Tony Hawk's Proving Ground
Older, trickier, more feature-packed and a bit intimidating
Oct 17, 2007
Proving Ground is an almost obscenely plump package. In a bid to outdo itself and fresh-faced rival Skate, Neversoft has jammed its latest game with so much content that you expect to hear distant groaning when holding the disc up to your ear. The first thing we noted, though, was what seemed like an oversight - there's no "free play" option, no chance to dive straight into the three-city-wide game world to just mess around. No, you'll have play the full-blown Career mode before you can unlock Proving Ground's new abilities. But, that's OK.
Career mode is chopped up into three strands that you can dart between when you like - glory-seeking "Career" skating, limit-pushing "Hardcore" skating and level-editing, clambering "Rigger" skating. Each strand is cut up into episodes, played out with a pro skater and a story in tow, offering new skills on the way. This drip feed is initially frustrating, but near essential for easing yourself into the new features especially since the tricks picked up in one episode can then be reapplied to previously completed episodes in order to get higher grades. The "Am, Pro, Sick" system returns from Project 8, where you need only complete "Am" to progress, too.
So, drip by drip, you shake hands with techniques both old and new. The Aggro Push is brilliant, and also lets you use walls and vehicles for extra speed during manuals. Bowl carving and slash grinds aren't the most graceful of additions, but they make up for it with offerings of big points. Body checking - barging into folks with - is daft, but fun nonetheless. The level editor is always on hand, and straightforward to use. The new "Nail" modes expand greatly on the strengths of Project 8. The Hawkman mini-game is lovely. The photo editor is plenty intuitive, although taking pics - done from the camera's perspective - while maintaining your balance can sometimes be awkward.