Although skateboarding is now an accepted genre in video games, the notion of an entire franchise being built around the sport seemed crazy back in 1999. That didn't stop Activision and Southern California-based developer Neversoft from releasing Tony Hawk's Pro Skater for the original PlayStation. The gamble paid off handsomely with the rare mix of critical and commercial success you don't see that often in games. The ensuing years have seen the trailblazing game evolve to incorporate different gameplay and story elements that have helped the franchise cement its pioneer status. Despite the various accolades the game has received, Neversoft isn't one to rest on its laurels, and the upcoming Tony Hawk's Proving Ground offers some intriguing tweaks to the franchise's formula. At a recent press event, Activision and Neversoft offered a presentation to show off more of this promising entry, the ninth in the venerable series.
Neversoft approached the game with three key tenets, customization, personalization, and freedom, which have served to inform Proving Ground's development. As a result, the game will feature an expansive single-player mode that lets you shape your own rise to stardom. You'll work your way up from obscurity by skating on through the ranks of hopefuls in events spread out through three cities. Your road to awesomeness will be paved with a variety of new competitions that will test your skills and show off Neversoft's refinement of the classic Tony Hawk control scheme. The team is continuing its exploration of new ways to let players express their skills via extensions of the dual-stick trick mechanic introduced in last year's Project 8. This year's game will feature a bevy of new uses that not only offer what appears to be an unprecedented amount of freedom for players, but some pretty cool mechanics to boot.
Proving Ground's presentation is shaping up quite nicely, offering a refinement of the work Neversoft's been doing on the series. The character models are detailed and motion-captured to offer the game's cast a sharp look. The environments are on par with the impressive work done in the previous games, offering a bit more detail in places and a great sense of scale. In addition, the game will include a video editing feature that will let you splice together clips of your hottest tricks. The various camera filters and effects that can be brought into play in the video editing appear to be pretty robust. From what we saw, it seems entirely possible to stitch together your own slickly produced, YouTube-worthy video.
Audio in the game is taking the same approach as the last few games. You can expect to hear a hefty chunk of dialogue along with the traditional array of effects. In addition, the game will feature an eclectic mix of songs that run the gamut from the expected skater tunes to more diverse territory.
Based on what we saw, Tony Hawk's Proving Ground is shaping up to be a strong entry in the series. The core gameplay appears to be expanding in some interesting places, and the various customization elements hold a lot of promise. Though we weren't able to try the game yet ourselves, we're anxious to see how Neversoft's new take on its classic series goes. Tony Hawk's Proving Ground is slated to ship this fall. Look for more on the game next week on our live show at E3, where we'll have Neversoft doing a live demo, and in the months leading up to its release.