Other old features get polished up, too. The familiar “Classic” mode - complete a series of objectives and score targets within a two-minute run - is back, this time activated via a number of Tony Hawk arcade machines dotted across the cities. Through these cabinets, you can access high-score runs from the cute retro menu, or play a whole new mode: Hawkman. This involves collecting a series of blobs scattered around the locality, their colors dictating just how you’ve got to collect them (for instance, red ones have to be gathered while airborne, yellow while grinding).
In line with the multi-tiered Am/Pro/Sick difficulty system that allows you to choose how problematic each challenge is, Hawkman’s “Sick” rating requires you collect every blob in just one single combo. And such masochism brings us neatly to a final detail of note: the bail goals from previous games, where you’d have to fling your skater from their board and steer their floppy body into giant bowling pins and the like, are now gone.
So, welcome to your new Proving Ground, Tony Hawk veterans - a feature-stuffed, pimped out, online epic. The key question - has it changed enough to woo back old fans tempted by EA’s Skate? - is almost irrelevant. Tony’s continuing his fine tradition of treating skateboarding as much as a larger-than-life videogame than as a sport, while EA’s outing is looking to bring skating’s cartoon excesses down to earth with a respectful thump. Whatever flavor of virtual boarding you’re interested in - the more regular footing of Skate or the goofy exaggeration of Proving Ground - it looks like the latter half of 2007 is going to more than happy to accommodate.