Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground Review

The Tony Hawk franchise has been around since 1999, and with Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground, it’s reaching its ninth installment. With Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 however, the game reached a near perfect pinnacle. The following rehashes have added small bits of improvement, but nothing to sing praises about. So what’s developer Neversoft doing to keep things fresh this time around — especially to compete with EA’s skate?

First off, they added new features like Nail a Grab mode, which lets you customize your grabs on the fly; a Bowl Carving technique, which gives you the option of either slicing the lip of a ramp or grinding it at the touch of a button; and my favorite, the ability to check people. There’s nothing like giving another skater a meaningful shove to the floor. Any time you can check someone without playing hockey is good in my book. That being said, the new features aren’t introduced until late in the game, so you’ll be playing the same ol’ Tony Hawk until lthen.

I found two of the potentially coolest new features to be almost completely worthless: The Skate Lounge, and the video editor. Both are good ideas for innovation, but are just not well executed compared to other recent titles.

The Skate Lounge offers no reason to spend time in it. It offers high customization possibilities, but it’s just a glorified Create-a-Park. The only time I found myself using it was when the missions required me to be in it. The possibilities were there to make it a worthwhile addition, but in the end, it was just the stereotyped “looks decent but is worthless” feature long-running series are known for.

In terms of the video editor, it is probably the most advanced compared to other games from a technical standpoint. It comes with the ability to use transitions, effects, and combine a bunch of different clips into a single film. The problem is, unlike other games, it requires you to start recording ahead of time. Makes sense. If you’re going to make a skate video, you probably have to plan it out. Problem is, you lose the ability to capture and share those random cool moments when you weren’t planning on it. Accidentally tea bagged a pedestrian on your way to a mission? Too bad, because you didn’t plan it.

But even if you wanted to plan that, all pedestrians and vehicles are removed during recording so you’ll never be able to see that in your videos. As anyone can testify, the best Halo 3 and skate videos are the ones where the completely unexpected happens. Anyone can plan out an awesome trick or move, but the truly weird and funny situations no one sees on a regular basis are what we want to see, not scripted actions.

In terms of graphics, everything looks good, but it fails to impress. There’s nothing glamorous about it. Character models, city elements, weather effects — they all get the job done…and that’s about it. The models are decent enough, but once again, it has to compare to skate, and it just can’t.

The skate and environment sounds also get by, giving it an average appeal. The soundtrack has strayed a bit from the usual harder sound, but I still like it. The voice acting is horrible, however. It would almost be better if they just had dialogue boxes that I could read like the old-school RPGs. Ok, that’s a little extreme, but lets direct these voice actors better, people! It’s like getting punched in the ear by pre-prison Tyson.

Bottom line? From the foundation laid by eight games before it, Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground has solid gameplay. Then again, it would have solid game play even if they did nothing else but update the graphics. Compared to EA’s skate, it just doesn’t stack up. If you’re a longtime Hawker, check it out for a few nifty new features you’ll enjoy. Otherwise, Tony’s reign as King of the Genre has finally come to an end. Mediocre used to be enough for a skating game — not anymore.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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