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April 5, 2007
Tony Hawk's Project 8 - PS3 Review
Release Distributor Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
Media HDD Space Resolution Sound Format Tilt Controls OFLC Rating

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Certainly next-gen graphics!
Everyone who skates knows who Tony Hawks is. But nowadays, even if you donít skate, you'd be hard-pressed to find a gamer that wouldnít recognise that name. Since way back when the first game, Tony Hawks Pro Skater, came out in 1999, the series has been the benchmark (and only truly successful) skateboarding game franchise. The 8th game in the series of unconnected titles, Project 8 wowed everyone when first trailers were shown of the motion-captured beauty of skaters pulling some rather insane tricks. Now, the game has finally hit our shelves as a launch title for the PS3 after our long wait. How does this one stack up against previous games? Should you fork out those hard-earned dollars for this release on your brand-new shiny PS3? Read on and find out!

As with the last few Tony Hawks games, Project 8 has a fairly straightforward plot that binds all the massive grinds, insane grabs, and other suicidal tricks together. Again, players will create their own player to start as a nobody and rise to fame, eventually becoming part of Tonyís elite ĎProject 8 team,í comprised of the top 8 ranked skaters in the world. This, of course, is going to take a bit of work, as you start out ranked at number #200. By impressing locals, getting into photo shoots, and slowly attracting the attention of big-name skaters, players will move up the ranks until finally taking their rightful place by Tonyís side.

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Love that Neversoft logo.
As expected Project 8 is played much like earlier titles, with a few basic mechanics of grinds, grabs, kick flips, spins and ollies put in place. Each type of trick is mapped to a button on the new SIXAXIS controller, and controlling your skater has never been easier. Merely pulling off tricks wonít be enough to climb those rankings though, and players will need to attempt over 200 goals in order to have any hope of getting into the illustrious 8. These can vary from longest grinds, to highest score for a combo, to other unusual ones, such as helping a giant beaver mascot take dance lessons.

Yes the humour that has been in the Tony Hawks games from day one is still a big part of this release, though it isnít quite as prevalent as it was in T.H.U.G.2, and this is largely due to the lack of cut-scenes (comparatively). Nonetheless, the story this time around is a lot more straightforward and simple, so it stands to reason there would be less of a plot-driven feel to the game.

The skating world here is all connected, and rather than having to go through separate levels, unlocking a new area will simply make your current skate-area larger. Thatís right, the series has finally achieved a true open-world without tunnels or closed corridors separating the sections. You can skate from one side of the game to the other without ever having to re-load the level.

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Even concrete textures look great!
Other familiar aspects of previous game play can be found throughout the game, including what was once known as the 'classic' mode, where players are given ten goals to complete in 2 minutes. These 2 minute runs are now integrated into the career mode and initiated by talking to particular characters. As usual, you can complete as many goals as you each time you attempt the run rather than having to do them all in a single 2 minute session. You are also able to create your own skater and even, at times, play around with a simplified version of the old create-a-park feature within the career mode. There is also, of course, a free skate mode and several short multiplayer games, varying from getting the highest score, to our old favourite, Horse (where players compete, trying to pull off the biggest combo in a short time, the loser getting a letter until they get the entire word). Unfortunately multiplayer is still limited to two players offline.

Thatís enough about what has returned. Surely a launch title on Sonyís next-gen system has some new features, right? Right! For one, the SIXAXISí tilt sensoring has been utilised (though entirely optional) to steer your skater, balance grinds, and even pull off tricks by simply tilting the controller. Like many of the early PS3 releases, itís a nice inclusion and doesnít feel out of place, but itís going to take a bit of practice to get the hang of it, and I found myself reverting to standard controls before too long.

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Pulling off some tricks.
The biggest new inclusion, and arguably the most exciting feature, is something called ďNail-A-TrickĒ. Remember the ďspecialĒ in earlier games? Well thatís still here, but we have an additional game play element along similar lines. While in the air, at any point, players can press down on both of the analogue stick buttons (L3 and R3) at the same time to start a slow-motion mode where you get complete control of the skaterís feet/legs; the left stick controls your left leg, and right stick your right leg. Pressing the sticks in different directions will cause your skater to start kick flip tricks, and these can be strung together to build up massive points. It may not sound like much, but in high definition, this motion-captured slow motion looks quite amazing and is indeed a lot of fun.

Unfortunately, Project 8 does have some fairly major issues that bring the score down considerably. The most annoying one, and itís quite a big deal, is that if your PS3 is signed in to the Playstation Network (for your friends list, etc.) while you are playing the game, every time you get a message, or someone on your list signs on or off, the game will pause for up to 3 seconds. This can become quite annoying when you have 40+ people who are on and off at all times throughout the day and really does hurt the games immersion. So if you get this title, be sure to play it offline, which brings me to the next big gripe I have with Project 8.

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It's balance time...
While the offline multiplayer is great fun, it doesnít makes sense that Neversoft did not include some online play here (it was in the X360 release!) and it does bring down the value of the game considerably. Add in a fairly unstable frame-rate and some noticeable clipping issues, and you start to see that this is far from the most polished Tony Hawk game released. However, to be fair, it is a launch title, and launch titles are infamous for such issues.

Of course, the biggest difference from one generation to the next is always going to be, at least at first, in the graphics, and Project 8 is no exception. Put simply, the game looks very shiny and is sure to wow spectators, as can be seen in surrounding screenshots. Unfortunately, what canít be seen in the shots is just how good this game looks in motion. The animation of skaters, both player and NPC is second-to-none and it will probably be some time until it is topped in this style of game. Unfortunately, as mentioned, the frame rate can sometimes be unstable and noticeably so. Given that the game is running at 720p and not 1080p as is the case with some other releases, this is pretty much inexcusable and the scores reflect this.

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THP8 is another solid launch title.
Audio is up to the usual Tony Hawk's standard, with a good selection of songs varying from indie-rock to some metal (not enough for my tastes!) and a wide range of high quality skate samples. Voice acting is also fairly solid, and all this is delivered beautifully in Dolby Digital 5.1 for those of you able to take advantage of it.

Itís kind of hard to rate this game at the moment, because regardless of what it receives now, in a year or two when we are into second generation PS3 games, it will more than likely seem like too high a rating. With that in mind, we do have to consider it as a launch title and while Tony Hawk's Project 8 might not be the title that is going to sell systems, itís definitely a nice addition to any PS3 gamersí collection. The new features make up for the lack of some old ones (except online play) and the release definitely feels like a next-gen game. Overall; thumbs up.

Review By: Michael Hutchesson

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GRAPHICSTony Hawk's Project 8 looks good, and animation is amazing. Some frame rate issues thogh.
SOUNDPlenty of audio tracks, great samples and solid voice acting. Great as always.
GAMEPLAYas fun as ever, but the lack of online multiplayer does hurt.
VALUEPlenty of goals to try and get the high score on, nice offline multiplayer options, but again, no online play is pretty much inexcusable.
OVERALLTony Hawk's Project 8 is far from the worse release available at the PS3 launch, but itís not the must-have it could have been.

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