While Activision was busy driving its Tony Hawk Pro Skater franchise into the ground, Electronic Arts quietly snuck in with its own title and stole the old pro’s crown. Skate was everything the Tony Hawk series was not, with true “next-gen” visuals and a fresh set of controls that put a new spin (or “flick,” as it were) on the genre.
Skate 3 (PlayStation 3 [reviewed], Xbox 360)
Fans of the series should know from the jump that the basics of the Skate formula haven’t changed much, with the exception of a few new tricks, including darkslides and underflips. The game’s "Flickit" control scheme remains intact, with all of the most basic skate moves mapped to the controller’s right analog stick. The idea is to simulate how a real skater would move his or her body weight and feet on a board -- you pull back on the stick to lean weight backwards, and then flick up and forward to “kick up” and perform an ollie, for instance. Combinations of flick directions and button presses result in a variety of moves, all of which --much like real skating -- require skill and timing, all of which comes with practice.
Of course, how much fun there is to have is up to the player in Skate 3. In reality, a skateboard by itself isn’t all that exciting; it’s really just a piece of wood with some wheels on it. You could simply push it around with your foot while sitting on a couch, which no doubt would get old quick. Or you could get off your ass and find some crazy places to trick on. Or take it to the next level and build something for yourself. With Skate 3's tools, the posibilities are potentially endless.
It would have been silly for EA to completely overhaul the already-solid Skate engine for this third installment, so it’s really no surprise that the game does share quite a few similarities with its predecessors. But there’s no mistake that Skate 3 simply isn’t a rehash of what’s coming before. The create and share features offer up so much potential that EA may have presented a problem for itself. There’s really no need for a new Skate game next year... you’re going to be playing this one for a long, long time.
Score: 8.5 -- Great (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.)
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