The Birdman Cometh: Tony Hawk's Proving Ground Interview
New tricks, new modes, and full video editing. We sit down with Neversoft to find out about its new Tony Hawk game and how Guitar Hero contributed.
Page: 1 2
As the Tony Hawk franchise readies for its ninth instalment in as many years, many are wondering whether Activision and developer Neversoft still have any tricks left in their bag.
EA certainly thinks it sees a gap. The company is taking on the Tony Hawk mega-franchise with a new pro-backed game called Skate due later this year. Armed with a different take on the sport, Skate is hoping to dislodge the Tony Hawk series. But Neversoft's not worried.
"Competition is good," says Brian Bright, who is co-director of the project at Neversoft together with Chad Findley. "Hopefully it drives more interest in the genre and sparks everyone to make better and better games," he says.
Their latest game, Tony Hawk's Proving Ground, continues the theme that was begun with Tony Hawk's Underground, the game where the series began to put more emphasis on the story. Proving Ground does this by letting you play in three ways, each corresponding to a very different skater lifestyle.
Probably most recognisable is the Career Skater, people like Ryan Sheckler and Stevie Williams, who thrive in the public spotlight. There's the Hardcore Skater, someone like Mike Vallely, who brings a rawness to everything they do. Then there are the Riggers, like Daewon Song, who put together obstacles and turn the real world into their playground.
It's not just in the storylines where the three lifestyles will differ. Neversoft has associated tricks and other features with each of them, and there are areas in the game that you can only get to through certain career modes.
One of these is the Smithsonian National Air And Space Museum in Washington, D.C. The US capital is one of three full cities found in Proving Ground, with the rest of the action based in Baltimore and Philadelphia. To get into this particular Washington spot you'll need to play some of the missions given to you by skater-turned-MTV-hero Bam Margera.
Each of the three cities is huge, with Baltimore being bigger than anything that Neversoft has made to date. Not every city cranny is included, says Findley, only the stuff that's fun to skate. "The stuff that's fun to skate and as much as we can legally get away with," Bright adds, with a laugh.
It's because of this kitchen-sink approach that Neversoft is probably not going to have any more cities available as downloadable content. "It's possible," says Bright. "We really tried to put everything we can into the box. We could've cut one off and charged people for it later. Probably by the time we finish this one we're going to be looking to how to move the genre forward."
In this year's iteration, customisability and freedom are essential, and nowhere is this better demonstrated than in the new trick systems. Spurred on by the overwhelmingly positive response to the Nail The Trick mode from Tony Hawk's Project 8, where players can control their character's feet directly using the analog sticks, in Proving Ground you'll be able to directly control grabs and manuals using the appropriately named Nail The Grab and Nail The Manual modes.
Of course, this being the Tony Hawk series, the fun really starts once you start chaining moves together, and you'll be able to link up tricks from all three Nail modes. "That allows you to have that ultra realistic pro-style skateboarding but also allows you to be as creative as you want to be," says Bright.
There are other little add-ons too, stuff like the Agro Push. Push around on your board and you'll quickly hit terminal velocity, but time your kicks perfectly and you'll get a major boost, letting you tackle much bigger gaps.