In an attempt to use the Wii Remote's motion-sensing capabilities, it was decided that Tony Hawk's Wii debut would not be the usual free-roaming, task-completing affair that the other Hawk's games have been. Understandably, this left many series addicts a bit concerned that the franchise will lose what made it so popular in the first place.
Thankfully, they needn't have worried. While Downhill Jam is certainly a different sort of game from the likes of Underground and American Wasteland, it still has the classic Hawk's feel despite the new controls.
Other than the obvious downhill element, the big change is the removal of manuals that let you link tricks together to gain a bigger score. However, taking them out has been a good idea, since manuals only slow down your character and in a game where speed is the priority they're a bit needless.
The Career mode is split into a number of tiers, each of which consists of a series of races you'll have to complete before proceeding. These races aren't all straight downhill 'finish first' affairs as there are some variations to liven things up a bit.
Downhill All The Way?
These include slalom races, trick attacks
that require you to reach a certain score, grind challenges and even the occasional race where you have to punch as many pedestrians as possible.
In terms of controls, we had no problems. There's a short tutorial that helps you get to grips with things, and though it only takes a couple of minutes (it's hardly a flight simulator in terms of complexity) it's more than enough to help you do well in your first race. Detours are also handily marked with red arrows so it's not too hard to find one of the many shortcuts dotted about each level.
Pretend this isn't a Hawk's game and you'll end up having more fun playing it, since it's so different from the other games in the series that you'll be constantly making unfair comparisons. Taken as a unique game, it's an action-packed racer with extremely inventive and complex levels. As a Tony Hawk's game though, some people might be disappointed that it's strayed so far from the tried-and-tested free-roaming formula.