E3 07: Tony Hawk's Proving Ground

As long as gravity remains relatively constant and there's enough wood to make skateboards, the Tony Hawk series will never stop. Despite that predictability, Activision and developer Neversoft tend to give us enough improvement and innovation from installment to installment to pique our curiosity. Enter Tony Hawk's Proving Ground.

Following the lines of bigger/better/more, the follow-up to the refreshing Project 8 highlights three major cities. Hitting the East coast like a skull on pavement are Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington DC. Each one is a massive, sprawling metropolis treading the fine line between realism and playability - not to mention scenic locales, exclusive competitions, and tailored soundtracks (we demand Bad Brains for DC!).

The story is packed with choices this time around, and chief among them is which of the three skate classes you most portray. The hardcores skate until it hurt, then skate some more. Mike Vallely is the prototype of hardcore. Riggers are more innovative and change up the landscape for ultimate runs: think Rodney Mullen. And finally, Career skaters are the moneymakers of the business - guys like Tony Hawk and Stevie Williams. You know, the rock stars.