So far, most of the early uses of Sony's tilt- and turn-sensing PlayStation 3 controller, the Sixaxis, seem to be fairly basic. Some games will let you steer, others use it for a quick melee attack, and so on. Activision and Neversoft appear to be going quite a bit deeper with Tony Hawk's Project 8 on the PS3, letting you use the tilt and motion sensors on the controller to control almost all of your movement, balance, and tricks. Taking into account that you still need to hit the face buttons to execute tricks, you could almost play the entire game with one hand.
Most of the Sixaxis implementation feels obvious and natural. You'll steer with slight twists to the controller, and all of your rail and manual balancing is done by tilting the controller sideways for grinds or forward and back for manuals. A quick down-up or up-down motion will get you into a manual, and a quick twist will do reverts if you're landing on a vert ramp or pivot if you're in a manual. From there, things get a little more complicated, because you can also do all of your tricks by hitting the face buttons while moving the Sixaxis around. The controls are mapped the same way they'd be on a D pad or the analog stick, so simple tricks like kickflips and heelflips are left or right and the square button. Diagonals get you varial heelflips and such, and double-tap tricks are done by moving the controller in the same direction twice. You can even pull off a no comply or a boneless by jerking the controller up before letting off the X button.
While many of the controls are just the same Tony Hawk controls mapped to a new style of input, a few things change more dramatically when you start tilting the controller. New to Project 8 is "nail the trick" mode, a slow-motion mode similar to the focus mode found in previous games but with a lot more depth. You drop in to this mode by pushing in both analog sticks. When you're playing with the regular controls, you need to grab both analog sticks and hold them in various directions, with each stick corresponding to one of your skater's feet. When the board is in the proper position, you can then move to different directions to branch off into another trick, or if the wheels are facing the earth, you can left off and put your skater's feet back on the board. With the tilt controls turned on, you still need to hit both analog sticks to drop into slow motion, but once you do, you tilt the controller around to do tricks, the idea being more that you're controlling the spin of the board, rather than each of your skater's feet. It seems as though nail the trick will take some time getting used to regardless of which style of control you use, but it also immediately seems like a powerful new addition to the series with some great scoring potential.
If you're at all squeamish about any of this tilt-controller madness, you can adjust the sensitivity to your liking or even disable parts of it. So if you want to use the tilting only for balance, you can. This seems like a good way to work your way up to full Sixaxis tilt control, as just grabbing the controller and going at it is pretty tough at first. It's a lot to think about, and Project 8's high speed doesn't give you much time to think. We didn't have enough time to go through the entire learning curve, but after 20 minutes or so, turning and balancing grinds felt pretty good, and landing simple tricks didn't seem too difficult, either. But completing the game on the "sick" difficulty still seemed like complete insanity. Look for Tony Hawk's Project 8 to come to the PlayStation 3 in November.