previews\ Sep 13, 2006 at 8:00 pm

Tony Hawk's Project 8 - 360 - Preview 2

The long-running Tony Hawk series has been a staple with Activision for many years now, with the franchise going into its whopping eighth entry this fall. Unfortunately, even the most stalwart Tony Hawk fan would have to admit that previous entries in the series have been feeling a little stagnant. Activision and developer Neversoft have undoubtedly taken note of this and have decided to completely revamp their next entry to the series with Tony Hawk’s Project 8.

Designed to take full advantage of next-gen hardware capabilities, Tony Hawk’s Project 8 will offer amazingly realistic graphics set in a seamless world. GameZone was recently given the opportunity to visit Neversoft’s headquarters to check out the progress of the game, and the results were pretty impressive. By offering up a truly next-gen experience, Tony Hawk’s Project 8 should be the game to put the Tony Hawk series back on its feet, er, wheels.

For the creation of Tony Hawk’s Project 8, Neversoft’s team erupted to 130 people (from roughly around 40 for previous entries). The game will utilize motion-capture technology from real professional skaters to accurately portray their signature moves and individual skate styles (click here to see a new video of the mo-cap process for Tony Hawk’s Project 8). Mo-cap video cameras would film the skaters performing tricks at 120 frames per second, which could then be slowed down to show the move from any angle. Sessions were sometimes held for several days, and yielded hundreds of different moves from the pros.

However, the animation isn’t where the eye-candy ends. Scanning technology was used to map the pros’ faces to their digital avatar, promising to make for the most realistic characters ever in a Tony Hawk game. Each skater will have 7,000 polygons, more than twice that of any other Tony Hawk game.

Tony Hawk's Project 8 Xbox 360 screenshots

The world in Tony Hawk’s Project 8 is a continuous one where players must work their way up the ladder to become the best out of 200 skaters. Completing goals will up your rating, but you’ll also need to be on the lookout for gaps and special tasks in order to become number one. The overall structure of the game is based upon the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4 model, so expect it to be much less story driven than the prior three entries and more focused on gameplay and the goal system.

Building up your character is done over a period of playing time, as stats will accumulate historically. So, basically, instead of having to do a certain special trick to earn a stat point, your upgrade will be based on a total that is stored with your character each time you play.

Tony Hawk's Project 8 Xbox 360 screenshots

One new gameplay addition will be “Nail the Trick”. By clicking in both analog sticks during an ollie, the world will slow down and you’ll be able to take manually control your legs during a kickflip, thus doing one however you see fit. During Nail the Trick, you rotate the board, tweaking it in mid-air and gaining bonuses for variety as well as doing things like flipping it with the trucks up and so on. There are also special ramps strewn about the environment that'll allow you to kick off and perform a Nail the Trick. However, it’s often tempting to bite off more than you can chew in this mode, and one small slip up could result in a spectacular bail.

Thankfully, bails are quite fun this time around. Wrecking on your board will toss your character rag-doll-style across the ground. Tapping the “Y” button will allow you to tweak your limp body as it crashes against light poles, curbs, and other people and so on. There are even bail goals that require you to rack up your “hospital bill” (namely, points that you get for causing the most damage to yourself) and attain a certain number of broken bones. However, they can get a bit more extravagant than self-mutilation, ranging from goofy missions like using your body as a bowling ball to knock down pins (similar to Flat Out).

Tony Hawk's Project 8 Xbox 360 screenshots

Completing certain goals in the game will yield more than points, but could also unlock new moves in the Pro Tricks Viewer. The Pro Tricks Viewer allows you to view the special Mo-cap videos with the pro skaters performing their signature moves. The look is extremely accurate and realistic, allowing players to virtually dissect their favorite skater’s moves to see exactly how it’s done.

The game will also feature some great Xbox Live elements. Aside from the persistent leaderboard that showcases your skills against other gamers, all the familiar and fun online games are showing up, as well as a new “Wall” mode, which has you performing tricks with a wall following your character, an effect similar to the Light-cycles in Tron.

Tony Hawk’s Project 8 is turning out to be an impressive game that will properly showcase the successful franchise in the next-generation. Look for it this November.

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