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Saturday, February 2, 2008

Tony Hawk's Proving Ground

Before I get a "yet it's another Tony Hawk" game kind of comment (I know what you're thinking. I'm psychic), I'd like to say in advance that recently Tony Hawk games have been getting better.

If I were to make an analogy of what Proving Ground is like, I'd say it would be like Rock Band. Proving Ground gives and takes to make a sequel to Project 8 more or less the same. It added focus on the styles of skateboarders than just doing the same old competition and you (the player) are able to work more on what you like in skateboarding. They've separated the skateboarders into three classes: Hardcore, Career and Rigger. Each class has a handful of moves that overall improve your skateboarding. While you dabble in all three classes, you can put focus on a specific class and progress the storyline. I don't know about the other versions but the PS2 version feels a little barebone (if that makes any sense). There's no opening movie which let me down a good deal at the start (I always get psyched to see what they do) and there aren't any skater videos.

They've taken out a lot more than that. The gameplay itself feels a bit more like the older versions prior to Project 8. A lot of the moves that you could do for tight corners and general skating have been removed and I kinda feel like I'm playing a mod for THPS 4 or something. Pressing square on the ground doesn't do manuals any more and the timer that was used for linking vert tricks in Project 8 have been removed. The menus are very simple. The title has Story, 2 Player and Options....There's also a lack of free skate which I often enjoyed because it was really funny skating around as the nerd.

What's been added is a lot as well. Now there's nail the grab, which at first feels blocky but works well once you're used to it. Linking and comboing have gotten easier as there is a delay now after the score before it's counted. This allows you to ollie almost immediately as you land and hook up another trick. Stats have gotten much better. They're now based on how often you do a certain trick, and so you can actually develop your skater to be vert, street or all around. A rigger menu has been added so instead of those Create-A-Parks that I never used, you can simply add on to the existing area. Though, I often noticed that modifying the area also makes getting "sick" on the challenges much MUCH easier. They also removed a lot of those wacky goals that was in Project 8. In all, I think they tried to make Proving Ground a "serious" skateboarding game. It looks nice and handles nice, but I feel that they don't really understand what made Project 8 so good.

So, honestly, how does Proving Ground compare to Project 8? I'd say they're about the same, or rather, they're actually two different games in terms of everything. Project 8 feels like a nice fusion of good skateboarding mixed with nice game play, and Proving Ground feels like a more technical skateboarding game, that tries to be serious.

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