Skate Vs. Tony Hawk: Fight!

tonyhawkprovingground3-1.jpgThis fall is apparently becoming a series of showdowns between games that cover similar subject matter, where one franchise is the new kid on the block, while its contender is the old veteran. Rock Band is taking on Guitar Hero III for the title of “Best Rhythm-Based Music Game,” and Skate is challenging the Tony Hawk series for skating game supremacy. Yesterday marked the Xbox Live Marketplace release of the demo for the upcoming Tony Hawk: Proving Ground, the next installment of the venerable series. Since the Skate demo has been out for a while, now we can finally see how the two stack up to each other. So I decided to spend some time on each demo and see how they compare:

Tony Hawk: Proving Ground

The Tony Hawk series has been getting flack for years about basically rehashing the same formula over and over. This doesn’t mean the games are any less fun, but it does mean any new addition to the series can get old much faster. Neversoft has been promising that Proving Ground will revamp the franchise with several new features, which the demo lets you try out. In the story missions you have access to, you’re mostly taught how to use some of the new gameplay features, like “Nail the Trick/Grab” and rigging, where you can place skatable objects on the fly. The graphics have also naturally been enhanced quite a bit, and the levels seem to have a much greater level of detail than before.

The controls have been preserved, so if you’ve played any Tony Hawk game in the past, you’ll be able to perform some decent combos right off the bat. The most notable change is an increased sense of realism. The physics are still a little goofy (like how grinding speeds you up), but the general environment feels less ridiculous. You can no longer pull off tricks that can’t be done in real life. Also, your goals are more grounded in reality and no longer require you to catch tigers or something. Although, the full game will apparently include a Classic Mode, with the usual objective Tony Hawk games are known for (collect S-K-A-T-E, find the secret tape, etc.)

At its heart though, if you stripped away any mention of Tony Hawk or Neversoft from the game, you’d still know it was a Tony Hawk title. This is kind of a good thing, but also kind of a bad thing. It’s good, because if you liked past Tony Hawk games, you’ll enjoy this one. It’s bad though, because there won’t be much challenge for veterans of the series.


It should be said that my only experience with skating games has been the Tony Hawk series. I’ve gotten used to almost absent-mindedly hammering out combos and tricks for years now. That said, Skate is a whole different animal. I know they’re both skating games, but they feel nothing alike when you’re playing them. You might as well be playing a shooter and a puzzle game; they just seem that different from each other.

While Tony Hawk may have amped up the realism some, Skate still feels more like a skating simulator comparatively. The physics in this game are entirely based in reality, so grinding slows you down, you have to push with your foot to move, and, if you hit a wall at full speed, you’ll fall down. The demo starts you out with a tutorial, and this has got to be one of the more challenging tutorials for a game I’ve ever had to go through. Besides the fact that the guy narrating it mostly keeps talking up the game and describing everything in it as “sick,” the controls take a lot of getting used to. Each button and joystick is tuned to a different part of your body or your board. You can’t lock your fingers into set positions, like with Tony Hawk; your fingers have to move all over the place to pull off a majority of the tricks. For example, say you want to ollie off a half-pipe and do a grab trick:

Tony Hawk: Hold and release A at the top of the pipe. Hit B.

Skate: Hold A until you push with your board three times. Pull back on the right stick for a second and then move it up at the top of the pipe. In the air, hit the left or right trigger.

Eventually, I managed to get the hang of it for the most part, but it does require a bit of practice. Grinding takes the most adjustment though. Unlike Tony Hawk, where your board snaps to an edge or rail just by hitting the grind button, Skate requires you to land on it almost perfectly. With the constantly shifting camera making it hard to line up your board right, this can quickly become an incredible annoyance. The camera is usually located at about your character’s hip height, and it keeps flying from left to right depending on which direction you’re moving. Frequently though, it seems unsure of which direction to go, leaving your character off-screen for a few seconds while it makes up its mind. And of course, in this time, you’ve fallen on your head. Tony Hawk’s camera moves to the side as well, but only when you’ve started a trick, and then that usually helps you see what’s ahead more than hampers your vision.

Overall, Skate is extremely, almost painfully realistic. It’s certainly impressive, but I don’t know if it really makes it a fun game. Tony Hawk has gotten more realistic, but still has that crazy sense of physics. Unfortunately, it also doesn’t seem to bring much more to the series other than that. Graphically speaking, Skate’s character models are marginally better than Tony Hawk’s, but the world in the demo feels so scarce compared to the vibrant, populated level from Tony Hawk. I guess I’m just not that impressed with either one of these games too much. One’s pretty fun, but basically not that different from before; the other certainly different, but not all that fun. Of course, these are both merely demos, so we could see some changes before the full games are released later this year.

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No Comments on Skate Vs. Tony Hawk: Fight!


On September 13, 2007 at 6:14 pm

I don’t think Tony Hawk was fun at all. Getting speed is a terrible inconvenience, it’s graphics aren’t as good, and you get bored pretty quickly. Skate, although, is very fun. I’ve replayed the demo five times now, doing all these cool tricks, (which actually require skill), and it’s a million times more satisfying to land a trick or grind. It’s not difficult, you’ll probably have to retry a couple tutorial parts a few times, but it’s incredibly intuitive. I’m definitely going to buy it over Hawk.


On September 13, 2007 at 6:53 pm

Ya uh, skate is WAYYYY better then tony hawk, i play the SKATE demo like 2 times a day. i just downloaded tony hawk and i thought it would be awesome…
HUGE let down, but if i hadnt of played skate, i wouldve been REALLY impressed from tonyhawk american wasteland to tony hawk proven grounds.
all in all, skate is MUCH better.


On September 21, 2007 at 11:29 pm

I recently bought Skate and have come to the conclusion that it is hands down better than tony hawk. Although the graphics are similar in quality, gameplay isn’t even close to the same. Skate is way more intuitive control-wise, where as THPG still feels too much like the same game from 9 years ago.

Regarding the comment in this comparison that states that in proving ground “You can no longer pull off tricks that can’t be done in real life” i would have to disagree. The whole nail the trick/grab thing is still quite ridiculous, and is not even close to an accurate representaion of actual skateboarding. I would also like to point out that it is very unrealistic to accelerate when you land in a grind.

I can appreciate that fact that THPG seems to have made an effort in changing the series, but the major facelift required for goo ol’ tony is not one of environment, story, or video editing. What is necisary is a different control scheme, like say the one found in skate.

Skate may seem difficult initially, mainly because we are used to grinding 500+ feet in a skateboarding game after 10 minutes of playing, but when the controls become comfortable you can really have a lot of fun with the game. There are tons of combination of tricks you can come up with, accompanied with a great sense of accomplishment in learning and landing each trick.


On September 23, 2007 at 5:59 pm

From playing both of these demos, I have come to the conclusion that tony hawk’s game is is a huge waste of demo space. After tony hawk 2, the whole game has been such a joke, the realism doesnt compare to skates. Skate is as real as you can get. I havnt seen a better game for the xbox360 yet. I havnt been happier with a game ever.


On October 9, 2007 at 7:47 am

I’m all for suspension of disbelief in the THPS series and doing improbable tricks that don’t make any sense but SKATE, while not perfect, is enough of a reason for tony to pull the plug on THPS forever, for serious…

Once you understand SKATE’s controls and how they function within the environments there is no way in hell you can go back to THPS. I played the Proving Ground demo and it felt like a cheap plastic childrens toy. THPS2 was revolutionary and mindblowing but today the series is just pure gimmicks with redundant gameplay.

I think it took balls for EA to go heads up with the THPS juggernaut and its a classic david vs goliath battle. In case you forgot goliath gets his head cut off while dave rocks SKATE at my house in full effect. Plus, mullen should have signed over to EA and tom penny should have been up in there too, and bastian.


On October 14, 2007 at 6:18 pm

Ok so we’ve concluded that SKATE kicks THPS ass. But the big question is what will come next. Tony Hawk has got to come up with another game, even if SKATE toke THPG. I truly believe that Pro Skater will use what they know, change some stuff around, and really give this rivalry a shot. I don’t know what it is, but Pro Skater has bean in this business to long to give up now. They will come back with something fierce.

While Skate being the first of its kind will have to fix its few imperfections for SKATE 2. The camera is supposed to simulate a guy following you and filming, and that’s cool, but it’s not practical for a videogame. SKATE 2 I think will have a moveable camera.

The story in skate, well, it sucks, it’s the same as any skate game or movie ever made. It’s a guy trying to go pro. They have got to find another, interesting storyline to follow. The only real control problems are the fact that you lack the ability to do things in SKATE, that you can do in Tony Hawk, things like flat ground tricks, hand plants, getting off your board, doing a boneless stuff like that.

Here’s an idea maybe you could start out not knowing how to do anything on the board, and over time you develop bigger olies and learn different tricks, and they get more and more clean as you practice them. That would be cool.

The only other issue is the fact that all the skaters in the game are mostly the second hand pro’s, there’s no one really that impressive or famous excluding two or three guys. Also each guy has the exact same skating style and the exact same tricks. If they fix all these problems then I don’t know how THPS can catch up. Either way I can’t wait to see what happens in the next 2 games.


On October 14, 2007 at 6:23 pm

You know skate will be fine tuned if they add a character like Rodney Mullen in the game.

Ziggy Grant

On October 15, 2007 at 10:15 pm


I’ve never bought a skate game for the story. But I’ll certainly consider that next time.

I’m trying to imagine a story for a skate game that people wouldn’t laugh at…

Skate away from the War of the Worlds style tripods? Skate to impress your future wife? Metal Gear solid with a Skateboard?

What I’m trying to say is that it’s completely ridiculous to even mention the story in a skate game.

Also, skate. does a good job of this because -despite the cheesy ‘Going PRO’ story – recording and editing your own videos is designed to alow you to make your own story…


On October 23, 2007 at 8:26 am

Skate is what I’ve been waiting for. Hands down better than thpg. As for the previous coment about second rate pros, what the hell are you talking about have you actually seen skate videos of these guys. Watch Ryans part in PJ Ladds wonderful horrible life, Dills part in the habitat video photosynthesis, Pauls part in Transworld InBloom, etc. Bam margera is more of a second rate pro compared to the roster on this game. Overall though skate is my fix for the winter when I can go on skate missions.


On October 23, 2007 at 2:29 pm

Chris you are retarded. It sounds like you’re sad that THPG got whipped? And that second hand pro stuff. The tony hawk games have just drove commercialism into your brain on who are the better skaters. The truth is that almost every single skater in SKATE are better than Tony Hawk. Whether you want to believe it or not all the people on that game are dead and so is the game. Jerry Hsu makes all the THPS’ cry blood.


On December 12, 2007 at 9:34 am

THPS sucks. Personal i believe it chould not be on the shelves because tony hawk is getting old. He’s a good skater but it’s time to let other people hve glory.
Skate is by far better than THPS. As long as you can get the controls down then you won’t want to play THPS any more.


On January 3, 2008 at 4:45 pm

skate is a thousand times better, maybe for people who cant grasp the concept of actually skating or just like to button mash like crazy and get thousands of points for no skill tony hawk is the way to go, but i think they should just bury the series before it gets more severely romped


On January 6, 2008 at 9:08 pm

Skate is way better than THPS cause Skate is more realistic and and THPS can get boring will ing quick to me


On January 11, 2008 at 5:08 pm

Well, Well, Well…
I’ve been playing THPS since it’s first release.
I now pitty myself for ever buying a THPS and spending all that hard earned money and wasting the time playing.
Sure it was a good game to start but like the start of my post, repeat, repeat, repeat.
Sure they have added the odd thing along the way and what game hasnt done this, you play the game because your use to it.
I didnt even bother downloading the demo to proving ground.
SKATE on the other hand, A HUGE THUMBS UP TO EA.
They have really hit the ball outer the park on this one.
Yes there is the odd bug, yes the gameplay might be difficult for most (picked it up quite easily myself)and who cares about a frickin story line. I dont play for a story, I play for the fun.
EA will seriously take down THPS if they continue this way. SKATE 2 which I heard a rumor they wouldnt look at doing if this wasnt succesful, will fix any bugs (not all, no ones perfect) and continue to improve gameplay. Why dont you take the time to email the company with your concerns and pros about both games.
The only way development and advancement is made is by providing feedback and input. Who cares if you come up with the next big thing for a game and get no recognition. Would you rather your idea get implemented with no recognition and have a better overall experiance or keep tight lip and play the same old boring crap.
Good things take time, THPS has had its time and its now a bit like blue vein cheese, too far gone.
SKATE now has the time and I think it has really set the bar high for any skateboarding game to come along and compete.
My 2 cents.


On February 25, 2008 at 3:28 pm

EA skate probably is :evil: better hands down and whoever selse else well… go to hell :evil:


On March 30, 2008 at 5:38 am

Skate is so much better than Tony Hawks.. Im sorry but why the hell would you want an unrealistic game like Tony Hawks. You can grind forever and have to do stupid goals like grind the bird off rails. Like wtf?!?

Thats like buying a shooting game and find you have to drive cars about…

Thumbs up for EA, i never expected them to come up with such a great game as Skate, but im sure glad they did coz its the best game ever! :grin:


On May 22, 2008 at 12:44 am

Ok… well i have to COMPLETELY disagree with all of you pansy ass es thinking that THPS is inferior to EA Skate. Tony Hawk is forever the BEST! The truth is… im lying :mrgreen:

After MONTHS and MONTHS of disiplining my thumb-eye coordination, I am still 100% confident that Skate has been my best investment… ever.

I dont know if it is the realistic physics, the insane amount of rotations variation, or the ever-challenging dynamics; but this game is off the HOOK, and I can admit that Ive lost a girlfriend or two due to my friends’ and I addiction to this work of art.

I have been a skateboarder since the 3rd grade and I cannot help to think that playing this game has helped my perception and creativity while shredding the concrete here in cali. Im seriously going to be playing this on my death bed



On July 10, 2008 at 6:41 am

For starters… The first skategame I ever played was *Skate or Die* on the Commodore64…

After that, I did not play skategames for a long time (just being busy skating for real and doing other stuff like making music and playing other games).
Then, off course; I was introduced by the whole new skategame-era marked by Tony Hawk; which had me really going with skategames at that time.

In a strange way, the insanely unrealistic combos stroke me and made it even fun to play the game and get *better* at it…
I confess I bought almost any TH game there is and without regret, they were worth every penny of it…
That is, off course because we never even could have dreamed of a game so freaking good as *SKATE*…

I play Skate for half a year now and still invent loads of new tricks to perform, lines to ride and objects to grind, jump and *… * on…

Amazingly it never gets old, just like skating itself…

Definetely one of the most realistic sim-games ever (not just skateboarding)…

Bye bye Tony and hello SKATE!!!

Just waiting for SKATE 2 to play the marvel in an even better way (if that is possible)…


On July 28, 2008 at 9:58 am

:shock: omg thpg soooo much better wats wrong wif u guys


On August 26, 2008 at 5:44 pm

THPG got wned wit all these comments not one person sed thpg was better cept da guy on top of me but who gives a bout him, SKATE is genius and way better sorry tony hawk everything has an end