Tony Hawk's Project 8

Format: Xbox 360

Age Restrictions: 12+
16 November 2006

Re-engineered from the ground up,
Tony Hawk's Project 8 immerses players in the definitive skateboarding experience using ultra-realistic graphics, enhanced physics and responsive controls that simulate the feeling of skating with every trick and bail. The game challenges players to experience the intensity and pressure of skating against some of the world's top pros in true to life competitions as they aim to become the number one skater...

If you've played one Tony Hawk game you've played them all. That was the feeling at Sci-fi-online towers until Tony Hawk's Project 8 landed in our in-tray. It's not that they are really that similar, just that the last few releases haven't offered much that new and exciting. The latest game in the franchise takes some of the best elements from previous games as well as introducing new twists to the popular series.

Where to start? I suppose the tutorial, as most people (unless they've recently played one of the other Tony Hawk games) will need to refresh their memory on the basic controls. The tutorial is a bit of a pig. To be honest, unless you can remember the basic controls from previous games, you may find yourself scratching your head when it comes to pulling off some of the moves.

And, if you've never played a Tony Hawk game before you'll need to start on the tutorial anyway. So it was therefore a little strange to see that the developers took it as red that everyone would understand the jargon they used without fully explaining it to the novice. And why, on certain areas like where a gentle tap of the stick keeps you balanced and pushing the stick will make you fall off your board, was this not fully explained. To be honest the novice will probably get fed up not being able to complete the training level and become disillusioned with the whole thing. This is a shame, because there is one hell of a meaty game waiting those that persevere with the tutorial.

However, once you are into the game proper you are in for a treat. Visually the game is leaps ahead of previous instalments, and the animation is a lot slicker too.

"Nail the Trick" mode is a new area for the franchise. This slows down the action so that you can freestyle tricks. There are also a heap of cool mini games on offer (human bowling is a scream) to keep you coming back for more.

There is more free roaming to be done in this game that in previous instalments - which is a blessing and a curse depending on which missions you are attempting to complete.

At the end of the day fans of the franchise will lap this up and newcomers (assuming they can stick with the tutorial) will kick themselves for not coming to the party sooner.

Nick Smithson

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