Sitting next to the developer of Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground, it’s obvious Neversoft are excited about the game. Demonstrating some new things for the Tony Hawk’s series, there was a lot to brag about. Were they worried about the damage skate. could do to their sales? Not one bit here, as they showed off what they think makes Tony Hawk’s better than skate..
The first question that was answered with a definite yes is custom parks in online play. The game now features seamless single player to multiplayer transition, where gamers from anywhere around the world can just drop in to your world. You have the ability to place objects wherever you please in order to get some awesome tricks going, and anything you have placed along the way will be seen by your friends for them to skate on too.
Not only that, but there is also a new “MySpace” type idea brought into the game. It’s the place where you hang out and customise to reflect you as a skater. You can choose what music you wish to play, so if you only want some Hip-Hop tunes, untick everything else and that’s all you will get. Against the walls, you can play any video that you have unlocked along the way to show off to anyone that comes and visits. And it is here where the MySpace reference comes in. Friends can join you and hang out in your space; they will hear the same music as the host, and will see the same video of the host. They can ride on all the stuff you put down in your pad too. You have the option of what theme you would like your place to be, and there were a wealth of options in the menu for just a demo. You unlock more as you go through the single player, so there will always be stuff to add.
The theme of friends joining up was further continued when discussing the new Video Editor. This is for the “wannabe directors”, and it allows you to put up to thirty minutes of video together from various clips you have shot along the way. You can edit anything and everything, and even get the video to change scene along with the beat of your chosen music. Shooting the video couldn’t be easier; just go to the start menu and press “Record”. It’ll record everything you do until you stop it, then it’s all yours to mess about with. The video shown was mighty impressive, and it was clear how the scene change on the beat worked. They borrowed some of the technology for Guitar Hero, and it’s clear it was a good idea. Chad Findley, co-director of the game said he had spent days just messing about with it.
If you create an amazing video, there’s also the chance to upload it to the servers. Here, everyone in the world will be able to see your skills in both skating and directing a short film. It’s something that is likely to prove very successful when the game ships this Fall. As for multiplayer modes, it was said that old favourites will be returning, but there will be some new ones too. Nothing else was divulged sadly.
The single player is perhaps the most diverse part of the game though. Gone is the one track storyline and gone is the support for the Vision Camera. Instead you have three different types of skater, each with their own unique story. This is demonstrated in the trailer above, as each of the three have their own unique styles, and their own unique personalities. The characters can be customised to suit your tastes of course, but no face mapping seems to be the only rule. As you play through the game, you will mould your character to what suits you best, and they will soon adopt one of the three personality traits: a Career Athlete (fully focused on hitting the big time), a Hardcore Skater (who punches people out of his way as he races onto ramps to nail the tricks), or a Rigger (who uses the environment around him to make his own ramps and jumps).
Nail the trick is back too, and it has brought some friends. Say hello to Nail the Grab and Nail the Manual, which gives the player full control of the moves as they happen. It looks fantastic when activated, and the demonstration was a flawless example of why Tony Hawk’s is still a lot of fun, even for non-skaters.
Throughout the game you can, as already mentioned, place objects all around the particular place you are in to allow you to get some sweet tricks. There’s also the option to place a camera tripod. Why? So you can take pictures of yourself of course. You can set the focus bubble to be big or small, it’s up to you. Then, when the skater comes into the view, the viewpoint is switched to the camera and a slow motion affect occurs, giving you plenty of time to get it right. What makes a good shot though? Well, snap your sponsor’s logo and you’ll reap the rewards. The pictures, if super-spectacular, can also be saved to your hard drive for later bragging.
The demo being shown was already two to three weeks old, however it still looked impressive. There were some clipping and collision detection issues, but it’s hard to be critical on the matter when it’s obvious they will fix it in due time. At one point someone went straight through a ramp, but we were promised this wouldn’t happen come release.
It certainly appears to be a deep experience to be had here, and can surely only get better come release. If PES and FIFA are at War, then it certainly seems EA have created another by going up against Neversoft. I asked what Chad Findley thought about skate. and whether it was a real threat to the Tony Hawk’s franchise. He didn’t seem at all phased though:
“We welcome and indeed like the competition that skate. presents. It’s certainly interesting. We have been developing Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground for one and a half years now, before we knew about skate.. When EA revealed their intentions, we haven’t changed anything. We feel skate. is a sim, and Tony Hawk’s is more of a game.”
Sadly he wouldn’t say anything quotable about what he thought of skate.’s analog controls, which seems to make it a lot less accessible compared to the button controls of Tony Hawk’s games, which allow anyone to jump right in and play. Let’s just say he probably agreed with me that skate. is less accessible.
The game will be shipping this Fall, and it will be intriguing to see which one fairs better. Chad was also kind enough to inform me that a demo is on the way, “very soon” to be exact, so it definitely won’t be long before you can compare for yourselves.