Tony Hawk's Proving Ground: Hands-On With the XBL Demo

We get a sneak peek at the upcoming downloadable demo of Activision's latest skater.


The beauty of skating is that all you need are a decent sense of balance, a board, and a fun place to skate. You need even less to enter the world of skating video games. Provided you've got a next-generation console, all it takes is $60 and a pair of opposable thumbs to get skating away, likely pulling off tricks you'd never be able to do in real life. At a recent Activision press event showing off some of the latest games from the publisher, we put our thumbs to work with the Xbox Live demo version of Neversoft's upcoming Tony Hawk's Proving Ground, the ninth game in the long-running skateboarding series.

Rigging challenges will test your creativity and your skating skills.
Rigging challenges will test your creativity and your skating skills.

The demo, which doesn't have a solid release date other than "soon," is designed to show off the three major paths your created skater can take in the game: rigger, hardcore, and career. As we've mentioned in our previous look at the game, the three different paths feature different characters and story arcs. They will also challenge your Tony Hawk skills in a variety of different ways. Consider the demo's rigging challenge, for example. Here, you'll meet up with a camera man named Rube, who's looking to film you skating off a variety of different kickers with the eventual goal of sending the video to Jeff King, rigger extraordinaire and host of Fuel's "Built to Shred."

The rigging challenges are simple: You simply need to place ramps or kickers around cars and then let Rube film you as you jump over them. Rigging challenges are an introduction to the different rigging tools you'll be using in the full version of the game. As a result, you won't have a full menu of items to place in the world. For example, in the first challenge, you'll need to place a ramp on either side of a car then jump from one to the other. In the next, you place a kicker ramp in front of a car and jump over it. Within the rigger menu, you be able to choose where you place the object and rotate the piece using the LB or RB button. The final challenge in the rigging path will have you use both a kicker and a rail, with the latter on placed on top of the car. Here you'll be required to jump off the kicker and then grind on the rail on top of the car, which is a slightly more challenging but still manageable early goal.

Another challenge in the demo is an introduction to the hardcore path in the game. Here, there's a gap that your created skater hasn't been able to cross. To finally get over that gap, skater Mike Valley will teach you how to use the aggro kick, a new mechanic that will give you a significant boost of speed by pressing the RB button (or R1 on the PlayStation 3 version of the game). The trick with the aggro kick is that it's timing based, and to gain maximum speed out of it, you'll need to get a careful rhythm going. To acclimate yourself to the aggro kick, you'll race around Philly in a timed checkpoint race. Each time you pass through a checkpoint, you'll add more time to the clock. If you beat the race, you'll practice combining the aggro kick with simple jumps until you have mastered the technique well enough to finally jump the gap that seemed insurmountable before.

Your final available path in the demo will be an introduction to the career path. Here, Bob Burnquist will introduce you to the subtleties of the nail-the-grab system. It's a fairly lengthy and detailed tutorial that will give you slow-motion examples of the different subtleties of the feature, which plays a lot like last year's nail-the-trick mode. It will also give you plenty of on-screen prompts for how and when to use the left or right analog sticks once you're in midair. As we described in our previous look at the game, you have a ton of flexibility and control over your skater and the board with Proving Ground's nail-the-trick or nail-the grab features. Once you've got the basics here, you'll be limited only by your imagination (and your reflexes) in the full game.

Nail the grab is an extension of last year's nail the trick feature.
Nail the grab is an extension of last year's nail the trick feature.

When you aren't participating in the career paths--and they probably won't take you that long to get through--you will have a 10-minute time limit in the demo during which you can skate through the inner-city section of Philadelphia to your heart's content. After that, the game will reset, and any of the challenges you've completed (including rewards you've earned, such as new gear), will be reset as well. During those 10 minutes, you'll be able to check out other features in the game, such as skills challenges and video introductions for features, which includes the all new skate lounge, as well as the video editor. You'll even be able to check out the video editor for yourself, though it will have limited functionality compared with the extremely flexible tool that will be in the final game.

No release date has been given for the demo of Proving Ground, but we do know the retail version of the game is due for release in October. Stay tuned for much more on the game in the coming weeks.

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Avatar image for badash22

Why can't we just shut up and play both, you know, enjoy both styles of gameplay?

Avatar image for Gilga_Mesh

I like this game on X-Box 360 i thought it was well fun!

Avatar image for xSpitFire3x

I'll end up getting both this and SKATE, they're both completely different types of skating games.

Avatar image for skylarsdabest06

I played THPS 3, it ruled, but the newer ones are just as fun, i LOVE TO FREE SKATE. THat's why I love TOny Hawk games. Skate looks good, but anyone who says any TOny Hawk games suck, even the new ones, then you can just suck my balls you f***ing whiners

Avatar image for playstation_wii

The demo is awesome on the PS3, so it's surely the same case here! :D

Avatar image for bennie12

They need to stop fooling around and do something new.

Avatar image for ricketyrack

i aggre with adamtree there getting old now thug 2 was good i thought possible better than american wasteland i havent even tried project 8 ill give the demo a go oh yer whatever happened to drying cars on tony hawks :S ?

Avatar image for cellar_door

personally, i want this game AND skate. theyre both very good.

Avatar image for adamtree

tony hawk went stale after 3.... all the games are exactly the same with one new twist put in, its just a bunch of garbage, theyre just throwin this one out to keep the eyes off of skate which is gonna be one badass game, i rocked the demo and im stoked...

Avatar image for sonynhater

its just about taste. if you want an arcade skating game than its tony hawk for you, but if you want a realistic skating game than its skate

Avatar image for matty_sen

pls i hope to god and everything they have a new scoring system to god pls god pls god can u hear me?

Avatar image for matty_sen

skate has won it this year but thats not all the crowd people who dnt care about real life skating may go for thpg. but ill get both the new trailr looked a bit like the frist thug gd days and i hope it dosent have a crap story like last year:P

Avatar image for gatsbythepig

This looks promising.

Avatar image for sonynhater

thps is the best. in my opinoin. but real skaters will go for skate and people like me will go for thps. the skate demo was okay, i wasnt a fan of only being able to do two different moves becuase everything else was almost impossible to do.

Avatar image for MrR0BAT0

Why would anyone opt for this over skate. Tony Hawks has been allowed to get slack, and now with competition EA has beat it on its first attempt.

Avatar image for FraserAlexander

I bought project 8 and thought it was a very good game, and was worth the money by the time i traded it in and got probably 20-30 hours playing time out of it. IMO THPS one was the best tony hawk, I've always liked it better than all the other ones.

Avatar image for brokendisk

Jesus christ you guys are so whiny nowadays. You all sound like a bunch of spoiled kids who didnt sleep good last night. I really enjoyed the last tony hawk game. The city was huge and it looked great in 720p. It may not have been the best, but I still had a lot of fun playing it. Quit being so hateful and whiny. I feel like I'm reading reviews from a bunch of women. I hate this, I hate that, cmon. Most of the kids these days get beat at a round of halo 2, throw the game across the room and start hating everything about it. and really, just because you sniped me from across a level does not make you a "gangster". Its like I cant die in peace anymore without some 12 year old telling me how badass he is. chill out people. Tony hawk was fun, not perfect, but still cool. And if you think you're a tough guy because of killing me at halo, do what I do, take up some mixed martial arts, learn how to be quiet, step inside an octogon and then maybe start to think if you're as tough as you talk online.

Avatar image for Pwns_nubs

ok.. i wanna hate on this game so bad [playing the skate. demo has made me forget about my old love for tony hawk, and i already reserved my copy]. but i'll admit since i was in 5th, maybe 6th grade, when the original THPS was released, the series had always helped me hold down my skate lust without ever having to leave the house.. but these guys gotta know when it's over. the only people this series will appeal to anymore, i believe, is the much younger gamers who like to see 2 story high ollies and 70ft spine transfers.. all i can say, is skate will be enough to make most THPS fans swith their preference.

Avatar image for km1498

Although I think that the series has been going down hill since the 3rd one, I will check out the demo when it comes out. And if its bad I'll get my skating fix from Skate which looks good so far(I liked skate's demo).

Avatar image for sonic0491

pro skater 3 was king- sick of this repetitive s***

Avatar image for p00phead

bloody hell give us a pro skater 5 or thug3 no more crap nail the trick stuff and American wasteland crap

Avatar image for rotiv415

Best Tony Hawk game is "3". hope fully this new one is a step above what its been in the past years.

Avatar image for Mikey_PJ

Tony Hawks series is going downhill and now with skate coming out, it looks alot worst for the classic skating series, and we could be looking at the near end with this game.

Avatar image for Destroyer10507

Everybody can't wait for this game to make a big hit. Hoping it doesn't suck like the last 3 games tony hawk made. I still think the best tony hawk game is Under Ground. if they can keep to its storyline going just right and make it into a build your own career again then i am going to like this game and i think everybody else out there would like it too. Peace, Destroyer out!!

Avatar image for sweet1234

IMO Skate is alot better..... 1.) The whole stick idea is a great feature makes it more realistic 2.)Tony Hawk franchise died when THUG came out that was a waste of time but it was the best and only skateboarding game at the time so I would buy's to bad i liked Tony Hawk's 1, 2, 3 and 4 everything else was pretty much the samething over and over.....

Avatar image for paranoiasurviva

I don't want to nail the grab.

Avatar image for V4LENT1NE

They lost the touch imo, they had a great franchise but let money take over product quality, I loved TH1, 2, 3, 4, soon after that they turned stale as hell, just kept banging cheap rushed games out, sad really.

Avatar image for killroycantkill

Fatafreak ur analysis is kinda right but videogames are made to make u be able to do things that you are not able to do in real life and thats what makes tony hawk so fun. Skate is selling to more of a niche market the skaters who want a sim. It all based on your choice of fun.

Avatar image for fatafreak

why dont they do the skate thing where you always have to do the trick. my analysis... THPG=skater wannabies, that they only know how to do a kickflip by up, left trigger. Skate=for real skaters that know how to do the tricks.

Avatar image for Preston192

I lost interest in this series after THUG2. THPG looks somewhat promising, though. I'll be sure to hit up the demo.

Avatar image for PerfectDark0Fan

Accoriding to the media, SKATE is better.

Avatar image for Hedgyness

Im quite split between the two, Skate. is awesome but THPG looks really good too. ill wait until the THPG demo is out to decide.

Avatar image for jim_sk8er_201

Skate= Realistic fun THPG= Unrealistic fun IDK bout you guys but im gonna try out both of these skate games cause they both look equally fun:D

Avatar image for stygiansanity

I'm not a fan of the whole Nail-the-Trick/Grab stuff...I miss THPS and THUG

Avatar image for Apollyon_xK_OSx

I'm pretty sure Skate will win this one.

Avatar image for shehan11

i think skate is gone be good but people are not gone like it that much because of the hard controlrs.people want not human stuff like jump from a building and not die.

Avatar image for marioman50

it's too early to say which will be better, let's just wait

Avatar image for caboose928

skate looks better

Avatar image for Themilkman418

Skate is going to be MUCH better

Avatar image for soundofspeet

Very cool. I can't wait to get my hands on this one. I still haven't gotten around to last year's, though...

Avatar image for Mariofan1314

I didn't buy the most recent Tony Hawk game (Project 8),but bought all Tony Hawk games before it.I hope that this time around I'll actually WANT to play Tony Hawk again.

Avatar image for Neosword

I'll be curious to see how this one turns out, has some potential.

Avatar image for supersonic_e

haha lol it cant be that all they did was add nail the grab thats just gay wait till the f**king demo/release date ppl like seraphim just read like a 5 second article and judge a game.

Avatar image for SeraphimRequiem

I was really hoping they'd introduce a new, more interesting element to the game other than "nail the grab", which is just an add on to nail the trick. I've been playing the skate. demo for a little while now, and it's definitely fun. I like the slightly more realistic approach than the ridiculously extreme goals presented in the TH series. There hasn't been enough done to this series in order to keep it fresh. I really hope that skate. will change the whole playing field though and get the TH crew motivated.

Avatar image for supersonic_e

skate of course beats any other tony hawk game but this might be the turning point, the one tony hawk game where i cant get owned by button mashers. i agree with jedioutkast that it may be a just a renovation of the big mac , and deep inside i have faith to believe that the big mac got a new, good flavor. ( meaning thpg will be good)

Avatar image for the_monkey_god

Project 8 was bad enough. I think the best thing to do is to go with Skate. At least Skate is doing something new and fresh.

Avatar image for Lu_E_G

Tony kinda messed up, they was given a HD next gen console to make project 8 on and they basically made THUG2 with slow motion, skate is the fisrt unique skating game that has came out and its sik

Avatar image for OseanLight

tony hawk is OG and skate is the new kid