Tony Hawk Project 8

"Welcome to Gamestop where we buy and sell used games how may I "…"

"That's great, thanks, here's what I need." I say as quickly as I can before the cashier gets too deep into his mental cue card. I pull a worn receipt out of my wallet and flatten it out on the counter between us. "I need Tony Hawk Project 8 for the Xbox 360. I have it preordered and almost paid for here." I point. "Now I want to take the 5 dollar reservation for Gears of War, here," pointing, "and I want to put that towards Tony Hawk. Then I'll just pay the difference, ok?"

The cashier, I learn later, is on loan from the EB Games across town and just stares at me blankly for a few seconds. A smile creeps onto his face and he nods in acknowledgement. "Oh, sorry, for a second I thought you meant to take the Gears of War credit and put it on Tony Hawk. Sorry, it's been a long day, man."

I blink at him and shake my head. "No apologies needed, friend, you got it right the first time. I do want to take that preorder credit and apply it to Tony Hawk."

I get another blank stare, no smile this time. "You want to cancel your preorder for Gears of War?"

"Yes."

"Why?" He says flustered, then manages to collect himself before continuing. "Are you sure? We have your copy here for you. It's really a lot of fun. You did preorder it so we have Gears of War if you want it."

Now it's my turn to be confused. "So, are you saying you don't have Tony Hawk?"

"Oh no, we have it!" he says. "I just thought, you know, you might want Gears instead. I mean, it's just another Tony Hawk"…"

Imagine this for 10 more minutes. Imagine the layers of horrified looks and unbelieving laughter I have to deal with before finally leaving with my prize and all aspects of the transaction completed to my satisfaction.

Imagine the drive home and the thoughts that flicker through my consciousness: Did I make the right choice? Will anyone else from the site even want to play online like I hoped? What have I done? They were both full price. I could take it back now and swap it out.

I get home, sit down, turn on my 360, place the game in the tray, and start it up"…and it is freakin' awesome!

I've been a fan of professional skateboarding for about 9 years now. I had a skate board when I was a little kid but I never did more than scoot around my driveway, ever since I first played Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 I've been completely intoxicated by the maneuvers these man-children can pull off. I bought the games. I watched skate movies. I bought a new skateboard, busted my ass until I put the board away in a closet, and I even started collecting Tech Decks. If you don't know what Tech Decks are I'm not going to explain it to you. If you do know what they are let me inform you that I can ollie and do kickflips with one.

I'm a big fat wannabe, and I have a long history of using the Tony Hawk games to fulfill a personal fantasy.

IMAGE(http://i47.photobucket.com/albums/f182/sfailey/Project8_logo.jpg)

Time Played – 11+ hours.
Completed? – Not a chance.
How many other Tony Hawks have I played? – 4, no 5.
Excitement level before purchase – Wet my pants enthusiasm.
Totally Radical? – Bet your ass!

The last Tony Hawk I played was American Sk8tland for the DS. The last one on a big console was THPS 3. One thing I noticed different in Project 8 right off the bat is that I have a lot fewer options to customize my skater. For Project 8 you have to pick from a few different body types which only have a few different heads and can only wear certain clothes and so on, but the good news is that it's not hard to get a skater that doesn't look like an obnoxious jackass. Mine is basically me with no goatee and about 80 pounds lighter. In other words, he's dead sexy.

After my quick Right Said Fred montage of dress up in the character editing screen I am faced with the first area in the career mode. I say area instead of level because that is exactly what it is. As I play and start to quickly unlock new areas I realize that the game is devoid of any world loading. I can skate out of the front of Suburbia onto Main Street up to the Capital Building back down to the School back through Suburbia and into a skate park and it never pauses or loads or pops. The only indication that you are in another area is some text that pops up on the top of the screen to name where you just skated into.

After about 10 minutes the open world and goals on every corner create an audible snap in my brain. Like Neo seeing the Matrix for the first time, I step back and look at the world in front of me. There is a water tower, which I can get on top of, a mountain top that I can skate to, and in the distance I can see the dome of a capital building showing me where the middle of the world is.

It's all here! It's actually, all, here! I've stepped through the Twilight Zone door and entered Skate Town, USA. They should have sent a poet.

As I trick and explore I am born again in an X-Treme baptism. I feel my love for this odd phenomenon of a franchise rekindle and start to burn bright in my soul. The skating is better than ever, the "Nail the Trick" and "Focus" systems are letting me skate more cleanly and with a level of technical accuracy I could never dream of before, and for the first time in a long time a game is letting me have complete, no-strings-attached, fun.

It's the kind of fun that I sometimes fear is gone from my life forever: jumping in leaves fun, lighting firecrackers under G.I. Joe's fun, daring your friends to do something you would never do yourself fun. I know it's clichéd and barely applies to my 22 (almost 23) years but this game makes me feel like a kid again.

For me, a long time member of the First Congregation of Benihana, I am having more fun for longer stretches of gaming with this latest installment then ever before. At this point the only thing that I think could top this experience is if the Wii went all out and released special "Shoe-motes" for their next Tony Hawk game.

I made the right choice up at the game store. Even while listening to my roommate play Gears of War in his room while I am shredding the side of a park bench, I feel relief that I didn't trade this experience for yet another shooter, even an exceptional shooter. In the immortal words of one of the world's most famous skaters, Gears of War can "eat my shorts."

Comments

Dang and I was so looking forward to shredding your poor face with a chainsaw Chiggie!

Skateboarding games? I dunno. A philosophical question I have regarding thsse is as follows: if I compared them to pro wrestling games, which one of the either genre would need to feel insulted more?

polypusher wrote:

Dang and I was so looking forward to shredding your poor face with a chainsaw Chiggie!

You just thank your lucky stars I'm skating instead of kicking your butt!

Out of the three games I got that week, here is the order in which I have spent the most time:

Viva Pinata

Tony Hawk Project 8

Gears of War

Gears of war is pretty, but bland. I really like the other two.

Nice right up. I ordered it from fry's, but it's on back order :(. Hopefully they'll ship it out by this weekend so I can have for Turkey Day. Tony has missed the last 2 Thanksgiving Dinners and we want him back!

It's all here! It's actually, all, here! I've stepped through the Twilight Zone door and entered Skate Town, USA. They should have sent a poet.

That's the smartest thing I've read this week. Good piece also.

Cool perspective Chiggie - i liked the prologue

You're only 23?!! My god, i'm ancient!

I've always liked free-roaming games, that's why i'm really looking forward to Twilight Princess and why i liked oblivion and morrowind. Can't really think of any others as i always got a little lost in the GTA games and felt they were a little pointless.

This was the other "big game" I bought last week (or was it the week before?) It's as good as Chig says. I fire it up during CCs and just kick around.

I will say, I love "Walls" the new multiplayer game. Chig and I have spent a little time on it. It's tron with kickflips.

Duoae wrote:

Cool perspective Chiggie - i liked the prologue

You're only 23?!! My god, i'm ancient!

I've always liked free-roaming games, that's why i'm really looking forward to Twilight Princess and why i liked oblivion and morrowind. Can't really think of any others as i always got a little lost in the GTA games and felt they were a little pointless.

If you're really that old, why not Ultima?

Great piece, Chigster!

As a first-time Tony Hawk game player, getting into this game was pretty intimidating. It didn't help that the tutorial seemed to be: skate forward. Great! Jump. Great! Do an invert 360 into an Immleman grind and top it off with a Schrodinger cat. Didn't get that? Try again... maybe next time... or next time.

I did much better by just going out into the world and trying the challenges. The directions were much more clear (though not always perfectly clear) and there wasn't so much frustration. If a challenge got tiresome, I could just try a different one, or just skate around and goof off.

All in all, it seems like a nice "goof around" game. I know that I'll never complete all (or most) of the challenges, but just messing around and sampling some of what the game offers is good, simple fun.

I think a round of followups on these perspectives might be valuable. Most of these have been written while the shiny newness of the game hasnt worn off. It'd be interesting to see how the excitement and positives change after about 2 weeks, if at all.

The last few nights I've found myself succumbing to this game's siren song, despite the calls of Gears of War, Final Fantasy VII, Call of Duty 3, Okami, and others. I'm absolutely entranced by the way it allows me to switch effortlessly between a leisurely, relaxed gaming experience and one that is intensely focused and precise. And I'm amazed at how I've gone from completely inept to almost competent in just a few hours time -- the tricks that initiallty seemed way beyond by grasp are now far less intimidating.

There is so much of this game that is just hypnotic: the nail-the-trick visuals, the exhilaratingly impossible physics, the precise controls. And the sounds! The rythmic patter of wheels on sidewalks and the scrape of wood on concrete echo in the back of my head.

There's a fair amount of griping about the lack of character custmiztion options Project 8 offers. I think this and other issues raised are far outweighed by the sheer free-form, addictive fun the game offers.

I'm with Duoae - I already have enough reasons to feel old this week.

After the drubbing I gave them on the content in the two THUG games, I figured I'd better not review this one. So one of the other guys is going to handle it.

I'm glad to hear they got the skating right, but I think we're going to miss the full on Create-a-Skater. Sounds like this is going to be a Christmas present for the wannabe at my house.

Have you figured out how to turn on Moon Physics or any of the rest of it?

I agree, the tutorials were horrible. I had to work on the final exams half a dozen times each just to get past them.

I can't believe I'm the first one to comment on the delicious irony that is Chiggie's difficulty getting a game store to give him what he wants, when it has recently been revealed that he is a heartless enabler and shill for them.

But seriously, what would you need GoW for? You can't just walk into Danjo's room and play co-op or deathmatch with him? It seems to me that more than one copy per household would be overkill, and this is coming from a guy who thinks that both he and his fiancee need hardback copies of Harry Potter 7 the day it comes out.

And I will say that your enthusiasm for this game is working to increase my level of interest. I know I don't need any new games, but I have no game that occupies the pure fun niche that Tony Hawk does. I'd say that there's a good chance I'll pick it up this weekend, unless I somehow ending up with a Wii instead.

dejanzie wrote:

If you're really that old, why not Ultima?

Okay, to be fair i'm not that much older than Chiggie... but sometimes you just see what younger people than yourself can accomplish and it makes you feel old. If the other person is older you can always justify it by telling yourself its just taken them years of practice

The way people are describing this game, it's reminding me of SSX3 - that was another "free-roaming" game i was trying to remember.

I was a bit young to play Ultima but do various Final Fantasies count? They all end up free-roaming...

You know, while you are on an "extreme sports" kick, you may be interested in trying out Amped 3. If you ask me it was one of the most underrated of the 360 launch titles. It had a number of huge, openly explorable mountains and a good, solid Tony Hawk feel to the gameplay that really floated my boat when I finally got around to playing it last spring. The only potential drawback are the over the top goofy cutscenes that present the game's story, but if you can get past their extreme weirdness, many of them are actually quite clever, inventive, and entertaining.

I played the demo of Amped 3 and it felt over simplified to me. Maybe I didn't give it a fair shake.

Duoae wrote:

If the other person is older you can always justify it by telling yourself its just taken them years of practice

Are you saying it didn't take me years of practice?

Im sure Amped is pretty cheap now. It was definitely fun. A crazy kind of wacky fun. The tricking system is pretty loose, much more forgiving than most similar games but it's both fun and challenging. I mean, you start the game in a pink bunny suit (Very much like the one in Rabbit's avatar)

Chiggie Von Richthofen wrote:

Are you saying it didn't take me years of practice? :)

LOL, yes... er, no?

Hehe, what i meant was that there's this feeling that when someone younger than you can pull off amazing stuff (for me at least) there's a tendancy to believe that they are just naturally gifted. I think it's a way of proving to myself that i'm not a worthless loser who's wasted my whole life thus far

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