Skate, marketed as (skate.), is a skateboarding game developed by EA Black Box for the PlayStation 3 and XBox 360. Skate was a smash hit and brought a fresh taste to the skateboarding game genre. For years the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series dominated the skate game market; hell it was pretty much the only game out there, then suddenly in 2007 EA released Skate and it completely blew us away.
The game starts with you skating around in the grand city of San Vanelona, being filmed by one of your mates, then out of nowhere… You’re hit by a truck. That’s right, you get creamed. It proceeds to show a hilarious opening video, full of gags and showing off the various pro skaters that appear in the game. You wake up in hospital where you go on to adjust your characters appearance and skating style, because apparently hospitals nowadays need to know whether you’re “Regular” or “Goofy”. The character generator is fine, there is a selection of hair and you can adjust your figure, fat and thin and whatnot. However it seems lacking when compared to games like Tony Hawks, where the Skater Creator is very deep, it seems kinda empty. However there’s a lovely selection of clothes to choose from.
The game’s visuals are excellent, but then again, so are most games nowadays. With the sheer power of today’s consoles its not often you’ll find a bad looking game. But the scenery and city of San Vanelona look fantastic, its a city of life, buzzing with cars and skaters around every corner. The game is shown almost through the lens of a camera, soft textures and sheer scenic depth make the game feel even more realistic. Your character looks great, with the detail on clothes down to every stitch, of course your characters looks is all down to personal taste. Unfortunately for women there’s no option to be female in Skate so they may be disappointed. The body and skateboard physics are fantastic, when you bail your skater goes flying in an explosion of broken bones and splinters. It’s far more satisfying than it should be.
The soundtrack in Skate is great, the same as most skateboarding games. It holds music that really shows the essence of skateboarding, Skate boasts 45 great songs from some of the most influential and celebrated music artists out there including Booker T & The MG’s, Nirvana, N.W.A,The Ramones and The Sex Pistols. The game also features 18 exclusive tracks from mixing mastermind XXXChange, skateboarding’s very own legend, Tommy Guerrero, as well as other world renowned DJs.
The one thing that defines Skate is the control system, its like no other skateboarding game before it. Ea’s “Flick It” control system immerses you in the extreme sport more than ever more. You use the analogue sticks to control the skateboard, pulling and pushing in various directions and combinations with other parts of the controller to launch ollies, nollies, grabs, manuals and flip tricks and other tricks. Mid air spins and trick rotations are pulled off in the same manner. Grinds require you to ollie and position the board in the air using the analogue sticks to land on the rail, position it differently for different grinds.
You can perform trick lines (combos) by tricking in sequence without letting the multiplier meter run out. Unlike the Tony Hawks games, your skills as a skateboarder do not progress or change as you play through the game, attributes such as trick ability or balance are are all down to your skill with your thumbs, and every trick is available from the beginning of the game.
You progress through the game slowly, starting as just another skater you build up reputation by participating in photo shoots and challenges. The main aim is to get coverage in the two magazines in the game, Skateboarding Magazine, and Thrasher, both with their unique quirks. Video challenges play a big part in the game as well, pulling off specific tricks and scores in 30 second time limits.
Skate is a great game, however as EA’s first dive into the genre it was bound to have a few faults. The difficulty curve is all over the place, some challenges are extremely difficult early on in the game, before you even get the hang of the controls, and you’ll spend hours trying to do the video challenges, which can be very frustrating. The camera angle is sub-par, shown from a ground perspective, you often miss kerbs and oncoming traffic which can ruin lines needed to pass those bad ass challenges. The inability to get off the board can be very annoying when trying to get to specific spots but part from these minor faults its a great game.
The multiplayer is sound, compete with your friends in games of S.K.A.T.E or have one on one competitions on specific spots to see who can obtain the highest score, unfortunately there is no option to free skate in multiplayer, an option that you’ll greatly miss. The online is fair too, skate about in an online lobby till you find someone to play against.
Skate is a refreshing taste of virtual skating that we haven’t experienced before, if you enjoy Tony Hawks games I highly recommend you pick this title up, or at least rent it, you’ll fall in love with the control scheme and the “Flick It” controls come naturally. Fantastic visuals and music leave you immersed in the skating culture and the feel of the game is amazing. Skate crushes Tony Hawk into the dust.
Reviewer’s note: The Playstation 3 version was tested for this review
Great visuals, slightly hampered by dodgy camera angles
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Great control scheme, like nothing you've experienced before
Sweet tunes that will keep you playing the game
Even in free skate its alot of fun
Fantastic game which revives the skating genre