Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam

Is it a trick game or a racing game? Turns out Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam on DS is a little of both. Like its elder Wii sibling, THDJ mixes up the traditional skateboarding gameplay with a high-speed race-and-chase element. You'll still bust gnarly grinds and sick tricks, but you'll have to do it while careening down sharply curving racecourses and trying to beat seven other skaters to the bottom.

The creative team wants to build on what went right with last year's Tony Hawk's American Sk8land, so expect a similar, cartoony look but with levels roughly three times larger than the previous game. Embark on a world tour and you'll explore San Francisco, Hong Kong, Rio, Edinburgh, Kilamanjaro and the Hoover Dam. In each locale you'll have nine goals to achieve plus a Medal Challenge from a pro skater. The Medal Challenge will be brutal, stringing together a whole mess of tiny runs into one massive race course. At least you can try it on two different skill levels.

If you don't wanna cruise the world, try a Jam Session, which should feel a bit like Classic Mode from the other Tony Hawk games. You're faced with 10 objectives and you've got to try to nail as many as possible. This time, a ghost replay will let you effectively skate against yourself - a new trick for Tony on the DS.

Like its Sk8land predecessor, Downhill Jam will support online Wi-Fi play, but this year it adds the nifty trick of voice chat. Players of Metroid Prime Hunters know this can be good or bad, depending on how shy or busy the person on the other end turns out to be. But if you’re playing with faraway pals, we don't see a downside.

Activision's not talking specific release dates, so whenever "fall" arrives exactly, you can try it yourself. We hope to get hands-on as the "fall" gets closer.

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