Platform: Xbox 360
In the world of pro skateboarding, there’s always some cocky unknown kid coming up from nowhere, bidding to blow away the established stars using sheer outrageous trick-power. In the world of skateboarding videogames, Skate was once that new kid on the block – but with Skate 3, it has honed its skills to such a huge peak of perfection that it’s now the undisputed master.
So what’s it like?
Format-wise, it’s reassuringly familiar – you design your skater (using an awesomely powerful editor), and a logo, then you’re unleashed into the fantasy skaters’ paradise otherwise known as the city of Port Carverton. Forget reconstructed bits of real cities – Port Carverton is what you’d get if skaters planned cities – it’s huge, vertical and diverse, with skate parks galore, the biggest multi-storey car park you’ve ever seen, a deliciously rusty abandoned shipyard, all manner of overblown architectural features begging to be skated on, plus rails and stairs everywhere. No wonder, then, that it’s full of virtual versions of all the world’s top skaters – you’ll recognise the likes of Ryan Smith, Rob Dyrdek (star of the reality show Rob And Big), Chris Cole, Joey Brezinski, Dennis Busenitz and pretty much all of their peers. Port Carverton is so skater-friendly that even the security guards skate.
No shortage of challenges
After an insane intro movie, in which you see the process by which trees become skateboards, your mission begins: to sell as many skateboards as possible by inspiring skaters with your antics. There are vast numbers of challenges which allow you to do this, and of several types. To be specific: Deathrace, Film, Hall Of Meat, Own The Lot, Own The Spot, Photo, Pros, Team Promos, Street Contests, Training and Tranny Contests. Within those basic categories, there is plenty of variation – in the Pro challenges, for example, you might have to track a pro as he heads to a new spot without falling behind, nail a specific trick on a specific object, or take him on at a game of 1-Up, in which you vie to land the highest-value tricks in a series of timed runs.
For us, particular highlights are the Street Contests, which mix highest-value trick sequences with timed jams in which both teams occupy the street-furniture at once, and the vastly improved Hall Of Meat, in which you have incredible fine control over your body positioning once you’ve bailed, and some awe-inspiring vertical drops from which to break every virtual bone in your body. The Own The Lot challenges, in which you have to pull of lists of specific tricks, are a great test of your skills, too.
Skating is a sociable pursuit and, for the first time, Skate 3 reflects that, with a bunch of seriously cool features allowing you to play it with your mates – helping each other out with your career progressions – and against other teams. Even offline, you get to build a skate team as you pass board-sale milestones – or you can draft in your mates to tackle those team challenges together. And you can build a team comprised entirely of your online mates. Skate.Feed lets you keep tabs on all your team-mates and rivals, social network-style. And Skate.Create has been expanded – along with Skate.Reel, for capturing your team’s exploits on celluloid and Skate.Graphics for defining your team’s look, there’s an all-new app called Skate.Park, which, as you might imagine, lets you and your homies generate the ultimate skate park.
What else is new?
Too much to detail here, that’s for sure. But there are new tricks to master – notably darkslides and underflips, both of which are very cool indeed. Underflips are when you catch a flip and flip it the other way, and in darkslides, you grind rails with the board upside-down – see you need to flip off the rail in order to land them. Also new is Skate.School, which lets you hone your skills before hitting the streets (under the tutelage of Coach Frank, who looks like a tennis coach but doesn’t sound like one).
Skate 3 is massive, meaty and amazing to behold, and there’s no doubt that the immaculately conceived and constructed Port Carverton (if it really existed, nobody but skaters would want to live there) takes centre-stage. The two-stick control system is as smooth and intuitive as ever, as you would expect. But one aspect that really stands out is the game’s impeccable mixing of the realistic and the fantastic – its tricks are believable and flow naturally from your finger-movements, and thanks to the new online team elements, you really can lead a vicarious virtual skating life. But then there are the aspects which are simply better than real life, such as the hilariously masochistic Hall Of Meat or the huge ramps and vertical drops which let you take advantage of life-threatening amounts of air. Whether you spend half your life on a skateboard, or just dream of doing so, you will love it.
The most realistic skater sim is more accessible than ever
|Play online co-operatively or compete with others|
|New tricks, new game modes and new challenges abound|
|Put together your own crew of top skating talent|
This sequel mixes things up with a whole new city to explore and two new play modes. One makes it easier than ever for first time players to get on board and the other ramps up the difficulty for a truly hardcore experience.
As you put together a crew of real friends or in-game pro skaters you can take on challenges wherever you find them, in new co-operative modes like Own The Lot or in competitive classics like the bone-crunching Hall of Meat. And whatever you do you can use the replay editor to record it all and show off about it later.Key Features