The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
I have to hand it to EA and developer Black Box. They’ve once again delivered a game that serves up dish after dish of the thing that makes a good game so addicting: gameplay. Building off the momentum of two previous releases, Skate 3 incrementally adds to the formula with a new career style, park editor, and a few new tricks for good measure. And while this third entry makes no remarkable changes, consistency is a good thing in this case, rewarding dedicated players of the series.
Instead of following the tired idea of being a pro that’s building up a career and sponsors, players assume the role of a new skateboard company owner. Not only do you start out by customizing your player, but your company, too. My company, Pants Stealers, eventually grew to the point where I had sold over a million boards and recruited a few AI teammates. While a lot of it seems like just another version of previous career modes, there are a few breakout features that make Skate 3 stand out – most notably in the online component. Not only can players join other companies online, there are full stats, player profiles, and even job-specific roles like street skater or filmer. You can also earn board royalties if other people download your custom content like videos, images, and parks.
Speaking of parks, my favorite new feature is the custom park creator. If Port Carverton, the new fictional setting for Skate 3, isn’t enough, you can go into one of the many dedicated skate parks, tear everything down, and start from scratch. A huge set of tools, extremely deep options, and a large selection of objects mean that creative users will undoubtedly come up with some amazing designs. Of course, these can be shared with the world for download. I was impressed with the real-world physics objects like ramps and rails that once placed, can be moved around by other skaters in-game just like they would in a real city. Because the gameplay in Skate is so solid, this adds a level of replayability that rivals other content creation-focused games like LittleBigPlanet.
Online also returns with many of the previous games’ features like freeskate and proposing challenges. But with the addition of teams, online companies can battle it out in modes like Spot Battle and Hall of Meat. The number of things to do online is staggering. Almost all of the challenges from single player are available online to be played in either group co-op or versus. While it’s not structured like a proper career, players could effectively run through the whole game online together as a team.
I think Skate 3’s biggest strength is its ability to deliver smooth, fun gameplay that fits like a glove. New tricks like the underflip and darkslide throw in a little flair. If you’re a fan, Skate 3 is a sure thing; if you’re just starting out, it’s even better. New character Coach Frank, played by actor and pro skateboarder Jason Lee, will walk you through the basics. Black Box has also added in difficulty settings, which helps new players avoid frustration by saving more challenge for veteran boarders. The physics have been tweaked to be even more realistic, and better emulate the trials and tribulations of real-world skating.
Black Box has once again sucked me back into the world of kickflips and hip tricks. The Skate series’ focus on what’s important means gamers can pick up a copy with a sense of confidence that they will get what they pay for. While this latest title doesn’t take any huge risks, I would argue that’s a good thing. Skate has always been one of those rare games where you can just aimlessly play with no goals or objectives. With the addition of the park creator, this is only increased with the limitless possibility of player-created content.
It’s always better to skate with friends, but which kind? Online or offline? The crew at developer Black Box has created a whole new city for you to terrorize, but the bulk of Skate 3’s innovations occur in the online space. Exchanging user-created parks and tackling challenges with your teammates opens up the game to all sorts of possibilities that you have to explore. Unfortunately, the offline career mode where you recruit team members and try to push your skate company to the top doesn’t excite. I didn’t get the sense that I was really building anything. When one of your reoccurring challenges is to do any three tricks anywhere, you’re not shooting very high (and axing the Team Film challenges from Skate 2’s Freeskate isn’t cool either). Despite this, the new addictive and objective-based Hall of Meat challenges are great. Skate 3 is still a deep and fulfilling experience, but like the search for any good skate spot, you have to know where to look.