After going through last year's Tony Hawk's American Wasteland I started to worry that the series was starting to lose some of its charm. The game was a lot like the rest of the series, but it felt like it was simply going through the motions instead of actually innovating. Thankfully Tony Hawk's Project 8 manages to fix a lot of the problems I had with American Wasteland. This new game may not be perfect, but it goes a long way to reminding me what was so great about the series in the first place.
As the title suggests, this is Tony Hawk's eighth game in as many years. In that time Neversoft has tried a number of different ways to keep the series fresh. Project 8 is no exception, however it manages to combine what was great about the first four Tony Hawk titles with some of the additions they have made to the Underground and American Wasteland games. Ultimately this is one of the best Tony Hawk games to come out of Neversoft in the past few years, but the game just can't reach the heights of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 and 4.
Fans of the series have a right to be disappointed by the last Tony Hawk game on the Xbox 360; American Wasteland was nothing more than a port of a PS2/Xbox game with slightly better graphics. This time around Neversoft has decided to build Project 8 from the ground up; specifically making the game for the newer systems that can push amazing graphics.
In a lot of ways this Tony Hawk game feels like it realizes some of the enhancements they were going for in American Wasteland. When American Wasteland was first announced the developers talked about how it would be a giant open world where everything connected together, but when the game shipped Tony Hawk fans were disappointed to learn that the levels weren't connected as seamlessly as was promised. This time around Neversoft managed to get it right, everything in Project 8 is connected; you can go from one side of the city to the other side without dealing with a single loading screen.
Despite the new graphics and open ended city, Project 8 is still the same old Tony Hawk experience you fell in love with years ago. The game still gives you a series of tasks it wants you to perform, stats you'll want to improve and money (in this case "Stokens") it wants you to earn. For the most part the game controls like it has for several installments now, all of the tricks and grinds are still mapped to the same buttons and you can do almost all of the special moves you learned in previous titles.
But that doesn't mean Project 8 has nothing new to offer you, this time around you will be given a brand new move that allows you to interact with your skater in ways you never thought possible. New to Project 8 is a move called "Nail a Trick", which you can start at any time by pushing down on both analog sticks at the same time. When you enter this mode the camera will slow down and zoom to your feet and skateboard. Instead of performing tricks by pushing the X or B buttons, you actually get to use the two analog sticks to control your feet. This means that you can customize your trick in a number of new ways just by holding the analog sticks in different ways. This mode is tricky at first (especially when it comes to landing), but after some practice you'll be amazed at the kinds of tricks you will be able to unleash. Unfortunately this is the only major addition to Tony Hawk's game play.
Outside of the game play, the game itself is actually set up a little different than previous Tony Hawk titles. In this game Tony Hawk is looking for the eight best skaters in the world, together they make (wait for it) Tony Hawk's Project 8. When you first enter the city you start out ranked number 200, so it's up to you to complete a lot of tasks and beat a lot of pro-challengers in order to improve your overall standing.
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