Tony Hawk’s Project 8
Tony Hawk’s Project 8 finally brings a brand-new engine to the Tony Hawk franchise, being built completely from the ground up – rendering, animation, physics, and even the design tools. Characters are no longer hand-built, but full scans of the actual personalities in a machine that apparently resembles an MRI.
Neversoft built their own motion capture facility to capture the smaller stunts and tricks, relying on a large studio only for the pipes. A variety of performers contributed to this, including Tony Hawk himself. The end result is that the animations are more fluid and informative, the player relies less on the GUI to balance a grind than he does on the animations themselves, for example. Naturally, the game looks a whole heck of a lot better, finally giving off that next-generation feel after the somewhat disappointing American Wasteland.
The core gameplay remains basically the same – hit tricks, score points. The tricks and their combinations are still as easy to hit as in previous Hawk games – don’t expect the end results to be more realistic, just more pretty. However, there have been tweaks, especially with the difficulty levels. Rather than choosing a difficulty at the start and trying to finish the game like that, each trick has its own levels – so if you’re really good, you can always try for a Sick finish, but you’re not obligated to in every stage. This is rather like the Gran Turismo licensing system.
There will be 12-player Xbox Live, including a “snake” game, where you try to cut across the path of other players using your snake. Tron, anyone?
Too Human, from Silicon Knights and exclusive for the Xbox 360, is a very stylized action combat game not dissimilar to Diablo or God of War. While lacking – at least during this demo – the latter’s impressive gore, the style of combat is somewhat similar.
Too Human has the player in the role of a high-tech Norse-style god (specifically the Cybernetic God Baldur), trying to save the human race from a menace of mythical monsters that learned technology while humanity was staving off a massive ice age. If that sounds complicated, don’t worry- the gameplay is anything but. Within roughly 30 seconds of sitting down with the game, I was wreaking divine carnage like a pro. Too Human allows the player to use two guns (on independent targets even), a melee weapon, or a melee weapon and a gun. This works so seamlessly that we wonder if it isn’t too easy – intuitive is good, but games should take skill. Still, with an indefinite release date, and knowing Silicon Knights, much thought will be put forward into this.
The graphics are extremely impressive, as is just about everything that seems to come out of Unreal Engine 3 nowadays. I could bore you with talk about pixel shaders and high dynamic range lighting and fancy shadows, but that’s meaningless technobabble. The game looks great, and has two settings as far as we can tell. The first is the icy, technological real world, and the other is the lush, green land known as cyberspace. Stylistic presentation is a big deal for Silicon Knights this time around, and they use a variety of camera angles to pull the player further away, put him close to the action, to guide his movement and even give a perspective similar to Contra. The game is expected to launch possibly late this year or early next.