Playing Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam for Wii, it's hard to fight the feeling that it's the total opposite of the Tony Hawk you know and love. It's a race game at heart; using the Wii remote couldn't be more different than the typical Tony control we're used to; and it only has one real skater. Maybe that's why it came off as so refreshing at Activision's next-gen hands-on event in Santa Monica, CA.
This is one of those games that you'll be playing with a bunch of buddies (provided someone foots the bill for additional controllers). It supports four-player simultaneous gaming via split-screen, which is something other next-gen titles seem to have given up on. Thank God for Nintendo consoles. Heck, it's even good for playing with three people you aren't very fond of (just kidding, fellow journos!).
Downhill Jam features a slew of match types other than the standard race, but they all pretty much revolve around getting to the finish line first. Slalom features transparent hoops, and skating through them adds time to your short countdown. You can only ignore them so long before you find yourself out of time. Trick races use the game's sparse-for-Tony Hawk trick moves to add time to your meter. Finally, Steal the Head literally decapitates everyone but the leader. The winner is the skater who spent the most time during the race with his head attached.
Each mode was fun enough that picking the crowd favorite is nigh impossible. It's worth noting that Downhill Jam's single-player portion features all the race types, just against computer-controlled opponents.