Monday, February 13, 2017

Review #372: Tony Hawk's - Proving Ground

 Grey Hawk's Grey Ground.
 This is it, rather, this was it. The last traditional Tony Hawk game ever made before they decided to reboot the franchise with Pro Skater 5. Proving Ground is... more of the same, building upon some of the worst aspects of Project 8 while adding even more mechanics on top of the already plentiful amount that the series has amassed over the years. It's... it's understandable why it underperformed and Activision saw fit to reboot the franchise.

 There're only two main modes: Story and Multiplayer. The multiplayer offering has the usual suspects, so it's not worth delving into that, as it's same old, same old. Single Player is where it's at, however, as it's been the norm since Underground, the story follows your created skater, male only since it seems female characters became too expensive! You are thrust upon a very grey, dull looking open-world-ish city as you skate around looking for missions, which come in four varieties: Career and Hardcore, which are more or less your traditional Tony Hawk objectives, like amassing points or performing certain tricks over certain spots, Rigger, which involve altering the environment and Street, which are the same challenges from Project 8, that have you finding markers on the streets and walls and trying to figure out how to do them. There're also Arcade Machines with let you play the 2-minute, goal-based format from the first games in the franchise.
 There're certainly a whole bunch of stuff to do, but most if it isn't particularly fun. The difficulty follows the same scheme as Project 8, in which you can organically choose the difficulty for each objective by performing different things during the same mission, which is brilliant. Regardless, these missions feel very mundane in nature, with most of the punk-humor from previous games pretty much gone, aiming for realistic objectives, like taking pictures of your tricks. It doesn't help how grey and boring the entire world looks, every 'skate park' lacks personality, soul and color! It's not a fun place to skate around, even Project 8 had more distinctive looking environments.

 The game has also received a whole slew of tiny tweaks. Skaters no longer lean when you hold the X button, which is jarring to say the least, and some controls have been changed in order to make room for the new mechanics, so long time players like myself may find themselves a bit annoyed at first, and, honestly, I don't think the new features were worth changing the controls. The first new addition is the Aggro Kick, done by pressing the R1 button rhythmically in order to build up speed, the game does a poor job at telling you how to perform it correctly, but eventually it becomes rather fun to pull off. L2 is used to hit NPCs, which is rather satisfying as well. 'Nail the Trick' has been expanded into Nail the Grab and Nail the Manual and... I didn't really care about them, but hey, new, easy ways to score points! Lastly, now you can slash-grind pools and carve them as well... and I couldn't care less about these two. Basically, nothing game-changing.
 The video-editing tools have been revamped and expanded upon, if you are into that, for whatever reason, and the create-a-park is back, but relegated to a single area, the Skate Lounge. That said, now you can add ramps and rails at your whim over the entire overworld, however, there's a limit to how many items you can add to the game's world, so you might have to remember where you put what so that you can remove it later down the line if you want to do more modifications. Be wary too, as the game tends to slow down when there's a lot going on at the same time.

 Proving Ground is... not as disappoint as it could've, since it's a follow-up to the already disappointing Project 8. Objectives are dull, the game's world is bland but at least the gameplay is top-notch, thanks to years of building upon what worked, although your mileage may vary on the new additions and tweaked controls. I think Project 8 was slightly more fun since it had a bit more personality, but either way you're better off playing the older games.
 6.0 out of 10

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