line-up, though. The new Story mode solely concentrates on you, the rookie skater who has big dreams of being the next Tony Hawk.
Because you're effectively the tea boy of the skating world, you'll need to earn pro skater status by pulling off rad tricks (an ollie on its own doesn't count) through photoshoot locations littered around each level. Fans of the original Xbox launch title Amped: Freestyle Snowboarding will remember a similar feature. But taking your public performance in a new direction continues with you needing to shoot a good combination of tricks for the camera. And we just love watching those crazy kids smashing their two front teeth into the pavement. So you'll have to be better than that. The 'trick' here is to not headbutt a wall or crush the family jewels on a rail but listen to the cameraman's descriptions of what he wants to see, and keep up with him.
And putting smiles on peoples' faces doesn't start and finish with the skateboarding-wannabe cameraman either. For the first time in the series you're going to have to impress the heck out of Project 8's pedestrians and other citizens if you don't want to be made to look foolish. "Not only will they clap when you pull off a good trick or move, but they'll also laugh when you bail or punch you in the stomach should you slam into them," reveals Zilberberg.
So apart from becoming the best skater in town what else is up Shaba's sleeve? How does a set of enhanced multiplayer features grab you? All the classic modes of play will be back in there (including the great Horse mode that sees players tricking to collect words before their opponent), as well as a few more. But one thing that's still a mystery is the online side of things - if indeed there is one. Hawk games - at least in the UK - have always lacked online gaming, apart from the most recent Tony Hawk's American Wasteland of course.
Actually there's nothing more at all to tell you for now, but you'll see what we're up against. We will, however, know more soon, and will hopefully have some solid multiplayer info to give you, so watch this space.