It’s very rare to experience a game that challenges our traditional perception of how things should be done for a genre, and reinvents the way we think altogether. EA Box Art's Skate fills a void in our hearts to when the glorious of something old, reinvents the magic of something new. Like all masterpieces, it’s not perfect. Despite this, after playing for countless hours, players will be glorified in the sweat of victory from achieving something so visceral and real. So much so, that going back to the games that changed our definition of genres before---become ordinary.
Forget the Tony Hawk series. The rules of Tony Hawk do not strictly match up to those in Skate. While Skate is not completely prone to unrealistic moves, its physics based engine and remarkable ‘Flickit’ controls transforms the genre into something new and exciting for the player. Skate doesn’t define triumphant feats in the form of grinding for 2 hours straight or leaping 5 buildings with one ollie. Skate is nothing more than a definition of the practical. It’s simple, which makes it richer. In Skate, doing a nollie kick flip while grinding on a rail is heaven. In Skate, not only is the genre redefined but also so is the definition of extraordinary. Players are normal people in a normal setting. No longer does one have to do daredevil unrealistic things that define the extraordinary. They simple have to live for the Skate-ing.
In Skate, the primary revelation of something different presents itself in the form of the Flickit controls. Such controls remove the necessity to touch buttons to perform skating moves. The primary tricks are simple. Use the Right Stick to perform either an ollie or a kick flip. Pull back on the stick and flick it in a C shape to perform a Pop Shuv It. The system is simple, but remains very detailed and accurate. Skate's controls are solely dependent on the physics engine. Pop an ollie, and shift your weight forward and you're going to get a different result had you simply flicked the Right stick at the time. Hold either L2 or R2 to control your hands for grabs. To further kick the subtleties in Skate to a newer level—tweak it by moving around the Right Stick. The primary learning curve of the game, as can be guessed from the nuances in movement, can aggravate players. Luckily, after a while, players will see the beauty in the system when they take in the sense of accomplishment from pulling off amazing tricks. Even though the control system becomes easy to learn after a while, the core of the game itself takes a lot of practice.
Since Skate is primarily grounded in an open-based system, the choices of doing tricks is limitless as long as they are grounded in reality and are executed properly. To perform the cooler movements in Skate, one must find the accurate location, pay attention to timing, and have the determination to get up after splattering their face on the concrete. If you want to do a coffin grind combined with a 50-50 semi at the end of a rail—you have to remain patient. You have to find the right spot, figure out the right timing, and hope that you won’t need new teeth.
Even though the control system is spot on, there are still some issues as mentioned that interfere with performing tricks with the controls. While the game is attentive on physics and realism, you will experience oddities here and there. If you follow a person and do a nollie kick flip into them, you will notice your board goes right through them. As you skate, you might even notice a bit of your foot missing into the board. Players will definitely see at least some oddities that dent the realism and bring up a strong reminder that this is a game, and that reality is not always perfect. In terms of gameplay errors, there are no liptricks or flatland tricks. So sorry folks, there will be no dark sides on the rail this time! A bit of a disappointment, but not too much of a holdback.
You begin on your journey in San Vanelona; an expansive fictional city, which combines 3 primary areas bounded in reality. EA Black Box manages to create a wonderful city with incredible detail. San Vanelona offers various hotspots. San Vanelona is expansive and that’s unforgettable. The air is real, the people are real, and the city is real. The animations are vibrant and are truly adapting. As you move the control precisely, you see the feet of the skater precisely moving as well.
To make the city come alive, the sound scheme is amazing. The background is filled with people discussing their daily lives. Furthermore, the music is superb in its own respect. The blend of a beautiful city coming alive with rich sound and music creates for an unforgettable experience. Luckily, this has its advantages. With the amazing city, comes an amazing atmosphere that promotes true skating. The only limitations in Skate are your board and your imagination. Don’t expect different skill sets per board and what not that complicates things.
Even though the environment is amazing, the cities expanse has an effect on consoles. There are some technical hitches when it comes to loading in areas. Sure, an extensive load time teleporting is expected in some places, but you will also see them in areas where they should not happen. Its not like load times are poured on this game, but markers tend to auto reload if the player goes out of range. Even though the loading is annoying, once these happen, the seamless skating in the city makes it all the more worthwhile.
Skate itself is not so much a journey but a way of right. For countless hours, you can skate and skate and not concern yourself about the missions. It’s up to you. You don’t have to play the career mode. And honestly, it’s not that inventive. But, if you want to unlock a few special locations in the city, you have to play the single player mode.
The career mode basically is the same thing as the Tony Hawk series. You are attempting to become a famous skater by scoring on Thrasher and Skateboard Magazine. You can work your way through both career lines at the same time, choosing between events and leisurely cruises around San Vanelona as you please. The difference between the Thrasher and Skateboard Mag are minimal, but Skateboard Mag is more careers oriented with photo opportunities and what not. Whichever one you choose, you get two sponsorships for. You'll be able to select sponsors for your board, wheels, trucks, and shoes. The chosen sponsor's gear then becomes free to you, but by the time you get to that level---you can afford to throw away cash.
The primary highlight of career mode is mainly the X-Games. The X-Games define the incredible detail Black Box focuses on throughout Skate. Throughout career, the announcer is spot on with the sounds. But when you arrive at the X-Games its actual host greets you. Luckily, Black Box didn’t go overkill on this aspect. The announcers were used at the appropriate time and didn’t force a dull relationship with you.
Lastly, the online community in Skate is amazing. Most gamers want to skate with friends and what not. Along with this, Black Box through in official hosting of 30 second clips on the website. You can watch videos either straight in the game or on the website.
Multiplayer in Skate enables six gamers to a skating extravaganza. There are death races, jams, and skate trick competitions including--skate. Want to skate just for the hell of it and do nothing? Head to free skate mode. Only downside is the city spaces are limited.
Another downside comes in the form of clan formations. Many people have “Crews” - Girl, Hawk, Toy Machine, and the like. Skate does not support a clan function of any sort to define players in a group of their own for videos. A bit of a shame really. Combined with a full city online, it would have made this game nearly perfect.
EA has delivered a revolution in the genre of skateboarding games through Skate. With its unrefined controls, beautiful visuals and a spectacular attention to detail, it quickly becomes an addicting experience that's tough to stop playing, even during some frustrating portions. Though its online modes slightly degrade the experience, the other portions of the game make up for the mistakes. With everything it has to offer, Skate is definitely the best skateboarding game out to date.
-The Final Word-
Skate is the best skateboarding game to date providing realistic simulation type gameplay.
|Platforms reviewed : PlayStation 3|