Warning, warning: crap name alert! Occupying Alan Wake's slipstream is TH's Project 8, an ill-advised adoption of a frankly dump working title. However, it does hint at a far more encouraging shift in direction, away from previous dodgy suffixes that evidenced a shameless, botched commercial attempt to become the standard game storyteller for 13-year-old, Jackass-obsessed yanks.
This time, it's less about a 'hilarious' journey with wacky goals and it's all about the game. After the hastily rushed disappointment that was American Wasteland, Neversoft have admitted their follies (presumably via some kind of management-imposed chinese burn) by building the game up from the bottom and taking full advantage of the extra power at their disposal. Now we have a proper streaming city, rebuilt physics and, most importantly, super-charged animation that will blow your socks off.
Why animation? It signals a refocus on Neversoft's part to rein in some of the stupid tricks using the extra grunt to make your actions feel a lot more real. Don't worry, the moves you bust will still be beyond the basic capability of any humanoid but the point is that it claws back the much-needed believability that was increasingly being eroded in the series and reconnects your actions to your skaters. The new animations will also give you better feedback about your skater, so when you're pulling a manual between tricks you won't be glued to the balance bar, but you'll be able to tell how much time you've got before you stack it from the way your skater is balancing.
While there will still be a story mode, there's an all-new focus on the goals and freeform classic play that made Hawk
synonymous with great gaming. Stupid extra vehicles, sub-toilet humour and ridiculous bucking broncos seem to have been jettisoned in favour of a more straight-up, free-roaming 'boarding game. Project 8 promises to be the return to form former fans of the series have been crying out for.
For the first time in ages we're actually quite optimistic about a Hawk number. Whereas before, we got excited, only to be kicked in the bollocks with stupid goals, brainless bimbos and crappy non-skateboard vehicles, this time there seems to be a steely determination from Neversoft to get it right. We'll see.