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Previews

Tony Hawk's Project 8

It's time to get busy with the man who made grinding famous - no not him, Tony Hawk!

You can read the lettering on the wheels! It's just one detail in a long list of things that impresses us about the eighth Tony Hawk's game. The first truly next-gen sequel doesn't have a proper name just yet, but it does have phenomenal graphics and more realistic board physics than ever before.

It's a massive, massive improvement over the look of last year's Tony Hawk's American Wasteland. New focus effects blur the background to heighten the realistic look. Light gleams off surfaces, giving the characters and scenery a high-contrast, glowing edge. Throw in some beautifully detailed textures and you have a dramatically improved visual experience. It's Tony Hawk's on an atomic level.

The skaters move much better, this time out. Tricks join together more fluidly thanks to a heap of extra animation. You can now see the boarders crouching, bending and leaning realistically through each move.

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There will be loads of gameplay improvements, too. The biggest new play innovation is the Momentum system. Now, when you're skating down slopes and ramps, you'll feel your skater gradually and naturally speed up as he flies downwards. This adds an extra layer of skill to the play. You'll have to fight that little bit harder to retain control of your board.

Most promising of all, though, is that Neversoft seems to have taken a few cues from the Amped series. One of these features is that you'll have to impress the locals in each area to gain their respect. This means that being skilful and artistic is sometimes more important than just racking up the big combos.

Likewise, in Project 8's new photography mode you have to perform tricks with great spatial awareness, always making sure you're dead centre in the film crew's lens. To make it even harder, some of the camera crews are 'on the move', meaning you'll have to follow their instructions and keep up with them. It's hard to believe that after seven games there's still new stuff to do, but it looks like the Tony Hawk's series is still on a roll.

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