Game Review – Tony Hawk’s Downhill Jam by jimmycanuck
November 21, 2006, 1:34 pm
Filed under: gaming, reviews

downhill jam

This game is downright fugly. From graphics to gameplay nothing seems to fit, and nothing works as advertised. My hopes for a brilliant new Hawk game have been squashed.

I was really excited for Downhill Jam. Having been fed up with the series since it went mission-based in Pro Skater 4, it was nice to see that Activision was finally willing to take some risks taking some risks with its biggest franchise. Like most gambles though. this one didn’t pay off.

The graphics are easily the weakest of the Wii launch titles I’ve experienced. Maybe it’s because I’m forced to play it with composite cables until Nintendo gets components in my hands (way to read your market, Nintendo), but this thing somehow manages to look WORSE than the original Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater on the PSOne. No matter how hard you might want to try, you can’t make the argument that all Wii games are going to look like crap. Even if they look Gamecube quality at best (and so far, at least with the composite cables, I’m finding that to be true) Downhill Jam’s graphical prowess is well below that of last generations pretty purple box.

Still, any gamer worth his weight in salt knows that graphics mean very little when compared to gameplay. If that wasn’t the case XBox Live Arcade and Nintendo’s own Virtual Console wouldn’t serve much of a purpose, now would they? Unfortunately, gameplay is where Downhill Jam’s failure is most visible. The most basic gameplay mechanic is also this title’s greatest failure – turning with the wiimote. To play Downhill Jam, you hold the wiimote sideways, much as you would if you were playing an NES game on the VC. The innovative twist in this game is supposed to be that turning is controlled by tilting the wiimote left or right. Not only is the sensitivity needed to recognize differences between wide and tight turns pretty much non-existent, but to perform a trick, you need to hold down a key on the d-pad. Do any series veterans know where I’m going with this yet? In other Tony Hawk games, both the direction your skater moves and the tricks you perform are controlled by the analog stick. That means the transition from landing a trick to controlling your skater’s movement is smooth as silk. Now Activision wants us to go from pulling off a trick on the D-Pad to turning with the wiimote in one fell swoop. It’s awkward, and it just doesn’t work. Had they made it so both the tricks and turning were controlled by tilting, this title might have been salvageable, but as it stands this is easily the worst title in the Tony Hawk series. And that’s coming from a guy who’s played American Wasteland on the 360.

If you’re looking for a fun and innovative Wii-launch title, a great new addition to the Tony Hawk franchise, or both – this isn’t where you need to be right now. Enjoy the barrage of great launch titles for the Wii that don’t have the word’s Tony Hawk stamped on them, or just pick up Project 8 on the 360. No matter what you do, just stay the hell away from this title.


1 Comment so far
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See, now that’s taking a hit for the late adopters. Thanks for biting that bullet dude.

Comment by MC

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