Tony Hawk is an iconic brand in both the video gaming and skateboarding worlds. Proving Grounds is the franchise's ninth installment, and direct sequel to Project 8. This year's version sees the Nail-The-Trick feature, introduced in P8, expanded to include Nail-The-Grab, and Nail-The-Manual that increase the flexibility in developing new kinds of tricks. The other new addition is the job system that lets you decide from three different types of skater, each with their own abilities and bonuses. 2007 is the first year that the Tony Hawk franchise has a serious competitor in the skateboarding genre with EA's release of Skate.
Proving Grounds continues the traditional career path found in other Tony Hawk titles with a few twists. You start the beginning of the game a lowly amateur skateboarder, accomplish various tasks and challenges and work your way up the ranks of skateboarding world. The twist comes into play by having three major career paths that you can work towards. Alongside the usual stat upgrades you receive for successfully completing challenges, the career path unlocks new abilities and story lines for you to progress towards. Each role doesn't just change the abilities you unlock, but also the appearance of your skater to reflect the appropriate lifestyle.
- Hardcore - revolves around the kind of skater that does it for himself, and rides "underground" areas shooting videos. Going down this route unlocks the body check ability letting you hit bystanders without falling down yourself.
- Rigger - the skater that sets up new places to skate and builds their own ramps and grind spots. Climbing, park building, and park modding are the abilities unlocked through this path
- Career - takes part in competitions, tries to get on magazine covers, and lives the life of a professional skateboarder. Nail-the-Grab, and Nail-the-Manual are both unlocked in the career path.
Each path is not mutually exclusive to the other, meaning that you can go down multiple paths at the same time unlocking multiple abilities. No matter which route you decide on the story will take you from Philadelphia, to Baltimore, to Washington DC. The cities are inspired by their real world counterparts and contain various well known landmarks to help identify them, and provide more places to skate.
Alongside the main skateboarding areas, each player has a "lounge" which is an area that they can customize themselves. New pieces for customization include skate park items such as rails and ramps, or "pimp" items like plasma tvs. You can invite your online friends to your lounge to see the items you've unlocked, and skate the park that you've created.
New to the series is a full non-linear video editor that is built into the game. You can create a video up to two minutes in length from a combination of up to 20 different clips. Being non-linear you can layer on top a variety of effects and filters to customize the look of the video. The camera angles are completely user driven, and you can even record the path of the camera to simulate various effects like a chopper filming above, or a camera-man following your skater.
Unlike Skate, the replays are limited for playback inside of the game itself. You can share replays online with other people, but they must watch them inside of the game.