This game comes in two completely different versions, the last gen – xbox in my case, and the new gen, or ps3 for me. I’m going to cover these separately in this video, because they’re really different, and they feel nothing alike. Plus, a few people said that the older version is actually better, and I have to agree… in fact, the ps3 version literally made me sick. stay tuned for this one, but let’s take a look at this for now.
The last gen version of Project 8 feels really weird. It looks and feels pretty much the same as the other games in this generation, but dumbed down and simplified. That’s because the main version of this game is simplified, and so this port has to have the same stuff removed. So stuff like getting off of your board, riding different kinds of vehicles, pressure flips, and ALL of that kind of stuff is gone. It’s pretty much Tony Hawk 3 again, but with spine transfers, focus mode and body flips. Plus the Nail the Trick feature, but I’ll talk about that in the PS3 section. And I should mention, you can technically get off of your board, but it’s very rare that you’ll have to. It just helps you reach certain events easier, if you choose to. In fact, I didn’t even know you could get off your board until after I beat the game. The control for it is different and it’s never required in the game.
Dumbing this down really isn’t a bad thing at all. I liked the games more when they were like this, but it just feels kind of weird. If you played this game in a vacuum, not knowing about the other version, you would probably think you just never unlocked these moves or something.
So, the story of the game is the same in both versions. Tony Hawk has heard that your city has a lot of untapped skateboard talent, and he wants to let everyone compete to be in his top 8 list of skaters. Seriously, they don’t mention MySpace, but you know that’s what this was based off of. Back in the day, you could pick your 8 best friends on MySpace and they would be featured on your page. It caused tons of drama in high schools all over the world. And this is the video game version of that.
To get Tony to acknowledge you, you have to complete challenges. These are laid out differently than in other games, where there are 3 different levels of completion. Depending on how well you beat the challenge, you’ll get more of a boost toward getting higher in the rankings.
Something you’ll notice right when you get started is that this is clearly a port, and it didn’t have too much attention paid to it. This is the very first challenge I did in the game. All I have to do is grind around the curb of the cul-de-sac here and ollie over the driveways. But it’s pretty much impossible to actually do that. I never managed to even get the first one. I didn’t know what I was missing… until I played the other version. You can do that no problem in the new engine. So they just took this challenge and the level design, pasted it into the old system, and didn’t worry about whether it still worked or not. Luckily, this kind of thing doesn’t happen often.
Another thing you’ll notice is the updated animation system. I don’t really know how I feel about it. The boards look weird to me, like they’re way too short, and the tails curve to be really steep on the ends. They did a ton of motion capture for the main version of the game, and some of that leaked through to this one. Most of the time, it looks good, but sometimes it seems like they had to tweak the animation too much to make it fit. 360 flips look bad, and a lot of the grinds look weird. It seems like they had trouble with all the transitions. We’ll talk about this more later because it’s a bigger issue in the main version. But you do unlock the motion capture tricks and you can move around and watch them from different angles. This is genuinely pretty cool.
They also added in spin directions, which are wrong for everything but fakie. The PS3 version is the opposite, and fakie is the only one that’s wrong.
There are some new challenges in this game, like the level record challenges. You have to grind a certain distance, like that curb from earlier, but there are manuals, wallrides, high airs, and some other things. These work well in this version, even though they suck in the other one.
And I also need to mention the new features exclusive to the last gen version. First is this blue timer. It basically gives you some grace time to do another trick when you land from vert. In other words, it makes reverts unnecessary. You can just land your trick and then do something else quickly enough and it counts as a combo. I have absolutely no idea why they added that in. It kind of sucks. You could land your trick, and then bail, but if the timer is still going, you’d lose your combo. I don’t know why this is in the game.
They also added in the option to manual by hitting the flip button. I never bothered with this, since I have 17 years of muscle memory for hitting up-down to do a manual. But this feature makes the game worse. X is also the button you hit to talk to people. I can’t count the amount of times I did a manual and crashed into someone when I meant to talk to them.
This version also has after-images of your balance meters. If you land a grind leaning off to one side, the next time you grind in that combo, the meter will restart in the same place it left off. So this gives you a little extra notice so you can start correcting right away.
Again, none of these features are in the other version. I think they might be trying to make up for all the things that are missing. Like the open world design. This version is classic Tony hawk style where you unlock other levels. I didn’t mind this at all. It kept performance high for the gameplay, and the load times are short, and even the loading screens are nice. I’m glad they didn’t try to add in the load tunnels from American Wasteland. It wouldn’t have worked here, but instead of forcing it, they just kept it old school.
Speaking of old school, the classic challenges are back. But instead of being a separate mode, they’re baked into the career mode. So you’ll collect skate letters and all that kind of stuff you’re used to. But they all collectively count as one challenge in the game, making them a lot harder than anything else.
As you beat challenges, you unlock sponsors. Again, this is weird. You collect them all, Pokemon style, instead of picking one. It makes sense from a gameplay perspective because you get more stuff as you play, but it doesn’t make sense that you have 5 deck sponsors.
I’m going to gloss over a lot of stuff here, like the appearances from pros, because that’s all in common with the PS3. But I did want to mention the exclusive level… this isn’t in the other version. If it looks familiar, that’s because it’s a lot like the downhill level that was exclusive to the PS1 version of Pro Skater 3. By the way, check out my review of that game. I was shocked at how good it was. But this is a crappy level. It basically just dumps you into the water at the bottom.
So, is this version any good? Yeah, it’s not bad. It might be worth 2 bucks these days, especially if you loved the earlier pro skater games. But it doesn’t have the same magic those early ones did.
But let’s get into the PS3 now.
Those of you who were around when this came out probably remember the trailer for this game, which it uses as an intro. The animation here looks completely incredible. Every tiny detail is spot on, and the board over flips a tiny bit and bounces back, and they ollie regular human heights and everything. It looked amazing! They also teased the nail the trick mode, and even motion control. This was going to be the sickest, most realistic skateboarding game in the world.
But it was mostly bull crap.
The PS3 version has tilt controls. Luckily, my controller is a cheap Chinese knockoff and doesn’t have the sixaxis stuff, so i don’t have to test that.
But the intro is all motion capture. Which is suddenly a big deal. They did motion capture back in 1998 when they were making Tony Hawk 1. So it isn’t really cutting edge, but they just made it into a gimmick for the trailer. The game still looks pretty much the same. It’s funny, they clearly used Rodney Mullen for everything, because there are a ton of npcs doing freestyle in the streets. Even the pros are freestyling when you find them. I didn’t know Bam could do all that stuff! You know, maybe Rodney Mullen’s Liminal part would have been better if they just mocapped it instead of the multi camera set up they did.
Anyway, this stuff looks good, but the way they use it in the game doesn’t look great. A lot of the tricks look awkward, like they’re taken out of context. You know, like Tony Hawk recorded some tricks on vert and then they use them for street and the physics of that make the trick different. It’s hard to pin down, but it looks weird, doesn’t it? And the balancing and grinds just don’t look right. The freestyle looks really good though, like you’d expect.
I know this game was rushed. The Tony Hawk series was on a strict yearly release schedule, and they had to figure out two new systems at the same time, including this ps3 version, which was always supposed to be really hard to program for. So I get it.
But look at this. The half cab nose hook impossible, which is fine in Xbox, is actually a 360 shove it now. The 360 fingerflip is actually a frontside varial fingerflip. It’s not a big deal, but they come up a lot. AND, they have the real tricks captured anyway! It’s not that hard to either rename it or use the right animation. Either way is fine.
I think the faces might have been mocapped too. That might explain why you have so few options in the create a skater mode. It just gets worse every year. In this one, you pick a preset, then you get a couple of face options. That’s about it.
The other big promise was the Nail the Trick mode. This was supposed to be a huge, revolutionary advance in the series where you can use physics to control your feet and kick your board around, truly inventing your own tricks. This has been a dream of the developers since the create a trick mode in underground 1. I was really excited for this, because I was all about creativity and inventing tricks at the time.
But this is all it is. Flick your front foot up or down to do kick or heelflips. Back foot up or down to do shove its. You can do back flips or shove its with the board upside down, but that’s about it. That’s the entire mode. Every area has a nail the trick challenge, and you can do it whenever you want by clicking both sticks in. It works fine and it’s not glitchy or anything, but from the way they promised it, I was thinking I could scoop a little, do a varial half flip, then catch it and late flip to Casper, and pull it around… but it’s just one direction, stop, do another direction, then hopefully land. It was completely over hyped.
Aside from the new features and stuff, the game engine itself is different. It feels a little looser and sloppier. I had a lot of trouble adjusting to this version, after playing all the other versions back to back. That doesn’t mean it’s bad, but you’ll probably bail a lot when you first try it out. One of the things I really struggled with is trying to line myself up. Your character just wants to GO, and staying stopped and pivoting around doesn’t work very well. I feel like I was just kind of recommending where she does, and not actually controlling her.
It does get a bit glitchy though, which I guess you can expect from the first attempt at a new system. Sometimes you’ll pass right through collectibles without getting anything. Sometimes you’ll do a trick you’re supposed to do and it just doesn’t count, and a few other things. It never really gets too bad though.
Let’s look at some of the other events in the game.
Just like earlier games, you have contests where new ramps get put up for you. You have to qualify, and then beat a certain score to win. It helps in this version that they tell you what score you need to aim for. In the Xbox version, you don’t know how well you did until the judges’ scores come in.
There are also the spot challenges. Unlike the Xbox version, you start these by just finding one and doing it. So you don’t get the camera flythrough that shows you where to go. A lot of the time, you’ll start a grind or manual and just have no idea where you’re going. You have to go scout it out yourself if you want to actually finish it.
Pretty much every time you beat something, the game freezes and you get a phone call on your nokia. It’s incredibly distracting. I just want to play the game. I feel like I’m trying to use the Internet in the 90s – just constant popups for crap that mess up my computer.
Anyway, there are also film challenges. You have to follow the filmer around and do the tricks he wants. These aren’t bad usually, but you do them way too often. One of the cool things they tried to do is show his camera angle in the corner. I think that was a nice touch, but I would happily give it up if it meant I’d get more than 8 frames a second.
So I talked about how this game made me sick, and I wasn’t joking. The frame rate on this game gets so bad at times, and the camera is so close, that I got motion sick pretty much every time I played it. I was trying to hurry up and get the game finished so I could make this video, and I played it for a few hours straight one day. It made me so sick that I actually had a fever and everything. I thought I had the flu. But the next time I played, it happened again. I’m so happy that I finally finished this game, but I’m not looking forward to going back through all the footage to edit it.
Back to the events – you’ve got bail events that have goals like breaking bones and racking up a hospital bill. This is similar to what Skate would do a year later. But Skate actually did a good job. You have so little control over what happens that it’s just random chance. Sometimes you’ll just fly right out of the level. Sometimes you’ll just flop onto the ground. So you just hit retry and do it over and over again. Pretty crappy. Especially the Bam Margera pro challenge. This one took forever. I was supposed to land in the dumpster but kept overshooting by a mile and hitting an invisible wall.
Another new event is the demos. You have to skate around and keep the crowds happy, so you have to skate a little on this side, a little on this side, and a little over here.
There are also story events that you’ll do, like changing the clock at the school so it gets out early and you can go skate there. Look at these kids!! They sound excited, but look at their faces! That’s really creepy.
There are pro challenges, like the other games. These are probably the best part of the game. Daewon’s here is like a ‘floor is lava’ kind of thing where you have to get across the parking lot without touching the ground.
PRod wants you to do different tricks on a rail, and then has you grind around this fountain. You unlock their footage and special tricks when you complete these.
Some of them suck though, like Ryan Sheckler’s. You have to do a 540 varial heelflip off of this platform. But how? If you try to spine transfer onto it, it restarts you. You have to ollie all way from this platform onto this one, but it never tells you that.
Then look at this next part, where you have to boneless the gap to manual. Where is the gap and how do I get to it? I was thinking that I would hit the kicker over the grass and land in the manual. Maybe this little ramp here is to get speed? It keeps telling me to pump for speed, but there’s no pumping in the game, so I don’t know what that means. Then the game started glitching out like crazy.
After a hundred tries, I randomly figured out that you’re actually supposed to boneless over this gap and manual in the grass. As a skater, I never would have thought to ride on grass on purpose. And on this attempt, I just so happened to get 10 feet of extra air for no reason.
The last event I want to talk about is the Owned challenges. When you beat enough stuff in an area, you unlock these. Basically, you just hit the first thing in the line, then other stuff will light up and you have to do it all in a combo. Again, there’s no flythrough that helps you figure out where to go. And this one in the neighborhood area looks impossible.
After a while, I got stuck. I had beat pretty much everything, but I still wasn’t high enough in the rankings. I hadn’t been checking my phone because it’s so annoying, and I didn’t realize that I could go unlock the Jeep factory, sponsored by Jeep and featuring Jeep vehicles, such as the Jeep. yeah, in addition to Nokia, this game is also sponsored by Jeep. They’re around in the city, and they’re also all over this factory. You have to bank drop onto them too.
To beat the game, you just have to get your rank high enough, and then you’ll meet up with Jason Lee, AKA Coach Frank, who will reappear in Skate, and you meet Tony Hawk. You do a demo with him, and you’re on the team. The end. Tony challenges you to go beat everything at a higher difficulty level to rank up and do more events with him.
The thing is – the sick challenges are stupidly hard. For example – look at the classic mode. What do you have to do to get sick? Just complete all 10 objectives? No, you have to do it in one run. How about the photo challenges? You have to do ridiculous flip combinations and stuff that I’m not sure is even possible. The Xbox version was doable in sick mode, but this one is just completely over the top. You’d be playing this game for months trying to 100% it. And I have no interest in putting myself through that.
So which version of the game is better? It’s gotta be the Xbox version. Even setting aside the motion sickness, this one is just better. One of my favorite differences is that you can pick a challenge out of the menu and you can instantly do it. In the PS3 version, you can’t jump to an event – you can only set a waypoint, which gets lost in this crowded compass anyway. Look at how much crap is in there! It’s not like I need to see all the stuff I already beat.
The engine is better, the performance is better, the animation is a little better.
I also like the stats in this one better. You earn them as you beat events and stuff. In this one, they’re more natural, like the system in Aggressive Inline. You have a stat for wallrides, which lets you hold on longer. But the problem is, you need to do a crazy amount of stuff to get the stats up. When I beat the game, after doing pretty much every challenge, my grind stat was around half way. I felt like I was still skating really slow by the end of the game, and it seems like they really, truly expected you to be playing this every day for months.
So, for the first time in my Tony Hawk review series, I’m going to tell you to just stay away from this one completely. Usually, even if the game isn’t great, it’s gotten so cheap that it’s worth trying. This time, it’s not. The Xbox version is okay if you’re completely bored and you’ve already beat every other skateboarding game 100%, but you’re not doing yourself any favors picking this one up.