Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground Xbox 360 Review

May 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews & Features, Xbox 360, Xbox

The Tony Hawk’s series has gone for so long without any solid competition, although this past October saw the release of EA’s well received Skate, and when games are published by the world beating EA it normally means you’ve got some real competition to contend with. Proving Ground comes after the release of EA’s upstart game, although does coming second mean finishing last?

EA certainly found a niche in the market with their very own Skate and opted to make the game more realistic when compared to Activision’s major skateboarding franchise. Whilst Activision’s and Neversoft’s response won’t really be clear until the next game in the decade old series, they certainly know who their loyal fan base are, thus Proving Ground doesn’t mess with anything major. Tony Hawk’s is a series that doesn’t have to prove (yes that was a pathetic excuse for a pun) anything after all.

So, everything is in order as any fan would expect and the game is even kind to fresh players of the series who aren’t used to hitting tricks and using manuals, let alone performing breathless combos that run into the millions. It’s largely cut and paste, and depending on whom you may be this is a good thing or a bad thing.

The menu screen isn’t exactly what you would call busy with options, although the story mode is a traditionally meaty mode which sees your skateboarding nobody attempt to become a somebody. As usual after you create your rookie skateboarder you’ll be soon mixing with the pros of the sport, completing tasks through three cities (Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington DC) and aiming to climb straight to the top of the big ladder of skateboarding success.

The story mode is open ended in the sense that you can follow the route of certain skating disciplines. Paths include career (magazine covers and money await you!), hardcore (you love skateboarding and will do absolutely anything to prove it), rigger (you can place your own trick objects using a simple but worthy tool) and the less prominent street style (challenges littered round the environment will do you proud), and following the lead of each different episode will determine what kind of skateboarder you become. You’ll even unlock skills based on your choices, such as the new Agro Kick (hardcore) or the Nail the Trick moves (career) and can switch to another style at anytime if you just fancy a change, are finding the current task too difficult or would just prefer a more rounded skateboarder. Having the choice to become what you want is certainly a very welcome feature and this certainly assures that Proving Ground’s story mode is the best one yet in the long running series.

As for the skateboarding itself, Nail the Grab, Nail the Manual and the Agro Kick spice things up considerably, whilst giving veteran players something new to play around with. The Nail the Grab and Nail the Manual are obviously extensions of the extremely well received Nail the Trick, which debuted in last years Tony Hawk’s Project 8. Grabs and manuals work as well as you would expect using the Nail the Trick template, and in particular, the grabs are a sight to behold in glorious and flashy slow motion. Moving on, the Agro Kick gives you a speed boost, and finding the correct rhythm of ground and foot will allow you to get around quicker as well as to take nasty thugs out.

Proving Ground also introduces a video editing tool, a first for the series. Whenever you feel like you have a good 30 second skateboarding run in you, nipping to the menu and beginning the recording is all that is expected of you. When you are satisfied with your video you can then edit it to your hearts content, adding visual flair, altering the camera angles and even combining clips. Obviously you can also view videos recorded by others over Xbox Live, although doing this made me feel small such is the superhuman skills of those who have obviously been playing for a very long time.

Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground is another great sequel in the franchise, and loyalists should be satisfied with the new additions. There‘s certainly room for both Hawk and Skate, as even if they share the source material of skateboarding, both have cornered different areas of the market. However, this doesn’t change the fact that some may feel that the Tony Hawk’s series is now running out of steam, and if you are one of these people, I can only recommend you to let your curiosity inhale the breath of fresh air that is EA’s Skate.