Tony Hawk's Project 8 Impressions

Ever wanted to kickflip with your analog sticks? Well now you can with the first Tony Hawk game designed from the ground up for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

Want to know what's new about Tony Hawk's Project 8, the latest game in Activision and Neversoft's long-running skate series? OK, fine. Just about everything. That's not to say that the same basic ideas that founded the series are history, but many of the core systems and routines that have powered the game for years have been rebuilt from the ground up in order to better take advantage of modern console hardware. Representatives from Activision and Neversoft recently dropped by the GameSpot offices with an early version of the game running on an Xbox 360, and so far, the differences appear to be really interesting.

The premise of the game moves it away from the more rigid, story-driven path of the last few Tony Hawk games and, in a way, returns it to the open-ended, thick-with-goals feel of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4. In the game, Tony Hawk is looking to put together a roster of the top eight amateur skaters in the world. Hence, Project 8. You play as a rank-200 nobody who has to claw his or her way up to the top eight.

The first step is to create a skater. The creation system is undergoing some changes this year and will have you select a "style" for your skater before you start putting on pants and shirts. Some of the styles will include punk and hip-hop, and there will also be styles that allow for female and kid skaters. You'll start out in a relatively small section of the world, but as you complete tasks, more sections open up. This is sort of similar to how Tony Hawk's American Wasteland attempted to deliver a seamless version of Los Angeles, but Project 8 will do it without resorting to small tunnels that connect the areas and mask the load times. It sounds like there will be around 12 different areas that will open up as you progress through the game.

Just about anything you do has an impact on your overall rank. There are plenty of goals scattered throughout the world, and as you'd expect, they cover a wide variety of skate tricks, point goals, and so on. If you encounter a photographer, you can take on a photo goal, in which you perform a specific task while in range of the photographer. There are also film goals, whereby a guy with a camera will skate ahead of you, and you must follow while executing specific tricks. There will be some puzzling goals that'll force you to move objects around to create a skate line. You'll move objects using something similar to the park creator found in previous installments in the game, rather than having to skate up to things and push them around. Chalk challenge goals are skate lines that you have to combo on to succeed. The game keeps track of how messed up you get when you bail, too, setting up a bail challenge goal whereby you pass the goal by breaking a set number of bones and racking up a significant hospital bill in the process.

Direct, trick-making control over your skater's feet is one of the biggest additions to the latest Tony Hawk game.

Classic mode is a concept that has appeared in the past couple of Tony Hawk games, and it's designed to take things back to the old days, when you had a two-minute run timer and a slew of goals to complete. Classic mode returns in Project 8, but in an entirely different way. Now, you'll skate up to a pedestrian, trigger the classic mode goal, and all of a sudden, nine or 10 goals will be rattled off. A segment of the world will be walled off with cool-looking force fields, and you're essentially playing a new-style take on the old Tony Hawk goal system. What's more, if you want to truly master these classic mode goals, you'll have to accomplish every single task in one two-minute run.

While all of these goals are fine and good, it's the "nail the trick" goal type that'll really blow your mind. In the one we saw, Rodney Mullen showed up and asked us to perform a specific trick. But here's the difference. The nail the trick mode uses an entirely different control system. When you get in the air, things slow down a bit and the camera swivels around to show a clean view of the board and your skater's feet. Each analog stick controls a foot, from the sounds of things, and pushing in different directions causes the board to flip and spin in different directions, essentially letting you pull off your own tricks. The cleaner your direction taps are, the faster the board will spin, rewarding players for clean, methodical actions instead of just letting you jerk the sticks around and hope for the best.

In addition to using the new slow-motion, foot-control mode for nail the trick goals, you can drop in to this mode at any time by pushing in on both analog sticks. Since it sounds like this will be a key new feature for the series, it sounds like you'll want to use the analog stick at all times for control, which will sound immediately counterintuitive to anyone who's been playing Tony Hawk games for a long time. But this year, Neversoft is putting in work on the analog control to make sure that it responds with the same level of precision that fans of the series are used to.

Catering to existing fans while simultaneously trying to rope in new ones has proven to be a bit difficult for the Tony Hawk series as of late. Project 8 hopes to address this by removing the separate difficulty settings as a choice made at the very beginning of the game, and instead giving almost every goal in the game three distinct difficulty levels. So the basic player should be able to complete a goal's amateur requirements, while more advanced players will be able to step things up and keep going, completing goals on pro and sick. In goals like the film goal, the difference manifests itself in the number of tricks you have to complete before time runs out. Score goals ratchet up, and chalk challenges get downright ridiculous. If you only complete goals at the amateur level, you'll make it into the top eight, but pro and sick completion levels will take you all the way to the top. In addition to this, the game will have online leaderboards for its various challenges, letting you compare your scores and times directly with other online players.

This is the first Tony Hawk to be built from the ground up as a next-gen game.

In addition to completing goals, you'll also want to unlock stuff. Unlocks are managed with a currency system called stokens. If you skate near pedestrians and skate well, they'll get stoked and give up some stokens as a reward. But if you slam into them, they might get angry, chase you down, knock you over, and steal some stokens. You'll be able to buy new tricks, among other things, including access to the game's raw motion-capture data, letting you watch a computer representation of how the pro skaters do their tricks.

Visually, Tony Hawk's Project 8 certainly looks a lot better than previous Tony Hawk games. As the first game in the series being built with the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in mind, the developers are rebuilding the entire animation system, which should allow for more realistic-looking balancing acts on grinds, better-looking twisting animations when you go to pull off spins, and so on. The environments we saw looked pretty crisp, though keep in mind that this was an early, unfinished version of the game, so it still needs some particle effects and some frame rate optimization. We were shown the Xbox 360 version of the game, but Tony Hawk's Project 8 is also being developed on the PlayStation 3.

All in all, Tony Hawk's Project 8 is using the same "mix the old with the new" mentality that's driven the series all along. The difference is that there appears to be a lot more "new" in there than we're used to seeing, and the development team hasn't even really started talking about its plans for the online side of the game yet. It'll be very interesting to see how the final product comes together when it's released later this year.

Written By

Jeff Gerstmann has been professionally covering the video game industry since 1994.

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Discussion

88 comments
Rickioh
Rickioh

omg..... i just like this one, i want it

whiffste
whiffste

Wade36 i think i could beat u

dan2pro4u
dan2pro4u

Wow! I cannont wait!! I was hoping they would eventually get more realistic, and i hope this one is very realistic. Realism all the way!!

neogeon
neogeon

ok, to the statements about proprietary media formats, think about it this way, every PSX, PS2, XBOX, Gamecube, Jaguar CD, Dreamcast, SEGA CD are ALL proprietary formats because all of those disks can only be played using the official game system (especially since the BLEEM legislation) so it doesn't matter if blu-ray doesn't catch on in the DVD market because it will still mean more storage on game discs which is why its there in the first place. Also, don't forget, blu-ray isn't just sony anyway, there are lots of companies making blu-ray players, its not like UMD discs that can ONLY be played on a PSP. The only reason UMD never took off is because there is no "base station" player that can be hooked up to a TV so in other words once your PSP is outdated and you break/lose it all of your movies for it have no way of being played and you have a full set of $20 coasters.

themc_7
themc_7

it is pretty cool that they're making the game more realistic. B/c the last few have just been crazy and almost to the point where they aren't fun. I've wanted a realistic skateboarding game for a long time, but they're all too crazy. Hopefully this one turns out better.

jodyben
jodyben

Oh my God Sony freaks. I like sony too, but look at the run down. Sony has a long reputation of over playing its "aces" as one comment stated their launch games. Lets also remember Sony's support and developement of Beta and Super Disks. Don't know what those are, well you're not alone. They never got off the ground. Yes the PS2 was nice, but was also over hyped what it could do before it even came out. Not to mention the stories developing over their use of Mac's to run this year's e3 demos. What ever happened to over half their games they showed us last year. Well, they found that their processor ran streaming video so well that they stated the real game footage was real time even though it wasn't ... Hmm,..........

elemntsk8r111
elemntsk8r111

YES!!! this games sounds and looks awesome. i'm gald its getting more realistic. this'll probably be one of the reasons i get an xbox 360, cuz tony hawk's downhill jam looks pretty dumb and its definitly the most unrealistic one yet.

LAZZOR
LAZZOR

This game is the hawtness!

CR4WLEY
CR4WLEY

just watch the project 8 videos, they are the sickness.

GreggD
GreggD

360Knight, there are ragdoll physics during bails. Hope that clears things up, dude.

wade36
wade36

ALL will fear me when this game is released. Be warned!

02EclipseGT
02EclipseGT

28 launch games for the PS3 in almost less than 100 days. And gamespot cant find anything lol. But part o fthat is Sony is gonna hide the aces. But some of it is Cnet to. Sellouts.

JoetheMoe
JoetheMoe

The more real they make these games, the more my friends and i will enjoy them. this new feature seems like it will have a really good impression! i'm not saying the others don't but seriously underground 2 sucked. and the story seems awesome being a nobody then trying to become a top 8 amateur!

arczero01
arczero01

i can understand why ppl want the real physics but lots of ppl still want to mess around with it and have lots of unrealistic stuff but we won't really know until the games out. and plus ppl will still use the cheats anyway. but still it kinda looks cool

bminns
bminns

this game looks cool but enough already!!! give us a good long break inbetween games instead of pumping them out every year! there should really be about 4 tony hawk games instead of 50....

danteREO4
danteREO4

i wonder if this game is going to have a advanced create a park system cause all the other games had crappy glitches i hope this on lets u do better stuff

360Knight
360Knight

they should use the havoc physics engine in this game. it would make the entire experience more realistic. falls never looked that real in the past.

Turisman4
Turisman4

Why is Shaba on this game? After they butchered the PS1 version of THPS3, I don't think they deserve to be working on any next-gen console. Maybe they'll port Elite 8 to the PS2 and Xbox, but anything more than that is more than tolerable.

grave_rob
grave_rob

wow it's almost a 100% consensus: that video disappointed a lot of people. i dig tony hawk games. the style, the atmosphere, & especially the music, but it really feels like the series peaked a few years back & now they're just making $$$ on the name.

lookatyourshoe
lookatyourshoe

I agree with most of the other people who left negative comments about this game. I want a new skateboarding game of which has realistic physics and makes it difficult for you to perform a kickflip to boardslide down a rail.

dead-flag-blues
dead-flag-blues

I agree with El Hypno. No more 1,000,000 point combos because you can defy gravity and completely ignore the laws of physics. Disappointed.

ElHypno
ElHypno

I was psyched, now I'm bummed. This looks like its going to suck and be pretty much the same played out unrealistic game but with slow-mo flip tricks and some better.... grainy.... graphics. Crap.

Meeyoch409
Meeyoch409

i think it looks pretty damn cool specially the nail the trick mode.. probally the closest things are going to get to actually doing a kickflip,suvit,trey flip or w/e kind of anything virtually. Im pretty excited cant wait for it to come out. =D

Noel0001
Noel0001

its a good game but always has the same concept

grenadexjumpr
grenadexjumpr

If this game has stupid unrealistic physics, which it most likely will, it's just going to be another stupid kiddy expansion to the franchise. I don't want to play as a skater who can jump 100 feet into the air and do 1,000 kickflips in one vert jump.

stick_
stick_

love this series.....the newer ones, the thug ones, were ok, i really missed the competitions. i would like to see them make a shout out the the z-boys and make a story line around them as a spin off.

hurricane_boy
hurricane_boy

the rate of change of the rate of new ideas being produced for THPS franchise is declining (there's a fall in yank of ideas), and pretty soon (at max - 10 years,) the Tony Hawks franchise will eventually reach its peak, and will not be able to improve itself dramatically without branching out into concepts like murder, driving, and weather. For this reason I play GTA since it will eventually make skating and customer creation part of the elements of its games. Tony Hawk, I'm afraid, is a dying game.

dumdum32
dumdum32

Will the PS2 version fulfill these things like Shaba's THPS3 didn't for Neversoft's version?

indestined
indestined

i wonder how tony feels about these games... i'd feel pretty damn hot if they made like nine games for me, on like every single console... man! i'd make fans lick my feet!

Ryu16
Ryu16

I'm lookin forward for this game.

davidvanek
davidvanek

Seeing that last trailer didn't make me to happy but i guess we'll have to wait and see. It's great their trying but i think there wil never be a games that satisfies the real skateboarders such as myself.

msim
msim

hells yeah , i loves me some skatin. everyone needs to check out the hi def video of this on www.gametrailers.com . its kickass. hopefully they will revamp the create a skater thing with more options. by the way THPS 2 on the playstation will always be the greatest skating game : )

Slipknot411
Slipknot411

well cant wait till its out cause i love sk8er gamez!:D

loic54
loic54

it blew me away!

m7med
m7med

the hall series was great and seems to do new u things i just hope they don't blow it

cubeman
cubeman

I am looking forward to this game, I have liked the whole series and this one should be among or the best. However THAW wasn't that great.

Writeous
Writeous

i think that it is good that they are trying to be innovative this-time-around. it gives the game more incintive to be worth the $60 price-tag

Hessian593
Hessian593

I think it should be all real. No stupid Combos no Stupid Goals no thirty foot Ollie. Just skating and learning tricks. Realistic tricks may i add. and if they ever make another hollywood high make it possible to do!!!!! Does anyone else hope that reynolds is in there with his wicked F/s flips?

davidbowie111
davidbowie111

well, the first poster has something totaly wrong...the series was sweet until thug...i mean...atleast 4 was almost real...i skate in real life, have bin since b4 thps...and the games...are...well..unrealistic...in thps2, 2 million points was sweet...in thug, a 2 million point combo wasnt really that sweet at all... all you loyal fans have to agree, SCREW THE NEW STUFF, in witht he old

lukefartedagain
lukefartedagain

Umm.....gtrslinger...... if Neversoft didn't change the game setup and everything, the series would really suck. Honestly, if there was a Pro Skater 5,6,7, and now 8, which was only you playing as one of the pro skaters doing the same challenges over and over again in new levels, would you still like the series? The gameplay has to change or else it will get old. At least now they're trying to change it up again and make it fresh. And if you're so over the series, why are you still reading about it and posting on message boards? Anyway, I'm psyched for this game.

GuessWhat401
GuessWhat401

Can somebody please get hoosierdude4950 a spellchecker? Or perhaps a 9th grade English class? Oh, and I'm excited for this game to come out. Maybe rebuilding everything will help revitalize the franchise. If not, I'm still gonna try it out for the hell of it.

Sampas88
Sampas88

Tony Hawk series are one of my favorites ever!

mveziris
mveziris

Wow i thought tony hawk was dead. I thought they couldnt do anything to make the games better but i guess they found a way. I hope it works cause I love tony games