Skate 3 is Rad (no but!)

Three games in less than 3 years – you know this game is either published by Activision or EA. Although the Skate franchise has always been heavy on the in-game advertisements and product placement, I don’t feel as though EA is purely milking it. In fact, with each game in the series getting better and better, the sequels have felt full and justified. Skate 3 keeps the core gameplay in tact, throws you into an entirely new city, and gives you loads of new challenges to complete, both solo and online. If you played the demo and were sorely let down (like me), fear not! Skate 3 is a welcome addition to the franchise, and another step in the right direction.

The Same Old Complaints

I know I sound like a broken record, but these have to be mentioned…

Pedestrians are constantly getting in your way. They will actually start to congregate if you linger around a spot for a while. I tend to set-up a marker and skate a spot, doing lines and such. Before long, it turns into a game of Dodge the Pedestrian.

Update: Sam Brown pointed out via Twitter, that pressing down on the d-pad will clear pedestrians in your path.  Apparently, this is mentioned in one of the tips displayed during loading sequences.

This old lady actually made for a nice gap, as I did a backside 180 kickflip over her, to nose slide the rail.

There are still plenty of “WTF just happened?” moments, typically caused by wonky physics. I lost track of how many times my dude literally bounced off of an invisible wall surrounding an object.

Jam sessions during contests are still extremely frustrating, as you try and max out your score while tripping over 3 other skaters as the frame rate struggles to be maintained. The only time you’ll see a slow down is when there are multiple skaters on screen, but that usually means it’s during a contest, which is the worst possible time for a slow-down.

Simplified Career Mode

Coach Frank, played by Jason Lee, helps get you up to speed.

Coach Frank, played by Jason Lee, helps get you up to speed.

The single player career feels a bit shallow compared to that of Skate 2‘s. You’re thrown into the action right quick, and challenges can all be accessed from a single menu screen. You can even sign-up from the challenge screen, as opposed to teleporting and skating six feet to sign-up. So jumping from one event to the next is as quick and painless as it possibly could be. But because of this, and the fact that there just seems to be less of everything, the single player end definitely feels thin in comparison to previous games in the series.

Challenges are much easier than previous games, if you want them to be. In past games, you were typically given a very specific goal. Usually a certain trick had to be performed on a specified object, and that was that – you had to do it. This time around, you’re given a very vague goal – do a trick over the gap, then grind any of the rails, for example. But if you want to work for it, you can “kill” the challenge. This usually requires something specific, and can be very difficult.

If you want to step up the difficulty even more, Skate 3 has a “hardcore” game mode, which is supposed to make it a more realistic skateboarding experience. I found that it just felt like the game was broken. It made all of its imperfections stand out that much more, and totally killed the fun factor – no pun intended. On the flip-side, there’s an easy mode. I kept it locked on normal, which is the classic Skate gameplay.

Create and Share

Sharing screenshots and video footage have always been a part of the Skate franchise, and the Skate.Reel makes a return appearance in Skate 3. In Skate 2, you could create spots and share them. In Skate 3, you can build parks and post them for your friends, or anyone for that matter to check out. The park editor is huge, and very intuitive. You are given plenty of room to build your park, and an abundance of objects and options to really make something unique.

The park Danny Way built.

The park Danny Way built.

On the topic of sharing, you have a team you manage in the single player game. You add skaters as you progress, and you have the option to import a friend’s skater. I thought this was a little odd, given that you can jump online and skate with your friends at any time. But to make things even more bizaare, I noticed a friend of mine skating around the city one day while I was doing some challenges. He stuck out like a sore thumb, since there was a neon coloured name floating about his head. I rolled over, hopped off my board and tossed up the horns. He continued to skate around, bailing pretty often. I followed him for a bit, then pulled up my friends list when I wasn’t able to attract his attention. The dude I was seeing in my game, wasn’t online. Whu? I’m not sure who thought it was a good idea to have bots assume the identity of your friends in your solo game, but it happens, and it’s weird when it does. Distracting and confusing, at best.

Massive Online Career

Skate 3 is made for online play. It’s totally obvious that online multiplayer was the main focus of Skate 3. I’m almost positive there are more challenges online than in the single player career. For someone like me, who plays mostly offline, this is a bit of a drag. But I bit the bullet and jumped online for a freeskate session last night. I was grouped with 5 other people, and we took turns hitting the big drop in the Monster stadium. Aside from the occasional hiccup when players dropped and entered the game, it ran nice and smooth. I have yet to do any of the online career, but I plan to.

Glad I Picked it Up

I was definitely hesitant to play Skate 3, based on the bad taste left in my mouth from the demo, but I’m glad I did. While some of the same annoyances from the first game are still present in Skate 3, there are many improvements across the board that make Skate 3 a more solid experience than its predecessors. I would recommend Skate 3 to anyone who’s played and enjoyed the first two games. Even those that weren’t crazy about them, or found them a little difficult. Easy mode, coupled with the easier challenge goals make Skate 3 a much more accessible game.

Screenshots

All of these images were captured by me using the in-game Skate.Reel feature.

Rating: 4/5

Skate 3

7 Responses to “Skate 3 is Rad (no but!)”

  1. Just got this today. Looking forward to playing it tonight. I'm not on XBOX live. Sounds like I might have to bite the bullet to get the most out of this?

    • There's still a lot to do offline. Especially if you're aiming to kill all of the challenges. If you get through everything and want more, then I would consider online.

  2. Glad to see you came around on the game and gave it a chance.

    I think we had completely opposite experiences with the demo. I had recently just spent a few weeks with Skate 2 (checked out from our local library for free – what?) and liked what was new (from 1), but felt the dirt and orange was a little tired. I was psyched to see the clean (almost Mirror's Edge) environments and switch to blue for the interface elements. In 2, I had pedestrians in my way at all the wrong times, but in 3 (demo), I never had that issue.

    Speaking of, Jason Lee's character tells you that if peds are in your way to hit down on the d-pad to run them off (out of your line).

    The other great thing to love is that the environment is designed with the contrivance that it's FOR skaters, not that you're trying to get away with anything. It makes everything a lot more enjoyable and lowers the stress (when guards start chasing you).

    I haven't been able to get any games going online (playing PS3 version), but the real draw for me with 3 has to be the park editor. I could see myself spending months creating parks and skating them — not that I have the actually have the time.

    • I'm still not crazy about some of the UI and sound changes, but it's not as bad as it seemed in the demo. That, or I got used to it quickly.

      Sam Brown actually pointed out the d-pad down trick just after I posted this (via Twitter). Works great! Wish I had known about it earlier, but at least now I can get those assholes out of my way!

      I totally forgot about the "no skate zones" in Skate 2, and the lack there of in Skate 3. Indeed, this is a very good thing! Some of the best spots in Skate 2 were protected and could only be fully enjoyed in freeskate mode with guards turned off. Also, I hated how the camera pulled so far back when they started chasing you. Made it really hard to focus on your tricks.

  3. I haven't played either of the Skate games, although I've always thought they looked fun. I think my older boys would be interested, and it seems this one is a little easier than the previous (on the easiest difficulty at least) and they are quite into real-life skateboarding already this year. Might have to pick this one up for them, or at least add it to our GameAccess queue.

    • Oh, nice! It's probably safe to say your boys would enjoy this game. And yeah, it's significantly easier than the previous games, and very forgiving.

  4. Hey Matt, I'm playing through Skate 3 at the moment and am feeling that it's much of the same as Skate and Skate 2, with the same nuances still present (the ones you mentioned). I'm not saying that's a bad thing; Skate is in its third year so EA have now got the formula down. I will say, however, that the one thing I wish wasn't present is the ability to get off your board. Those physics are broken. It isn't even slightly realistic. Since when can anyone run uphill that fast? Or trip over thin air? It infuriates me. Just like the rest of Skate, but the rest of Skate infuriates me in a good way!