Tony Hawk's Proving Ground Review

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Graphics: 7.0
Sound : 8.0
Gameplay : 8.0
Multiplayer : 8.0
Overall : 8.0
Review by Kerim Senkal
Nothing satisfies quite like sticking a perfect inverted 540 heelkick-melon to front-side manual. If you have know idea what I just said, fear not. In Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground, the latest in the famous line of skateboarding games, it isn’t important how much skate knowledge you have, or even if you have any at all. Frankly, I have none to speak of, but I still found myself glued to this game for hours on end, at times unconcerned with the challenges set forth in the progress of the game. Back and forth, up and down, spin after dynamic spin, attempting new grabs, kick flips and impossible moves and jumps kept me content for quite a while. Then, immersing myself into the challenges presented in the “Proving Ground�, proved to me this is a game well worth the time for skaters and non-skaters alike.

The first thing that stood out to me was the incredible vastness offered in the game. From editing the look of your skater right down to some really cool full sleeve tatts, to picking and choosing from a huge variety of music to be played throughout the game. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. The options of how you play the game are quite numerous as well. You are able to decide whether you want to follow the path to join the elite, in the Pro story, or keep it real and skate just for the personal satisfaction in Hardcore. You can also make a name for yourself in the skating world as a Rigger, searching the enormous, multi-city environment for killer spots to set up crazy stunts. Or, you can do all three, jumping in and out of either storyline as you choose.

Skating around the different cities with all the sites and sounds of a true hustling bustling metropolis, you encounter seemingly millions of obstacles for you to trick off of, all the while earning cash and points to put towards things like new threads or merchandise for your Skate Lounge and to boost your skills . There are also innocent bystanders for you to annoy by skating into or near them and knocking them over, most of the time they respond with some unkind words or stop and cheer for a stunt you just pulled off and then continue about their business. Then there are some people you meet up with who direct you along in the story. They have a colored haze around them, representing one of the storylines you can choose from. Each story is hosted by a real-life pro. When a challenge is presented to you another pro-skater, who is well known for excelling at the maneuver needed in the forthcoming challenge, cameos to show you what you need to know. Highlight videos of the cameo-skater are followed by an interactive tutorial with demonstrations by the pro. Some of the tutorials and demos were pretty fast moving, but they are all available for replay at any time in the pause menu, in addition to lists of tricks, grabs, moves, etc. which was very helpful. The graphic representations of the real-life skaters were stunning, some of the best and most realistic I’ve seen, especially of “the man� Tony Hawk. Each challenge presented has three levels of success attainable, Am (amateur), Pro, and Sick. Am is pretty easy to reach for most goals, so easy that it really leaves you unsatisfied to settle for anything less than Pro, which makes the already expansive game that much more challenging, and the sweet taste of victory that much sweeter when you reach those higher levels. Reaching the Sick level was quite difficult and sometimes called for certain maneuvers to be performed that were a little unclear. The game booklet had more explanations of how to do tricks but still didn’t clarify what was needed to reach Sick level on some goals. The controls were very fluid and intuitive. It was really easy to get the feel for controlling your skater and learning tricks and moves was very natural.

Some awesome features were the “focus� features. While skating, double clicking the left thumbstick will put you in focus mode where, in slow motion, you can pull off tricks easier. Nail the trick is basically the same for doing kick flips while in the air and Nail the Grab and Nail the Manual should now be self explanatory.

One other really cool feature was the video editor which had a lot of options. You have a bunch of tool s at your disposal to cut and piece together some awesome highlight reels of yourself. While it is a lot of fun to mess around with, one drawback was the fact that you have to manually start the video recording meaning you may miss something unexpected that you really aren’t able to reproduce, like launching off a ramp to find yourself grinding a powerline and landing on the roof of a building, dropping off and pulling a 900. It could be done again but it would take a lot of trying. It would be better if there where a constant minute or so of replay available for you to go back and clip stuff out of. Another thing that was a bit confusing was getting from one goal or spot to another goal or spot. While there is an interactive map its annoying having to have to back and check your position on the map, move a little further and then have to check the map again. There is an arrow onscreen that shows you the direction of you target, but that doesn’t really help too much when there are buildings, bridges, tunnels and oceans in between. It would be more helpful if it performed like a GPS device, telling you HOW to go, not what direction to go.

There are several different ways to play against others, some of which are only available online. You can play for highest score or first to a target score. Biggest combo score in a time limit or first set a target score for a comb. The Graffiti game consists of tricking off obstacles around the city which marks them your color. Beating the score your opponent set for an object changes the object to your color. Walls is a game where you perform combos that leave a wall behind you. The object is to box your opponent in to eliminate them.

Other than a few little issues this game has a ton of things going for it. From the freedom, the tight control, the music, options, impressive cast of pro skaters with some exciting videos, ramps, pipes, and rails, at every turn. This is a game that I look forward to trying to complete. I’m sure it will take a long time, and I’m cool with that.