The EA Skate series’ Flick-it system revolutionised the skateboarding genre on consoles when the first title released a few years ago, essentially hammering the final nail in Tony Hawk’s old and moldy coffin.
As the EA Skate series reached the third release in the series, it now has to deal with the same issues that the Tony Hawk series faced. How big do they go? How much do they add? Do they keep everything the same or change things radically?
We lowered our pants, and refused to take any showers to get into the mind of a skater, hit the jump for our full review.
The story in Skate 3 is a real Academy Award winner. Okay I am completely lying. It’s the same old usual story of your skater destroying himself in the beginning, allowing you to decide what he or she looks like.
The only difference is that in Skate 3, you have created a company and now progress through board sales. Board sales are obtained by doing pretty much anything, and in many ways basically works like a leveling system that also unlocks more attire, decks and activities.
The Flick-It control scheme in Skate 3 is exactly the same as before, with the only addition really being that of a darkslide to your trick list. You still have all the tricks available to you from the start, meaning that you don’t need to unlock moves, it’s all about your own execution, and we like it that way.
Perhaps the largest addition to Skate 3 is the inclusion of difficulty settings. If you are new to the series, you can set the game to easy, allowing you to catch speed easier, land easily, ollie higher and basically auto-lock onto rails when grinding. Normal plays like Skate has always played, but the best of the bunch, the real winner, is the hardcore mode.
For die-hard skate fans, hardcore mode ground the game and brings it back to a level of realism that allows for the most simple of tricks to be appreciated for what they are. You will have to perfectly line up your tricks, do a better job of landing clean and work that bit harder to impress. It may not be everyones cup of tea, but it has definitely solved the issue of alienating the hardcode players from the casuals.
A tutorial skate school run by “Coach Frank” played by the hilarious Jason Lee, is made available to anyone who wants to learn how to play, or even for veterans who just want a refresher or a look at the added tricks.
One major improvement to the game is the overall feel of the controls and their related animations. While the flick-it system has stayed the same, it feels way more natural to hop off of your board and run around, jump, climb etc. This makes life significantly easier when you need to get somewhere quickly, or want to try and catch some speed in a small area to make a big gap.
More significantly better animations have been added to the skaters, not only looking good but allowing for skaters to stumble forwards from botched tricks and try to maintain their footing instead of simply planting into the ground face first every single time. This really keeps the game going a lot smoother, as you are able to run out of many situations if possible instead of buying the farm and waiting to respawn back onto your board.
When it comes to things to do, there is no shortage in Skate 3. The map is absolutely massive and offers an enormous amount of unique locations to skate, all with their own challenges.
Multiplayer has been thrown into the mix of the career mode and is a welcome addition. Almost every challenge can now be done online with friends or even random folks, and adds an additional bonus of board sales when completed online. Along with the usual challanges you are also able to join matches of any type in the online menus, allowing you to create teams and challenge other teams to see who’s the best.
The online capabilities don’t end there though. You can keep yourself really busy by recording replays of yourself, taking photos and even building custom logos to use for your team and decks as well as skateparks and then uploading them for the world to see/use. You can also browse everyone else’s content, try their parks out, watch their videos and every time anything is rated, even more board sales are added.
Unfortunately, a few of the major issues from the previous Skate games have returned. Black Box have done a better job of getting the random people on the streets to dodge your skater, but they still tend to get in the way a lot more than you would like. Worse still, is that in order to give off the effect of a busy town, the game constantly spawns people in the area that you are in. Stay in one area on a challenge for long enough, and suddenly you have a crowd of 6 people standing in front of the exact rail that you are trying to grind.
There is also the issue of having segments of the map load one at a time. Set a spawn marker across the street from a ramp sometimes, and you may have to load every single time just to go back to the point 40 meters back.
Visually, Skate 3 looks no different from Skate 2. The framerate is nice and high for the most part, but expect a bit of inconsistency here and there when skating around. The world in its entirety is very impressive though, with a massive draw distance that helps you realise just how much of a playground you are in, and that adds to the overall presentation.
The sound and music in Skate 3 really is one of its best features, the spinning wheels, the cracking bones and the caters-to-everyone soundtrack all do a great job of pleasuring your ears at all time (and thank goodness, that annoying moron who always has a comment doesn’t flap his yap anymore).
While Skate 3 offers a massive and highly playable skateboarding game, it doesn’t add a ton of new content to the offering in Skate 3. As far as skateboarding games go, it’s the best out there but for those who aren’t huge fans of skateboarding or don’t have online, it may get a little tired a little quick.
If however, you love skateboarding for what it is and especially if you go for the hardcore realism setting, you will be in heaven. The games locations are like skate-porn, and the simple ability to spend more than an hour in one location tricking out and finding good lines will be more than enough to feed your need for a sublime skating experience.
For fans of: EA Skate, Tony Hawks Pro Skater, Amped
Scoring (not an average)
The same good system, with minor improvements.
Looking a bit dated, and non HD-resolution is a little blurry. Framerate hiccups often.
Great use of sound, and a well picked soundtrack. Voice acting can be wooden at times (Jason Lee not included).
Plenty to do, even while just free skating. Online multiplayer and free skate adds to the already long list of activities.
EA has delivered the goods with Skate once more. Let’s just hope that if we ever see a Skate 4, that it delivers a new engine and a fresh perspective. Casuals who already own Skate 2 may want to have a good think before spending more money.
[Reviewed on Playstation 3]
Last Updated: May 19, 2010