|System: X360, PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: EA Black Box||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Electronic Arts||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: May 11, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2 (6 Online)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by J. Matthew Zoss
March 3, 2010 - Ever since the original Skate was released in 2007, the EA franchise has been the dominant series in the skateboarding game genre. Both of the Skate games have outsold their competitors in the Tony Hawk franchise and been granted higher review scores in the gaming press. After the poor critical reception of Tony Hawk RIDE, the next Skate game would likely still come out ahead of the Activision series even if developer EA Black Box delivered a phoned-in sequel. Fortunately, that doesn't appear to be the case. The Skate series is returning this May with a new city to shred and a whole new gameplay focus: co-op shredding.
Skate 3 ditches the story and setting of the first two Skate games and replaces them with the new city of Port Carverton. Unlike the previous setting, the skater-hostile San Vanelona, Port Carverton is a skateboarding-friendly city, designed around being as shred-able as possible. It's even full of monuments to famous skaters like Don "Mad Carver" Hartley, the Canadian skateboarding legend from which Port Carverton takes its name. A skater's paradise like Port Carverton is the perfect place to build your name into a legendary skateboarding brand, and that's exactly what you'll be doing in Skate 3. The more you play, the more your fame will grow and the more you'll see your brand around the city. But no one can build a brand on their own, which is where your teammates come in.
Whether you're playing online or offline, you'll never be alone in Skate 3. Just like how real skaters are always hanging with their friends, you'll spend your time with your crew in the game. The main career mode matches you up with AI buddies, but only if you don't have friends online to play with you. The entire career mode is built around co-op play, and if you play with friends, everyone in the game will get credit for any in-game goals the group completes. If you don't have friends playing the game and don't want to play with computer-controlled characters, EA Black Box has built-in tools to help you find a crew in need of your particular skating skills.
Of course, not everyone will feel confident teaming up with a bunch of strangers right away. That's why Black Box has also put a lot of time into making Skate 3 the most accessible Skate game yet. There's now a selectable difficulty setting, so new players can get assistance with basic moves and skilled players can experience an even more realistic game. There's also a new "Skate School" feature in which new players can get gameplay lessons from Coach Frank, a helpful instructor voiced by actor/skater Jason Lee. A few other tweaks help complete the package, such as a more customizable camera that lets the players see further in front of them.
Once you get comfortable with your solo skating skills, there are a wide variety of competitive online modes to check out. Like the story mode, the competitive game modes still revolve around teams, and include game types such as Domination, in which two teams compete to "own" designated spots by performing the highest-scoring tricks at the location. In another mode, called One Up, the two teams take turns doing tricks for 60 seconds until one team can't top the other's score. But, if anyone on your team bails, your round ends early, so you'd better be sure everyone in your crew knows what they're doing. A third game type, called Own the Lot, challenges both teams to complete three random gameplay challenges in the area, with the team that finishes all three first winning the round.
Along with the new multiplayer modes and co-op focus, Skate 3 also features obligatory new moves - in this case, darkslides and underflips. Neither of these new moves are a huge addition to the franchise's roster of moves, but Skate 3 has so much added content that it's doubtful any players will feel cheated. After all, if you want more content on top of everything that the game has to offer, you can make your own. Not only will you be able to take photos to put into your own billboards and posters, you'll also be able to build your own skate parks. Once you've created your ideal skating spot, you can even upload it and share it with all the other Skate players out there. This new feature is just one final way that EA Black Box is refocusing the franchise on social skating. After all, what's the point in pulling off sick tricks if no one is around to see it?
J. Matthew Zoss
CCC Freelance Writer