Iâ€™ve owned most of the Tony Hawk games, but as far as I can remember Iâ€™ve never finished any of them due to either tedium setting in or hitting a huge difficulty spike and getting frustrated. I found Tony Hawkâ€™s Project 8 to be a particularly harsh mistress – after four hours of play I only had four achievements worth 80G to show off and was coming up incredibly short on pretty much all the score-based challenges.
With this in mind I wasnâ€™t holding out much hope for Shaun White Skateboarding, which I snapped up for Â£5 pre-owned in HMV last month. I thought at the very most Iâ€™d get a hour or two of play out of it and unlock a few of the easier achievements before hitting a proverbial brick wall. But Iâ€™m pleased to say I stuck with it until the end. Itâ€™s a lot easier and simpler to play than any of the Tony Hawk games – and even EAâ€™s Skate – and itâ€™s all the better for it.
When grinding rails itâ€™s a bigger challenge to try and fall off then it is to stay on. A lot of the missions in the first half of the game donâ€™t have time limits either so youâ€™re free to complete them at your own pace which gives the game a nice relaxed vibe.
Itâ€™s a game thatâ€™s reminiscent of THQâ€™s deBlob in many ways – the world has been taken over by a corrupt government which has stripped the colour out of the environments and forced people to wear grey suits. â€œDonâ€™t try too hardâ€ reads one of the amusing â€˜de-motivationalâ€™ posters. Every time a trick is performed a shockwave is unleashed that fills the world up with colour. Stringing tricks together builds influence and the more of this you have the bigger the shockwaves.
As the story – which involves taking the ministry down before freeing Shaun from prison – progresses you earn new skills giving the ability to raise and lower the land at will and create glowing green rails to grind to access higher areas. Later on you have to hack terminals which entails playing a mini-game involving guiding a ball through a maze, Marble Madness style.
An abandoned theme park is the pinnacle of the level design – you can grind an entire rollercoaster from start to finish. Thereâ€™s also a pretty decent action sequence about half way through where you have to avoid incoming fire from a helicopter while racing downhill at a very fast pace. A little bit of steam is lost towards the end when youâ€™re forced to backtrack to previous areas, but the want to see the ending kept me playing.
Despite Tony Hawkâ€™s Project 8 being five years old, when I fired it up last month I still found people playing online, yet here I couldnâ€™t find anybody to have a bump and grind with. Itâ€™s a shame – from having a fiddle in local multiplayer it appears that Ubisoft put a lot of effort into the amount of online modes.