Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam Review
Skaters have always had a love/hate relationship with gravity and now Tony Hawkís Downhill Jam takes that relationship to a new level. The object is no longer to pull off as many tricks as possible before Mother Earth comes calling, but rather to start at the top of huge hills and let gravity take its course in the kind of racing thatís usually reserved for those who prefer snow under their boards. Tricks are still a part of the game, but here they are used to fill your boost meter for even more speed rather than to score points. The result of all of this is some crazy fast racing action down busy city streets that should be a blast but begins to feel repetitive too quickly.
The tracks in the game are set in real-world cities set among hills like San Francisco and Hong Kong. You pick a skater from a list of stereotypical characters like the goth chick with the bad attitude or the take-it-easy stoner, are taken to a ramp at the start of the course, and then race to be the first to the bottom. Along the route youíll encounter strategically placed ramps and a ton of different rails to grind. Grinding is important in this game as itís much easier to ride a rail around a tight turn than it is cut the turn on the street without splattering yourself on a wall. And it has the added bonus of keeping you out of traffic and leading you to secret shortcuts. Since there is such an emphasis on grinding in the game, the balancing act that you have to do to stay on the rail has been made easier than in typical Tony Hawk games. You wonít be able to stick to grinding throughout the races though as the gameís boost meter rewards you as much for mixing up your tricks as it does for pulling them off. Youíll find the basic assortment of tricks here that are found in other Tony Hawk games, but the trick list is nowhere near as extensive. You do get to punch or kick close competitors off of their boards, though.
Your first few times down a track wonít be easy Ė things move quickly and itís hard to look for rails and shortcuts. Once you do find the best route through a track youíll pretty much stick to it each time, though. Outside of finding the alternate paths thereís no real exploration factor in this Tony Hawk game, and youíll pick up on the majority of them by watching where your competition is going. There arenít all that many tracks in the game and although the game adds a few race variants such as slalom racing to the mix, youíll pretty quickly see all there is to see.
The gameís multiplayer support consists of two-player splitscreen racing on the courses available for the single player game. It adds a racing variant called ďsteal the headĒ in which the first place skater gets the head and at the end the winner is the one who held the head the longest. Unfortunately there is no support for online racing, which certainly would have added a lot more fun to the title as well as extended its life.
Downhill Jam is not a bad game per se, itís just that thereís not enough in here to make up for everything thatís been taken out of the normal Tony Hawk game. Itís an interesting enough concept and thereís potential for a good game in a reworked sequel, but for now itís only worth an afternoon rental by Tony Hawkís fans.
In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 66%. Itís fun at first but then things go rapidly downhill from there.