Games

Skate 3

The real treat here for longtime Skate players though is the hardcore mode, which makes an already challenging game even more so.


Skate 3

Publisher: Electronic Arts
Players: 1-6
Price: $59.99
Platform: Playstation 3 (reviewed), Xbox 360
ESRB Rating: Teen
Developer: EA Black Box
Release Date: 2010-05-11
URL

The original Skate was clearly offered as an alternative to a long stagnating Tony Hawk franchise. When it was released in the fall of 2007, Skate represented a refreshing change of pace from the over the top, arcade oriented gameplay and presentation that Tony Hawk had been serving up for far too long. Hawk's control scheme was relatively simple, and its tricks and presentation kept getting wackier, making for a once beloved series that people eventually bought mostly because there was no alternative. In this landscape, Skate represented a wonderfully stripped down take on the skateboarding genre. Further, the "flick it" control scheme of Skate was fairly revolutionary at the time, as was the challenging but rewarding notion that all possible tricks were available from the beginning, it being up to the practice and patience of the player to pull them each off.

Frankly, it was always a little surprising to me that a title as unique as the original Skate came to us from Electronic Arts, a company with the capacity to publish enjoyable games, but one that also tends to largely gravitate towards products with either blockbuster or annual release potential, often both. Skate represented EA trying something new while also, ironically, taking a swipe at a stagnant juggernaut franchise. Since the release of Skate less than three years ago, we've seen a full blown sequel, as well as Wii, DS, and mobile phone versions. Now, Skate 3 comes to us, and while there are some changes and additions from previous entries in the series, more substantive modifications would have been welcome, given that Skate 2 is little more than a year old.

Among the features that sets it apart from its predecessors, Skate 3 attempts to increase the focus on team dynamics, bringing the concept of FPS style clans to the franchise. The team challenges are interesting, and online it works fairly well. What's unfortunate is that offline multiplayer has been removed, meaning that one of your teammates can't be sitting on the couch next to you. Also new to Skate 3 are a park editor and the ability to complete single player objectives while online.

Perhaps most importantly, Skate 3 features an adjustable difficulty level, a first for the series. This seems clearly to be an effort to make the title more appealing to a variety of gamers. Normal difficulty is akin to the level of challenge posed by the previous Skate titles. Easy is intended for series newcomers, and in this mode, the physics are simply much more forgiving. You ollie higher and the window for successfully landing tricks and grinds is much wider. Skate veterans will get nothing out of it, but it is a more friendly introduction to the unique control scheme than the series has ever had before.

The real treat here for longtime Skate players though is the hardcore mode, which makes an already challenging game even more so. Absolute precision is required for the smallest moves. Given how different and, frankly, unintuitive the Skate control methodology can be at first blush, it's actually really surprising that it's taken this long for such difficulty settings to appear in the franchise. This seems particularly so in a game like this where the difficulty settings seem specifically designed to impact the level of abstraction between the controls of the game and the real world analogue.

It is arguable, however, that none of these additions warrant a full blown sequel so soon. Largely, the things that are great about Skate 3 were already great in Skate 2 (and in most cases, the original Skate). To be fair, sequels represent a fine line to walk, between not wanting to spoil what made the predecessor (or franchise as a whole) successful, while still trying to add enough to make the title seem worth it. In the case of Skate 3, whether or not that line has been successfully traversed will likely have to do with what you're looking for from the game. As an entry point to the franchise, it's likely the most accessible and, perhaps, attractive to series neophytes. For die-hard Skate fans, it's conceivable that that the added difficulty of the hardcore mode will be incentive enough to pick this title up. However, I'm not sure that the appeal will be so great for players between those two ends of the spectrum.

Skate 3 is largely enjoyable, and the core mechanics that make it stand apart from Tony Hawk remain fresh. But if EA plans to squeeze more life out of the franchise, they would do well to avoid the mistakes that drove Tony Hawk into the ground, chief among which was almost certainly the minimal amount of time and differences between releases. The difficulty levels and other additions do help to set it apart from its predecessors. But as a series, Skate is prime for a new round of innovation. It would be interesting to see EA further explore Skate 3's team and online elements in the series' future.

8
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Books

How the Template for Modern Combat Journalism Developed

The superbly researched Journalism and the Russo-Japanese War tells readers how Japan pioneered modern techniques of propaganda and censorship in the Russo-Japanese War.

Film

From Horrifying Comedy to Darkly Funny Horror: Bob Clark Films

What if I told you that the director of one of the most heartwarming and beloved Christmas movies of all time is the same director as probably the most terrifying and disturbing yuletide horror films of all time?

Music

The 50 Best Songs of 2007

Journey back 13 years to a stellar year for Rihanna, M.I.A., Arcade Fire, and Kanye West. From hip-hop to indie rock and everywhere in between, PopMatters picks the best 50 songs of 2007.

Music

'Modern' Is the Pinnacle of Post-Comeback Buzzcocks' Records

Presented as part of the new Buzzcocks' box-set, Sell You Everything, Modern showed a band that wasn't interested in just repeating itself or playing to nostalgia.

Music

​Nearly 50 and Nearly Unplugged: 'ChangesNowBowie' Is a Glimpse Into a Brilliant Mind

Nine tracks, recorded by the BBC in 1996 show David Bowie in a relaxed and playful mood. ChangesNowBowie is a glimpse into a brilliant mind.

Music

Reaching for the Sky: An Interview with Singer-Songwriter Bruce Sudano

How did Bruce Sudano become a superhero? PopMatters has the answer as Sudano celebrates the release of Spirals and reflects on his career from Brooklyn Dreams to Broadway.

Music

Inventions Conjure Mystery and Hope with the Intensely Creative 'Continuous Portrait'

Instrumental duo Matthew Robert Cooper (Eluvium) and Mark T. Smith (Explosions in the Sky) release their first album in five years as Inventions. Continuous Portrait is both sonically thrilling and oddly soothing.

Music

Esperanza Spalding and Fred Hersch Are 'Live at the Village Vanguard' to Raise Money for Musicians

Esperanza Spalding and Fred Hersch release a live recording from a 2018 show to raise money for a good cause: other jazz musicians.

Music

Lady Gaga's 'Chromatica' Hides Its True Intentions Behind Dancefloor Exuberance

Lady Gaga's Chromatica is the most lively and consistent record she's made since Born This Way, embracing everything great about her dance-pop early days and giving it a fresh twist.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Street Art As Sprayed Solidarity: Global Corona Graffiti

COVID-19-related street art functions as a vehicle for political critique and social engagement. It offers a form of global solidarity in a time of crisis.

Music

Gretchen Peters Honors Mickey Newbury With "The Sailor" and New Album (premiere + interview)

Gretchen Peters' latest album, The Night You Wrote That Song: The Songs of Mickey Newbury, celebrates one of American songwriting's most underappreciated artists. Hear Peters' new single "The Sailor" as she talks about her latest project.

Music

Okkyung Lee Goes From Classical to Noise on the Stellar 'Yeo-Neun'

Cellist Okkyung Lee walks a fine line between classical and noise on the splendid, minimalist excursion Yeo-Neun.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.