Tony Hawk's Proving Ground Review

This version of Proving Ground makes it pretty clear that the priority for the Tony Hawk series is not on this platform.

With the core developers of the Tony Hawk franchise off and skating on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, the other console versions have been turned over to different developers. Those developers are Page 44 Studios, who have turned out a version of Tony Hawk's Proving Ground for the PlayStation 2 and the Wii. As with many multiplatform games, the different versions operate on multiple tiers. The PS3 and 360 obviously had the most work put into them, and the games were clearly designed for those systems. Then there's the PlayStation 2 and Wii versions, which aren't nearly as fresh as the 360/PS3 take on the game…which wasn't especially fresh to begin with. That means you're left with a third-rate Tony Hawk game that uses some of the elements from the main versions. And if you happen to be playing on the Wii, you also get to deal with a pretty bad set of controls.

You can take on goals in different orders, but it doesn't feel as if there are very many of them.
You can take on goals in different orders, but it doesn't feel as if there are very many of them.

The Wii controls weren't really designed to handle a game like this, especially one with so many different little techniques. They've all been squeezed onto the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, but they neither feel intuitive nor take advantage of the Wii's unique strengths. About the only concession made for the Wii version is that the screen makes note of every time you move the Remote or Nunchuk, so you can at least see what it's detecting and adjust if that isn't what you're trying to do. But it never feels quite right when you're aggro kicking for more speed by continually lifting the Remote, or when shoving both halves of the controller forward to perform an attack. On the other hand, the PlayStation 2 version has the typical Tony Hawk control set. In both cases, the game runs way too fast and the controls aren't tight enough to properly control your skater at this high rate of speed. The end result is a skittish-looking game that feels kind of bad.

The controls are applied to a stripped-down take on a typical Tony Hawk adventure. The catch this time around is that there are three different types of main goals: the competitions and photo-taking of the career lifestyle, the rough-and-tumble world of hardcore skating, and the level-editing and climbing of the rigger. However, it's all awfully straightforward, and none of the goals are especially interesting or memorable. You'll also encounter street challenges, which set you up to grind specific lines, manual past set markers, and so on. All of this same stuff is present in the 360/PS3 release. The catch is that there just isn't as much of it on the Wii and PlayStation 2, and the levels feel a little empty as a result. Also, it's weird that there are "levels" to begin with. Presumably due to technical limitations, the "one large world" concept of the other versions isn't present on the Wii and PS2. You have to stop, hit a menu, and load up another section of the world to take on different goals. But you don't need to compare this to the other versions of the game to see its shortcomings. It's lackluster on its own merits.

The visuals get the point across and look all right compared to other recent PS2 and Wii games. Taken side by side, the Wii version looks a bit cleaner around the edges. Unfortunately, most of the animation appears to be recycled from previous games and doesn't look so hot. The levels feel sort of barren and lacking in features, and the cutscenes that introduce the goals are all video that was taken from the real-time cutscenes found in the other versions of the game. The sound effects, like the animations, are largely recycled. Some of them don't match up so well, so you'll occasionally hear the sound of your board grinding on a metal rail, but you're pretty clearly grinding on concrete. The game also features the typical sort of multigenre soundtrack that you'd expect from the series.

Now that the main games in the series have moved on to a larger and somewhat more realistic style of level design, it's hard to go back and break it down into chunks again for these lesser versions. Some chunks don't have anything interesting to skate on, and it's a pain to move around the city and go back to accomplish different goals, especially when those goals aren't very good to begin with. The Tony Hawk series has seen better days on all platforms, but the PS2 and Wii releases are especially shabby this year.

The Good
Decent visuals
The Bad
Most of the goals feel too plain
Not enough things to do
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About the Author

Jeff Gerstmann has been professionally covering the video game industry since 1994.

Tony Hawk's Proving Ground More Info

  • First Released Oct 15, 2007
    • DS
    • PlayStation 2
    • + 3 more
    • PlayStation 3
    • Wii
    • Xbox 360
    Tony Hawk's Proving Ground lets your create your own skater, and manage their character, story and style from start to finish.
    Average Rating2298 Rating(s)
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    Developed by:
    Vicarious Visions, Page 44 Studios, Neversoft Entertainment
    Published by:
    Sports, Skateboarding/Skating
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Alcohol and Tobacco Reference, Language, Violence