Gaming franchises come and go, however, not many can say they’ve launched a whole genre from the dirt into a successful campaign. Neversoft did that in 1999 with Tony Hawk Pro-Skater. Since then sequels have been made that changed the gaming skating scene. 2007’s Tony Hawk Proving Ground shuffles around split game progression and structure of an open world setting. With the same solid skating formula from previous games, it felt like the effort the put in by other competitors was so little that their games become frustrating due to the high standards set.
Needless to say, Neversoft became the pacesetters in the genre.The standards set by the earlier versions of the game were almost matchless. Additionally, its progression over the years has featured incredible derivations. After several ups and downs, mainly because their previous titles such as Tony Hawk Pro-skater was encompassing and groundbreaking. So much so that adding the much needed new element to the blueprint became almost impossible. Annual updates have featured additional elements until the ninth title to the series, Tony Hawk Proving Ground.The game had some major tweaks but regardless it was still lacking. Don’t get me wrong, some features such as the compartmentalization of the story; career, hardcore and “rigger” path, are certainly welcome, however, the game is becoming primeval. With EA’s Skate now on the map, Proving Ground faced its direct competition. Now more than ever, the lack of improvements to the earlier designs are apparent.
Nevertheless, Neversoft’s signature series has had its moments. There are some bits that make Proving Ground worth your time. For instances, the gameplay is broken down into three distinct “modes,” career mode where pro skaters team up with you and shoot skating video with you. Hardcore mode where Dustin Dollin and Mike Vallely tech you how to properly knock down pedestrians and lastly, there is the “rigger” mode where Daewon Song and Jeff King show you the puzzle part of the game where you come up with new tricks and uncover new pieces in the environment. Additionally, the gameplay features nondenominational chalk challenge goals that ask you to wall ride, grind and move from one mark to the next. Each challenge has a different difficulty level, ranging from immature to sick.
From these modes, they are further divided into episodes which aim at giving the skater a variety of goals. Bob Burnquist’s goals include learning new tricks before taking on a competition. Barn Margera’s objective is one of climbing around rather than skating. Although you have to skate a bit to distract him from his TV show. Lance Mountain teaches you to slash grind and carve bowl, two of the exclusive game’s additions. Tying it all up is a meter bar which, once full, advances your career to the next stage.
The goals earn you a shoe sponsor, your own video, signature board and other XP rewards. As you progress through your career you form a team which ultimately unlocks more rewards. Obviously, there’s more to do and see once the grand finale is over, from the high score to classical mode, the quality of the challenges are spot on.The new features and tricks are impressive, for instance, the ability to push around the objects or performing a manual after pushing yourself against the wall. Some felt a little forced, like the carved bowl, intended to help you skate along the rail or on carved ramps. While grinding you require some balance, there is none of it here.
All you do is press a button and away you carve and slice.An additional feature that draws us all in is that there aren’t any underlying story lines. You can complete bits of the story whenever you want. You no longer have to repeatedly struggle to pass one point to complete the story.
The audio is up to standard, although the skateboard and open world sound are commendable they seem recycled. Most of the voicing is done by pro skaters who detract from the connecting with the game. Generally, the voice overs are excellent, however, Mike Valley stands out by delivering a believable firm and tough character. One of the biggest challenges that came with Proving Ground was that some goals and tasks had been previously featured in earlier titles.
If you are a fan of the series, you will probably find it half-satisfying. It has the right amount of game play to keep you busy but you’ll be disappointed at some point by this entry.