It used to be that of the two big skateboarding franchises, Skate was the serious simulator. However, thanks in large part to a major misstep by Activision (in which they may have seriously damaged the good name of their Tony Hawk franchise), it looks like Skate 3 may be the only serious skateboarding game to consider in 2010.
It's important to note right off the bat that Electronic Arts hasn't made any major fundamental changes to Skate's core gameplay. Skate 3 does not come with a fake plastic skateboard or a new set of buttons to learn. This hardcore simulator hasn't been magically turned into a fast-action arcade-style extreme sports game. No, this is the same basic game you played in 2007 and 2009. Thankfully the developers at EA Black Box have managed to add enough compelling content (both online and off) to make this third installment well worth checking out.
Are you new to the world of Skate? Don't worry, Jason Lee (yes, the guy from Mallrats and My Name is Earl) is here to teach you how to play. Unlike the older Tony Hawk games, Skate has you using the two analog sticks instead of the more traditional face buttons. The left stick controls your movement, while the right stick allows you to pull off moves. For example, if you hold back and then jam the right analog stick up, your character will perform an ollie. Experimenting with all sorts of angles and directions will allow you to find new moves, all of which you will need to master if you want to see the exciting conclusion.
Skate 3's story plays out much like the first two installments. The game opens with your character attempting to pull off the world's craziest move. You fail. You regain consciousness only to discover that there's a fellow skater hovering over your motionless body. Without you even saying a word, this guy talks you into starting your own skateboard business and team. And with that, you're swept off to learn how to master your craft, tackle a variety of events, meet tons of real life skateboarders and play out the same basic storyline of the first two games. At times it felt like the only meaningful difference was that your progress is now counted in skateboard sales. Not that I'm complaining, I had no problems jumping right back in to this brand new Skate game.
Big changes have come to Skate. Don't worry, the changes aren't as drastic as giving you a fake plastic skateboard. The first thing you'll notice is that Skate no longer takes place in San Vanelona. It has been replaced by Port Carverton, a skate-friendly paradise where the cops don't chase you and everything is open from the get-go. This new environment is a welcome addition; after three console games (including Skate It for the Nintendo Wii), San Vanelona was getting a little overplayed. We needed a change of scenery, and Skate 3 definitely delivers in that department.
While the game's story is structured in much the same way as Skate 1 and 2, the developers have gone back and taken out a few of the events that didn't work and tweaked the ones that did. Gone are some of the more annoying single-player modes, such as S-K-A-T-E. This was the mini-game that forced players to duplicate difficult to pull off moves and combinations. It has been replaced with a more user friendly game called 1up. In this mode you take turns trying to beat each other's score. It's worth noting that the S-K-A-T-E mode has not been completely removed, fans can still revisit it in the online mode.
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