Instead of featuring a linear set of tasks, Project 8 actually gives you a lot of flexibility when it comes to how you want to play. There are a few different kinds of tasks to accomplish in the game, all of which are a lot of fun and quite diverse. Some of the tasks you will get from citizens around town that just happen to be glowing a funky orange color. Other tasks you will find on the walls and on posters. Most of the tasks you need to complete are nothing more than spray paint challenges. These goals require you to manual for a certain distance, grind until it tells you to stop or wall ride to a certain height. This is a new and interesting way of giving you things to do that doesn't come off feeling like it's forced.
Each of these challenges has three different difficulties it wants you to complete. If you're just looking for an easy time then chances are you will want to deal with the AM (amateur) tasks. Those who need a little extra challenge will try for the PRO tasks. And if you're a die hard fan who has been playing the game so long that you can do just about anything with the skateboard, then the SICK tasks are for you. Without a doubt this is the most difficult Tony Hawk title I have ever seen, it's going to take all but the best skaters hundreds of hours of play before you will even get close to completing all of the sick tasks. While there's no doubt that some of these goals are the very definition of frustrating, it's nice to see Neversoft experimenting with the game's difficulty. Recent Tony Hawk games have been so easy that even new fans could breeze through them in only a day or two; Project 8 will definitely have you working on the story mode for days, if not weeks.
Tony Hawk games are only as good as their level designs, and Project 8 is something of a mixed bag. I love the idea that you can go from one part of the city to another without worrying about load times or breaking your combo, but not every part of the city is as interesting as it should be. Throughout the course of the game you will skate through main street, the capitol building, a school, the slums, a factory, an amusement park, a small residential neighborhood, and more. These areas are generally large and offer a lot of different things to do tricks on (and over). The problem is that we've seen a lot of these locations done better in previous Tony Hawk games. There are a few parts of the game that really stand out, but much of the level design left something to be desired. Hopefully Neversoft will be able to build a more interesting world to skate in when they come out with their ninth installment next year.
While we're complaining about Project 8's shortcomings, it's worth mentioning that the game doesn't give you much control over who you want to skate as. At the beginning of the game it offers you a half dozen characters to select from, from there you can customize them in several different ways (change clothing, facial features, etc.). To be fair this is more than you were able to do in American Wasteland, but it's hard not to feel like the create-a-skater options are woefully inadequate. Considering how much control you've had in previous Tony Hawk games it's hard to understand why they would limit the customization so much. Ultimately this isn't that big of a deal, but it kind of left a bad taste in my mouth from the very beginning.
Thankfully not everything is bad. Project 8 has wisely decided to excise some of the more recent additions to the series. This time around you won't have any missions that require you to board a bicycle. You also won't need to drive a car. And you can forget about running up buildings and jumping from one wall to another. These additions were completely unnecessary and it's nice to see Neversoft get rid of them and focus on what made Tony Hawk's games so good: the skating.
Once you've grown sick and tired of skating through the virtual world you can switch over to the game's many multiplayer modes. Ever since Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 took the series online Neversoft has been adding new modes and allowing for a greater amount of game options. Project 8 is no exception, you can play to a certain score, see who can get the most points in a set amount of time, see who can tag the most pieces of the environment, find out who can perform the best combo and more. Perhaps the most interesting multiplayer mode comes in the form of Walls, a crazy Tron-like game where your skater has a bright wall coming out of his back. You get a point whenever a human opponent runs into your wall, making for one crazy experience that is both fun and bizarre at the exact same time.
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