Good Enough to Shred Again
The first thing you need to know about Skate 3 is that this is a massive game filled to the gills with compelling skater-based content. Whether you want epic, varied terrain, deep creation and customization tools, robust online play, or cool challenges, this game has it all. What’s more, if you’re an analog stick trick veteran, you’ll love the familiar, realistic-feeling control scheme. If you haven’t been following the Skate series, however, get ready to devote hours mastering the inputs; this game definitely has a steep learning curve. Put in the time, though, and you’re in for a hefty treat of skating goodness.
Skate 3 is nothing if not varied, and that certainly includes the diverse environments in which you’ll skate. Ditching San Vanelona for the greener, more northerly shredding pastures of Port Carverton, Skate 3 gives players the ideal setting for great skating fun. Port Carverton oozes quality hits, grinds, and lines strewn across the vibrant city. You’ll be able to skate your way around the college district scaring co-eds, thrash about the umpteen skate parks, travel from zone to zone enjoying the many long, well put-together skate lines, visit the downtown and leave your mark on the buildings and businesses, head to the docks and startle the tourists, and even take in the floral beauty of the Memorial Gardens. Having fun in Skate 3 and taking advantage of the unique characteristics found in each area is one of the best aspects of this title.
Another great facet is the way in which players are rewarded for their efforts. Whereas in Skate 2 you were struggling to leave your mark on the scene, here you’re already a known quantity. Building upon your hard-earned fame, you’ll now set out to start your own team and brand, selling as many boards as you can. What better way to improve your worldwide brand recognition than by promoting your company through winning competitions and ballsy skating. The better, cleaner you skate, and the more difficult the challenges you best, the higher multipliers you’ll achieve, translating into serious board sales – reach a million units shifted and you own the skating scene.
In all, there are over two dozen challenge types in Skate 3 that run the gamut from the HORSE-like “Skate”, “Follow the Leader” (learn new, sick lines), and “Deathrace” (get to the finish first by any means possible) to “Film” (get great footage for promotional purposes), “Hall of Meat” (break as many bones as you can while pulling off massive bails), and organized “Contests” (pro events with varied formats). The diverse challenges, married with the ability to roam the open-world and free skate at your leisure means there’s loads to do while playing solo.
Naturally, completing all the objectives in these challenge means you “Owned” them, netting you notoriety and lots of board sales. But, if you really want to up the ante, you’ll have to try and “Kill” the challenges. Killing a challenge requires utter precision in the execution of the tasks at hand. Getting a “Kill” grade can be incredibly trying at times, so thankfully you’ll be able to go back to any “Owned” challenge and retry it in order to get the “Kill.” Both “Owned” and “Killed” ranks will open up new challenges, reveal more pros, and unlock new gear, but killing challenges will add up over time to get you ridiculous board totals. Best of all, this dual-tiered ranking system allows both skilled and not-so-skilled virtual skaters to be duly rewarded for their efforts.
In addition to being rewarded for your technical ability to skate, you’ll also achieve board sales for letting your creative juices flow. Skate 3 has an extremely rewarding, user-friendly skate park creator and even photo and video editors. While capturing footage is likely only great for hardcore players, building a park through the editor is great for anyone. Because there are tons of different terrain pieces you can use and earn through challenges, plus there are a number of props such as rails and benches to position, you set up and create the perfect lines, truly leaving your mark on the game. Once you’re finished creating, you can invite friends to join in on free skate sessions to test out your creation, and you can upload your parks to the EA servers in order to have people download them for their own use – the more downloads, the more board sales you’ll get. Best of all, this means there will be essentially limitless, cleverly made terrain parks for you to download to keep your experience fresh.
I loved the “sell-boards-to-improve-your-score” mechanic. Though board sales, on the surface, are essentially interchangeable with standard point tallies, it ends up providing a convincing flavor to the game that is carried on and nicely incorporated throughout it. After several hours of gameplay, you’ll still want to shred around Port Carverton simply because there are boards to be sold – it really feels like you’re the head of a company, but rather than fudging numbers and staying under the SEC’s radar, you’ll just have to link sweet tricks and pull off varied lines.
Certainly the single-player side of Skate 3 is great, but the game really comes into its own when you head online. Skate 3 offers the most robust online features of any skating game ever. Whether starting a team of your own or joining an existing one, Skate 3 players are able to compete against others and cooperatively best online challenges. The online options include ranked and unranked as well as Team and Career modes.
Joining a team online is much like joining a guild or clan in an RPG or shooter title. Being part of this team will give you access to all the team’s content as well as allow you to create and upload content of your own to help represent the team. Joining up with team members will not only net you additional board sales, but it essentially opens up a whole other set of gameplay challenges, doubling the content and boosting the play value through the roof. For those that aren’t so interested in joining a team or establishing a persistent online presence, just being able to call on a buddy to skate with you and complete challenges cooperatively is a worthy feature in its own right.
Presentation in Skate 3 is quite good. I already discussed the diverse and beautiful environments, but the skaters also look great and the move animations are typically very smooth. I especially liked the game’s opening, live-action cinematic – it’s hilarious and nicely sets the tone for the rest of the game. In terms of sounds, the collection of pro skaters and actors in Skate 3 do a remarkable job of voicing the characters, and the music selection is truly top-notch – being able to replay and skip through tracks on-demand via the D-pad is a great feature.
It’s true that Skate 3 pretty much has it all. However, new players to the Skate franchise should know that the right analog stick governs nearly all tricks, with subtle tweaks coming into play from the face-buttons. This makes for a decidedly steep learning curve, especially if you cut your teeth on the Tony Hawk Pro Skater series back in the 90s. Unlike Tony Hawk games, Skate is more or less realistic. As such, keeping momentum (speed), linking tricks, and finding the best lines is often quite a task. While this several hour trial by fire may turn many people off, if you stick with the controls, you’ll eventually get it and be richly rewarded with awesome gameplay. Overall, I’d say Skate 3’s controls are both its greatest asset and worst feature; the realistic feel makes the game sublime, but you’ll have to work hard to even get competent.
Skate 3 does suffer somewhat from familiarity (the gaming community is just about skating-gamed out) and it isn’t pick-up-and-play easy, but this certainly is an excellent entry in the genre that rewards technical ability, presents a beautiful open-world to romp around in, foments a true community experience like no other title, and even gives players a creative outlet. Overall, this is a great game that deserves to be in your collection, assuming you’re in the market for a virtual skater.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.0 Graphics
This is a good looking game through and through. The environments are particularly enjoyable. 3.7 Control
Tough one to grade! Some people will undoubtedly find pulling off advanced tricks to be too difficult to enjoy. Skate veterans and patient gamers are be rewarded with a more realistic take on the skating genre. 4.6 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The voice acting is hilarious and well executed. The musical selection is simply excellent. 4.8 Play Value
There’s more content here than you could shake a stick at. What’s more, it is all incredibly well put-together; from the single-player career to deep customization and truly robust online play. 4.2 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.