Skate 3

For years, the skateboarding genre was dominated by the Tony Hawk's brand, which went practically unchallenged on Playstation 2, aside from the threat of EA Big's SSX snowboarding brand. On PS3, the Hawk series has continued along a path that takes it further and further from what made the genre so much fun, while the newcomer, Skate, accelerates towards a perfect blend of pure skating, challenge and enjoyment. Forget the side rubbish like graffiti, forget novelty accessories and forget unrealistic gimmick moves designed to make things more extreme. The Skate series peels things back to the roots of skateboarding, with a purity of gameplay that reaches a new level of perfection with Skate 3.

Skate 3

The key to Skate's success is the control method, which forces the player to understand and appreciate every move you can pull off. It's not a case of pushing a few simple, unrelated buttons in sequence to cause a dazzling display of acrobatics. In Skate, every jump, flip, plant, grab and grind is felt by the player, with controls that are undeniably linked to their physical counterparts. Take for example a simple kickflip. To perform the move, players pull down on the right analog stick, causing the in-game character to crouch. Holding this pose for a moment, you begin to feel the skater coil as they prepare for whatever move you attempt. To jump, you'd simply flick the right stick up, mimmicking (on a small scale) the spring of a real-life skater. A subtle flick to one side during this motion causes the board to flip under your skater's feet, resulting in a kickflip.

Initially, this may all seem a little bewildering, in that such fine controls are okay on their own, but how do you perform such a move when you're travelling at speed, heading towards a complex jump which will deposit you on a narrow rail that ends abruptly over a dangerous ledge with only a slender ramp to safely traverse? The answer is that, as a new starter, you'll find that very hard, but with every move you make in Skate 3, you learn something new, uncover a new trick or a new way of approaching an obstacle, or perhaps manage to perform more operations in each run with increasing familiarity. This is most noticeable when attempting the game's Own the Spot challenges, hidden away across the enormous free-roaming town of Carverton. Though the whole landscape is designed as a skater's paradise, there are certain areas which warrant miniature competitions where players attempt to beat a particular score using certain parts of the town. As you progress through the near-infinite learning curve, you discover new ways to squeeze an extra hundred points from your attempts, getting one extra fingerflip in or just an extra 180 degrees of rotation. The scope for improvement is incredible, as it should be, meaning that you could play the game for years and still find ways to improve. The stick-flick control style is also the source of one minor complaint though: certain moves (like the ambiguously-named 360 flip) can seem extremely difficult to perform, not because of the difficulty of the trick itself, but because every attempt seems to lead to a manoeuvre named anything but the one you're trying. You'll get there eventually, so it's not a major issue, and to help the situation, it seems the developers were aware of the issue, since few challenges call for specific named manoeuvres (instead favouring a class of move).

Skate 3

Of course, fancy moves and a decent difficulty curve aren't everything. Skate's success also rests on the exciting open worlds created. Carverton features everything a skater might wish to see, with empty swimming pools in residential areas, rails and steps at the university, monster skate parks, quarries and more. Everywhere you look, there's a skating line waiting to be tested. It can be irresistable too. Even if you're deliberately heading somewhere, it's very easy to get distracted by the temptation of one more perfect move. If you want to avoid the risk, the game's menus make it very easy for you to quickly travel to any location on the map, either straight into a challenge or just into a local free skate. The downside is that it makes it all too easy to go from event to event, just like the linear experiences of the past, without ever truly getting a feel for Carverton. Players could easily miss large chunks of the town simply by using the game's quick travel.

The events themselves are reason enough to turn up though, with toybox-style competitions like Own The Lot, where players are required to meet a series of challenges in a set area, demonstrating a range of skills, Tranny contests, with massive halfpipes and ramps, and even Hall of Meat contests, a bizarre alternative allowing players to bail at great heights, causing as much damage as possible as they fall. The latter is fun for a while, but the main challenge of the game lies with the normal skate challenges and contests, most of which have separate criteria to "own" them, and harder tasks to "kill" them. Many can also be played online, either cooperatively as a team, or competitively between individual or team rivals. It's surprising fun, meeting as a group to take on challenges, providing a welcome break from the normal FPS online modes.

Skate 3

The game is packed with other features worthy of mention. For new players, there are plenty of training modes to try (although a notable absence is the method of chaining tricks with manuals, which can be critical for the biggest moves); there's also a skate park creater tool, video and picture uploads, skater and skateboard customization, as well as racing modes for skaters keen to demonstrate their raw speed. It's an impressive package overall, offering a lot to fans of skating. There's still a little room for improvement to encourage players to get more out of trick chains, and the individual flips could be tightened up a little to allow players to distinguish the moves more clearly. That said, it's the best skateboarding game of the generation, and one of the best of all time. Fans of the genre will love the purity, the learning curve and the "just one more go!" feeling the game encourages. All players will enjoy something new and fresh in this game, especially if you haven't tried earlier entries in the series.

Game details

Game logo

Publisher:

Electronic Arts

Developer:

EA Black Box

Players:

1

Online:

1-8

Release:

2010-05-14

Trophies:

69

Review summary

Gameplay:

Pure skating thrills and a perfect difficulty curve

Graphics:

A beautiful city to explore and neat animations

Sound:

Decent music and effects, but tiring voicework

Lastability:

Masses of challenges and events to take part in

9.1

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