Tony Hawk’s new project
There has been only one true video game franchise in the world of action sports, and that is, of course, the Tony Hawk Pro Skater franchise. I have been a fan of the THPS games since 1999 when the first installment was released, and I have never turned back. This time, however, may be a different story. THPS Project 8 is available in three different and distinct versions. One version was developed by Neversoft for PS3 and Xbox 360 which is far superior when compared to the Shaba developed version for PS2 and Xbox only; the third was developed by Page 44 for PSP.
I was able to play the Shaba version of Project 8 that is available on PS2 and Xbox, and maybe I was expecting too much from this version. The gameplay of Project 8 is accurate and reactive, but some of the advertised features for the game are only available for the Neversoft version. I did not know this until I played the game, but the “Nail the Trick Spins” feature in which the player can control the skater’s feet individually, allowing for any movement of the board imaginable, is absent. Some other absent features that would have set Project 8 above its predecessors are motion captured tricks, wall-running, “Momentum and Gravity,” and rag doll effect on bails. These are some of the key features on the Neversoft version, yet all are missing from the Shaba version for PS2. Shaba really dropped the ball on this one; they should have done something to make up for the lack of features available. Project 8 is just another THPS, except without the “cool” factor.
I feel mixed on the graphics of the game. They are convincing, yet the actual animation of the skater’s faces is unrealistic and cartoonish. The framerate is noticeably unsteady and headaches plague the gamer because the camera does not know how to sit still. The character creation is lacking in almost every department, even when all the “unlockables” are unlocked. Other hallmark features of the THPS franchise have been downsized on Project 8, features like “create a park” and online play. The absence of online play is very strange. THPS 3 for PS2 was one of the first online capable games on the market, and now it is not available for any PS2 or PS3 owner. The “create a park” feature has been chopped down to nothing more than a few ramps and rails. The controls of Project 8 are set up just like previous THPS games, so if you have ever played any THPS game you know how to play this one, on the other hand, if have lived in a cave for the past seven years than there is a tutorial that teaches you everything you must know. Project 8 is just long enough for the gamer to grow tired of, because the game didn’t catch my attention and there was no “wow” factor to drive me to the end.
The story line of the game is that you are a local skater looking to get signed onto Tony’s new skate team called “Project 8” ( hence the name of the game which was named for the eighth installment of the franchise). That is truly about it, you go around proving yourself to city locals and pro skaters alike, trying to earn enough “stokens” to get signed. The city in which you play in is a large collection of all the skate areas from previous THPS games. This makes for a very real gaming experience since the whole city is seen as one skate park ready to be ripped open. The city contains all of the most recognizable territories such as the schools, the airport, and suburbia. The soundtrack of the game is award-winning, literally. Project 8’s soundtrack will keep you up all night, even if the game itself doesn’t. Bands that appear on the soundtrack are Gnarls Barkley, Primus, Kool and the Gang, Wolfmother, Nine Inch Nails, and too many more awesome ones to name. The voiceovers are just like all of the previous THPS games, they use the actual voice of the real person for the characters. This fact gives Project 8 a little boost in originality and reality points.
Overall impressions of THPS Project 8 are that if you own a PS2, don’t own this game, because it will only let you down. Shaba had a lot to compete with when going up against Neversoft’s previously created franchise. The soul of THPS games are noticeably absent in the PS2 version. Sure one can still use classic characters like Rodney Mullen, Mike Vallely, Bob Burnquist, Daewon Song, Stevie Williams, Tony Hawk, and a few others, but the “stuff’ that every good game must have is sadly and disappointingly missing.