Article written by Blair Inglis.
Published on 16/07/2010 at 04:00 PM.
I used to really enjoy playing skateboarding games but my interest was lost before the more recent Tony Hawk games. Before Skate, I had heard bad things about skateboarding games of recent times, they simply weren’t innovating anymore and had became lacklustre. Then came along Skate; I didn’t get a chance to play the full game, and the sequel somehow slipped past me.
However, I was fully aware that the new control scheme was innovative and these games were a breath of fresh air in a genre that was in desperate need of a reboot. Much like the Tony Hawk games, it would simply be a matter of time before the Skate series was to become stale. It is therefore extremely unfortunate that Skate’s time as king of the skateboarding games has come and gone, and after the third instalment, the genre is becoming uninspired once again.
To put it simply, Skate 3 is a good idea that has been executed badly. You’ve got a large open world filled with parks, industrial areas, buildings and skate parks, which are all filled with ramps and rails to trick off. The area is dotted with challenges ranging from target scores or trick photo shoots to races or contests. Though the world is very open, not much time will be spent exploring as you can start the challenges by simply selecting them from a menu and quick traveling to them. Due to this, the world ends up just feeling like a set of separate locations that you can do challenges, linked together by pointless free roam.
Completing challenges equates to board sales; harder challenges will sell more boards, and you’ll have to do as many of these as possible to reach the target of one million. By selling boards, you unlock more merchandise to dress up your skater, new items to create your own skate park, or new members for your skate team. You can have a total of five members in your skate team, including yourself, and you can either choose to customise each character, or choose one your online friends’ characters.
Seeing your online friends skate around as AI really adds to the game, as it feels as though there’s other skaters out there, and you’re not alone in a big city. Although, these are only AI characters, and you can’t interact with them any more than you can with other citizens of Port Carverton.
The career mode lacks any real story and the target of one million boards can be reached easily. The way the challenges are laid out is an example of an idea being executed badly; you get a list of different modes, and you can choose to do challenges in any order. This means that you’re likely to do the fun challenges first, which leaves you to grind to the end of the career with the more repetitive challenges. Perhaps if Black Box had set the game in multiple areas, and you had to complete all the challenges there to unlock the next set, this problem could have been avoided.
The Hall of Meat challenges are quite literally bone-breakingly good. These challenges are reminiscent of the PSN title PAIN, as you have to skate off a high roof or area and try to cause as much damage to your body as possible, you can tweak your fall with different positions, which make your body glide, torpedo or roll through the air. Certain objectives have to be completed during some of these challenges, such as hitting a specific target or tweaking your fall in a certain way. The Hall of Meat is a great addition to Skate 3 and these are the most fun set of challenges. Unfortunately, only so many are available, and once these are completed, no more will be unlocked.
The online mode is just an extension of the single player challenges; you can choose to do any of these online. For example, the street contests will become team street contests, and you’ll be matched up with another player. This is a form of co-op, but the extra board sales awarded aren’t worth the wait of connecting to online every time you want to complete a challenge. There’s also trick battles, team contests and races that can be played online, also mimicking the single player challenges. The crashes and disconnections during online really take away from the experience, making it even more disappointing.
There is the ability to create your own skate park, but the customisation is quite shallow; it’s nothing compared the terrain altering in ModNation Racers. You’ve got different ramps, pipes, rails and objects to use to create your own skate park, which you can then share online. You can also drop objects into play anywhere in Port Carverton, which can be useful for getting up to high areas, but this feature can’t be used during a challenge, so it becomes pointless. The character customisation is simply picking general items of clothing and putting them on your character, changing hairstyles and adding tattoos; there’s nothing in-depth here, either.
The controls are where the Skate series really shines. Flicking the right stick in different directions offers a variety of board tricks, and when coupled with the use of the back triggers to grab the board, you have an array of tricks that don’t require any button mashing. Off-board controls aren’t as good, the character often falls over from just jumping and the walking doesn’t feel realistic. However, the sounds of the skateboard grinding along a rail or landing on concrete is great, and a good, customisable soundtrack is in place. The game features the voice of Jason Lee as your coach and many more pro-skaters along the way, so you’ll be hearing a lot of “bro” and “dude” as you meet up with them through the career.
Throughout the game, you’ll come across spectators during the contests and you’ll see some scenery outside of the game area, both of these appear to be flat and 2D, and therefore make the game look very ugly. Most of the textures in Skate 3 also look very flat and the environments are dull. The board animations and player animations are fine, but these can sometimes glitch and this takes the realism away. Port Carverton isn’t the prettiest setting for a skateboarding game, and although it may be a big area and feature other skaters, it lacks atmosphere and doesn’t feel as if it is a real, living world.
- Hall of Meat challenges are fun
- Fantastic yet simple controls
- Teams are a good feature
- Short and flawed career mode
- Shallow online and creation modes
- Large game area is mostly pointless
What happened to skateboarding games? The genre used to have the mighty Tony Hawks Pro Skater games, which branched out into other series and decayed through time. Sadly, the same thing has happened with Skate over the past few years. It was a great concept, but the third instalment has disappointed. There really isn’t much depth to be found with Skate 3, due to the short career mode and lacking extra features. Thankfully, the simplistic yet effective controls and the fun to be found in some of the challenges help somewhat. With Skate 3, we see that innovation can only last so long before it becomes uninspired and stale.
Disclaimer: The online share features were not detailed due to the lack of a Skate Share Pack activation code.