We were recently able to briefly get our hands on the ninth addition to the Tony Hawk series. With EA jumping into the skateboarding ring, the latest Tony Hawk is truly a pivot point to the future success of the franchise. Boasting new Nail-the-trick features, different skater classes, a full-fledged video editor, and bringing back a portion of the create-a-modes, Tony Hawk's Proving Ground has a huge amount of potential. Tapping into that potential whilst separating itself from the competition is where Activision's concentration needs to be focused.
As most prospective buyers have heard, THPG goes along its career mode with three different class options. These classes act much like ability sets, allowing you to advance in all three and ultimately maxing out your stats in all categories. Your initial class choice will alter the story within career mode. The first class of skaters are called riggers. These guys and gals can construct and modify things around the city to make their own custom set-up. The second are the hardcore skaters who pump up to insane speeds and skate-check people to the ground. Finally, the career skaters are those who get into the competitions, win medals, and score the magazine covers. Aside from a slight story change, most of the game seems to pan out the same.
From what we noticed with the video editor, it looks pretty versatile. The effects list is impressive and having the Guitar Hero beat mapping to judge your editing skills and essentially grading your video is a great idea too. The replays you save are actually bone animation data, which means it's purely in game, not a movie file. This means that after you've saved the trick (thirty seconds or less) than you can choose any angle, slow it down without frame drops, and splice it any you want. If you don't like any of the static or chasing angles, you can follow the replay yourself just like a camera on another skateboard. You can throw on fish eye lens, change the depth of field, and adjust their strengths. Most of soundtrack is available to your video, which can only be a max of two minutes. Hawk lacks on sharing this content though, as it is only available for others to view on your console, or on Xbox Live if you make it onto the leaderboards. There is no export or upload feature, so showing your friends that ill-sick-dope-superfly move you pulled off before scampering off to whatever it is you do, is not really possible.
Some well needed features are being added to the multiplayer side of things, the main addition being your very own skate lounge. Acting as a home base, or home skate park, you will get to build and design your very own lounge as you earn new pieces through the career mode. Another exciting feature in Proving Ground is the ability to play for cash online. Cash you earn in game can all be put down on a match, winner takes all. Cash mongers will have their own leaderboard. Walls is back as are the classic games, and jumping between your career and a game of combo-mambo couldn't be easier as there won't be any menu navigation needed.
Proving Ground will include real-time injury, changing the skater's appearance based on the inflicted damage from a bail. I'm also please to report that Create-a-Park is back. It has been confirmed to show itself in Proving Ground with a max of 400 items to lie down. Levels within the career mode will include Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington D.C. with landmarks including FDR Skatepark and the LOVE Park (ancient levels from back in THPS2). Proving Ground will also include a demo of Guitar Hero 3: Legends of Rock.
Its release couldn't come quicker, but for now you can jump on the public demo, downloadable through Xbox Live and the PlayStation network. It only has ten minutes of trial time, but you can get in a goal with each skater class and check out the new Nail-the-Moves before the time expires. A stripped version of the Video Editor is also included. Overall Proving Ground is really adding up to be another solid addition to the series, and hopefully they'll keep the same style, especially the humour, to separate themselves from Skate. If you haven't jumped ship, or decide you'd rather be part of both, the game ships later this month.