- Title: Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground
- Platform:Xbox 360
- Publisher: Activision
- Developer: Neversoft
- ESRB Rating: “T” for Teen
- Genre: Skateboarding
- Pros: Core gameplay is still fun; the new balance meter is great
- Cons: Level designs aren’t great; new modes and additions seem to just get in the way; presentation fails to impress
Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground starts out similarly to the last few games where you are a nobody and want to work your way up through the ranks and earn respect from your fellow skaters. Proving Ground switches it up because it gives you three distinct paths to explore. The career path is all about hanging with pro skaters and shooting skate videos. The hardcore path is all about rough and tough and causing havoc. And the rigger path has you placing new objects into levels via a simple level editor to create new trick lines. Each path is made up of several episodes where you take on goals for a pro in order to advance through the campaign and unlock new stuff. These new paths and ideas are somewhat cool, but the whole experience is dragged down by the fact that you start out with basically no skills and have to learn everything before you can use it even if it is stuff you (the gamer in real life, not your lame avatar) already know how to do.
Online multiplayer is also present, of course, and is just as fun as ever. There is something much more fun and satisfying about playing against real players rather than trying to complete some of the goofy and downright stupid goals the game throws at you in single-player.
You know what? I’m tired of being a no name rookie and starting from the bottom and working my way up. I miss the glory days of being a Pro Skater where each skater had a different style and set of tricks. I miss those days of simple goals. If miss those days of smaller, but far better designed levels. To fix the Tony Hawk’s franchise and rejuvenate the fanbase, I would make Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5. Forget about huge open world levels. Forget about THUG2, Bam Margera, Jackass, and that whole moronic attitude that has plagued the last few games and go back to just skating. Give us small, well designed levels, a two minute timer, classic goals, simple yet addictive high score gameplay, and a roster of pro skaters to choose from, and I guarantee that the Tony Hawk’s franchise would be respected again rather than quick bargain bin fodder that it has become.
Graphically, Proving Ground looks pretty much like Project 8, but with maybe a step back in overall quality. Project 8 had a smooth and colorful overall look, but Proving Ground is kind of dark and dingy and it just isn’t as attractive overall even if it might be packing more detail. The animation is great, but the human character models still have those freaky looking faces.
The sound is on par with all of the other Tony Hawk games. The soundtrack is fairly decent and the skateboarding sounds are fine. And, predictably, all of the voice acting from the pro skaters sounds flat and extremely disinterested. Par for the course here.