We Spaniards are made like this: while infinitely loving traditions, we often let ourselves be hypnotized by the fashions of the moment. In recent years, many overseas products have captured the attention of a more or less wide audience: just think of reality shows, Wrestling or the most recent World Poker Tour. Try to question a child: it is easier for him to be in able to show full and royal flushes that do not answer the most obvious of cultural questions.
In the same way, eight years ago, Neversoft developed a game that would soon have half the world passionate about a sport, skateboarding, hitherto totally ignored outside the States.
Our memory is short, but it is likely that the previews of the time relegated the Activision game to a poor paragraph at the bottom of the page. We are the home of football, how could we be interested in deranged people who risk their own safety just to go down a staircase?
Well, the first chapter, dated 1999, achieved an incredible success in terms of sales and criticism, and became the progenitor of a genre, that of extreme sports, today tremendously abused. And if until a month ago the Tony Hawk series represented the non plus ultra of the category, today this leadership is undoubtedly made by EA's latest effort, that Skate which, thanks to a strong propensity for realism, is establishing itself as new yardstick.
Activision has obviously not been watching, and has tried to win back the scepter with this new chapter.
And you, what skateboarder are you?
The new password, at Activision, is personalization. After having carefully created your alter ego, configurable thanks to a comfortable and exhaustive editor, it is in fact possible to choose the career that best suits your skate style. The new single-player mode is thus divided into three macro-subsections, called Hardcore Skater, Rigger and Pro Skater. Depending on the choices, certain characteristics are acquired: for example, the hardcore skater will soon master unusual techniques such as the Aggro kick, very useful for reaching high speeds, while the professional skater will improve the cleaning of his tricks more and more. The "growth" that you want to give to your alter ego is in the hands of the player: by embarking on a career, in fact, the possibility of learning the techniques of the others is not precluded, and it will therefore be possible, as well as profitable, to progress in parallel to ensure that your skater has as many moves as possible.
The depth of the title lies precisely in the different approach of the various styles: Hardcore are skaters who, regardless of danger, go in search of the most unusual places to show their "art"; their natural habitats thus become the roofs of buildings, electricity pylons and subway rails.
On the contrary, the Pros are the Tony Hawks of the situation, able to fill the squares and constantly looking for the god of money, be it in the form of a competition prize or sponsor. Last, but not least, the Riggers: commonly called "innovators", they don't just skate in extreme conditions, but prefer to build the "amusement park" of their dreams with their own hands. Everything is quick and functional, thanks to a full-bodied editor that allows the customization of the playing area with handrails, half pipes, ramps and the like. If all this were not enough, you can also place a digital camera in the most congenial areas: in this way, your most spectacular shots could soon stand out on the covers of specialized magazines.
As in the last few chapters, Proving Ground has also maintained its basic nature of free-roaming. And if in GTA the exploration of the city is essential for the growth of one's underworld position, in Tony Hawk it will be necessary for the sole purpose of progressing towards the Olympus of Skateboard. The non-player characters therefore play a fundamental role: scattered along the streets of the unprecedented location (the result of the union of the most characteristic neighborhoods of Washington, Baltimore and Philadelphia), they provide explanations and advice, submitting you to "missions" useful to increase your skills.
From the point of view of playability, as per tradition, the laws of physics must be forgotten: the arcade nature that has always accompanied the series proposes the discipline of skate in a grotesque and unlikely key, but no less spectacular. You will then witness infinite leaps and illogically prodigious tricks; however this will certainly not discourage lovers of the saga.
The novelty is represented by the introduction of the Nail the Grab and the Nail the Manual, which are added to the Nail the Trick already implemented in the last episode. Basically, it is about “nailing” the classic tricks in a spectacular full motion sequence using only the analog buttons, now used for the arms, now for the legs.
Imagine finding yourself in front of a ramp: your instinct tells you to aim it at full speed to ensure that your alter ego takes flight and reaches an unimaginable height; once in midair just press the two analog buttons to have total control of the situation, thanks to the two sticks which, in this case, will each be designated to one leg of the skater.
To achieve combos at the limit of the imaginable you need precision and timing, as well as a good dose of training. However, a couple of intense sessions may be enough to be able to master, almost totally, the various evolutions. Just the ease of execution of even the most advanced techniques, represents perhaps the most demeaning limitation of the game, and prematurely narcotizes the degree of satisfaction necessary to make Proving Ground persist in your Playstation 3.
It’s good to play together
While never representing its fulcrum, online has always been an important component of the series. Tony Hawk 3 was in fact the first playable game on the net on Playstation 2, and the brand actually lends itself to intriguing multiplayer modes.
With Proving Ground the Neversoft guys wanted to do more, promoting the creation of real skater communities thanks to very welcome news. In this way you will be able to share with other users both the most spectacular videos of your evolutions and the play areas you have created.
On the other hand, the methods proposed are disappointing; a game with such an arcade nature could have counted on far more intriguing challenges than the classic “Reach 100 points to win”, or “Make the longest combo”; lack of time, or lack of inventiveness? In both cases, a "minus" on the register ...
OOO Hawk Eyes ...
Technically speaking, the game defends itself very well: the polygonal models of the main characters are very accurate, and enjoy truly superlative animations. Obviously, the details scattered around the city, such as the cars or the bins, are not as detailed, but their spartanity is the right price to pay to enjoy a frame-rate nailed to 30 frames per second, and a huge playing area. , now also including a large number of interiors.
The audio sector, on the other hand, is as always one of the flagships of the series, and presents the usual, highly inspired soundtrack that ranges from punk-rock to metal, passing through rap, and satisfying, in fact, the most disparate tastes .
Tony Hawk's Proving Ground is yet another good chapter of a brand that, 8 years after its birth, is starting to be very stale. The innovations introduced, while representing an indisputable step forward, do not distort a gameplay that requires a clear steering towards greater depth. Which does not translate into a mere imitation of Skate; the simulation style proposed by EA is not the only way to give the saga a greater bite, and probably not even the healthiest, given the long line of fans won over the years by superman bazli, and impossible tricks. On the contrary, it would perhaps be desirable to further strain one's arcade nature, so as not to put itself in direct competition with a competition that, after years of chasing, has overtaken.
- A large number of "missions", to choose according to your tastes
- Very large setting
- E’ Tony Hawk...
- After 8 years, something more is expected
- Too obvious multiplayer modes
Unfortunately, not all donuts come out with a hole. In this case, the black sheep is represented by the Wii version, which offers extremely frustrating gameplay. The control system is in fact entrusted exclusively to the Nunchuck-Remote combination, and proves too imprecise, leaving to chance the success or failure of any evolution, even the most elementary.