If there was something I felt fairly certain about in the videogaming world, it was that I really was not going to buy another Tony Hawk’s title. Underground, in my opinion, was just boring, and its predecessor Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4 really had everything I wanted.
Until Tony Hawk’s Project 8’s demo rolled out in Xbox Live. Skating never felt this good. Sports never felt this good. Indeed, I daresay videogames have very rarely felt this good. I noticed I was breathless after I figured out how to Nail The Tricks.
The new instalment is “next-gen”; it looks a lot better than last-gen skating titles did, but that’s not a lot said about a Tony Hawk’s title, which never looked that good. The physics are a lot better, but nothing exceptional. Animation, if anything, is truly good. They say the gameworld (naturally, a city) is entirely seamless, which sounds promising. It feels a lot more realistic, with less over the top air.
The new thing is the Nail The Trick mode, which is initiated during any aerial, including your most basic ollie (tap A), by clicking both control sticks. This zooms the view into your feet and deck and engages a very slow motion effect. In Nail The Trick, the sticks no longer control your spin or speed – instead, they directly control your feet, one for each stick. Then you kick the deck to make it spin and time it correctly to land with your deck upright. Naturally, you can combine half-spins and using both feet, kicking the deck into another direction in mid-spin. Everything is directed and animated to perfection.
You use Nail The Trick all the time and it feels sublime. The most basic leap down a curb feels so right when you add a perfectly executed simple spin to it. I couldn’t stop doing the basic tricks.
Something comparable can be found in Amped 2’s style meters, which encourage balletic, slow arcs, timed to perfection with your landing. Those felt very good, too, but Project 8 finally tops the sensation. Do yourself a favor and check it out.