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Tony Hawk's Proving Ground Preview

publisher: Activision
developer: Neversoft
genre: Sports

ESRB rating: T

release date: Oct 15, 07
» All About Tony Hawk's Proving Ground on ActionTrip

Upon our return from the Games Convention in Leipzig, we began to make notes of a few more games we witnessed at the show. For instance, Activision's booth at the Games Convention had quite a variety of titles on display, but it wasn't until the very last day of the show that we managed to get a quick look at Neversoft's upcoming title, Tony Hawk's Proving Ground.

As I sat down to watch the presentation of the game, I was told a little bit about where this new addition in the popular skating series is going. In short, the developers appear to be pouring out every possible idea in the skating realm, to satisfy the need of hardcore fans. At the same time, THPG seems to have enough to entangle more average gamers, who are less acquainted with the ways of skating.

As the game kicked off, I was given a sample of the three diverse paths players will be allowed to take in Proving Ground. These are as follows: career-skater, rigger and hardcore skater. Walking (or rather, skating) down the career path will open the doors to skater fame. Your goal is to become a professional skater and live like a real celebrity, which means you are offered endorsement deals and you get to be on magazine covers and so on.

Being a rigger, on the other hand, is all about creating and customizing your very own ideal skatepark. Each path involves different elements. For example, riggers can add kickers, rails and other cool components to areas, whereas career-skaters get Nail the Grab, Nail the Trick and Nail the Manual (more on that later). With the right mod tools, customizing the track shouldn't be much of a problem and you can set up skating areas any way you want. Also, in earlier Tony Hawk games, customizing tools sort of restricted you to certain parts of the level, whereas in Proving Ground you are now allowed to lay down any skating element anywhere you want in the game world.

Finally, playing as the hardcore skater, means you are playing just for the love of the sport; you know, roaming around freely, perfecting your skills and so on.

The best thing about this game is that it never restricts the player to go down one particular path. At any time, you can switch to any path you want and you can play each one of them as long as you like, before becoming the ultimate skater. As far as specific goals are concerned, Activision mentioned there will be more than 500 goals in the game (and around 80 cut-scenes as well). We were told about a mission, where players have to clear out a group of thugs, thus enabling other skaters to roam freely through that particular area. Achieving such goals, your character gains respect and improves his avatar to boot.

THPG features three huge cities, all of which are replicas of real-life locations. You'll be able to skate through Baltimore, Philadelphia (featuring the famous FDR Skatepark) and Washington D.C. Every path in the game has a story too. Players can go through several story-specific challenges, in order to earn a variety of rewards to upgrade their characters. However, each type of skater gets a unique type of reward. Hardcore skaters are given new abilities (like skate-checking), while riggers get new items and elements to add to their skatepark (jumps, rails and so on). Mind you, not all tasks are story-related. Random missions appear throughout the areas with plenty of challenges that give you an opportunity to try out your skating abilities - jumping, rail grinding, trick combos, etc.

Now, gamers are bound to enjoy the newly fitted gameplay feature, Nail the Trick (I know I did). The slow-mo skate mode, which you can pull off via the intuitive dual-analogue-stick system, has also been improved in Proving Ground, with the aforementioned Nail the Grab and Nail the Manual. The point is to allow gamers to fine-tune their movement while their character is in the air, to nail the perfect skating maneuver. This works perfectly and it seems very easy to execute. Plus, it looks awesome once you get the hang of it.

The creators of Proving Ground appear to be particularly proud of the new video editor. Well, they should be. From what we've seen, this is going to be one of the game's main attractions. At any time during the game, players are able to record their maneuvers and watch replays later on, choosing from a variety of camera angles. The real fun part comes when you use the video editor to alter the footage any way you see fit. The features here are practically infinite. You can incorporate different filters, colors and effects to make your ideal clip. There's also a number of licensed music tracks in the game, which may also be added to your skating movie to make a really cool music video. Nice! In addition, when you're done, it will be possible to upload the footage on Live, so that other people can see your masterpiece. Of course, how many people will actually see it depends on how high your character is ranked. So, once again, it's all down to your skating skills.

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