“Third time’s a charm” is what my buddy told me after the damn skateboard painfully landed next to my legs. A hopeful saying, something that pathetic people get comfort from but most of all a saying that doesn’t mean anything to EA and Black Box as they delivered an almost perfect game the first time round. Skate created a revolution in the skating landscape. A whirlwind that blew Tony Hawk from the map and showed how it was done. This year we get part 3 already, maybe time to grease the bolts?
It didn’t take more than a year to create the successor to Skate 2. This seems awfully short to make a full game but a franchise that has such good foundations needs little tampering with. A completely new city, some new tricks and improved online capabilities need to make sure Skate 3 doesn’t walk the same path as that of Tony Hawk Pro Skater.
At the start you need to choose from three difficulty degrees, varying from “my hamster could do this with his eyes closed while baking a cake” to “I’m pulling pubic hair because there’s nothing left on my head”. You see where I’m going? Afterwards you get some warmup exercises by Coach Frank who’s perfectly played by My Name if Earl actor Jason Lee. After you’ve got the basics under control you’re dropped in the town of Port Caverton that wants you to ride it hard with your four wheels.
Port Caverton is a dream for the elderly and disabled. Everywhere you look there’s benches, flower pots, doorsteps to grind on and no stairs without railings. A true paradise that will bring the demographic gap between the venerable and skaters closer together. Next to that EA removed the underground feeling from the first two games which makes that you can freely skate around town without getting bothered by some fat security guard. Also the storyline “from zero to hero” is no longer used and instead they let you start with a pro skater who wants to release his own brand. In Skate 3 the idea is to spread your “brand” by selling as many skateboards as possible.
The biggest innovation is found in the online part. In principle the game is completely designed with multiplayer in mind and with a push of a button you’re on the net with friends or strangers. Just about all challenges and missions in singleplayer are present online. The social aspects also plays a large part as making your own team (with logo and slogan), inviting friends and completing objectives with them is only the tip of this mountain. It looks like Skate 3 will have a real community for the first time!
Only a handful of new tricks are added to the rather short library and most prominent is the darkslide. In reality this is a very difficult move but in Skate 3 we don’t really notice that. Is the small amount of new moves a result of the short development time? Maybe not but some more effort and time in this department wouldn’t have hurt.
Also the ‘Hall of Meat’ has returned in Skate 3. This sadistical feature is present since the first game but there it was little more than an extra. It became quite popular though and in Skate 3 it’s more noticeable than ever. Now it’s even possible to skydive while falling and even move around a bit after falling in the hope to fall a bit further down. All in all the Hall of Meat remains nothing more than the light variation Skate 3 needs.
Skate 3 brings some additions to the Skate formula here and there, including the making of your own team and skate park, improved physics and an interesting multiplayer component. The skating world has undergone quite a change thanks to Port Caverton which truly breathes SKATE. All in all this is a fun game but the novelty is starting to wear down. Too few innovations and changes make that this franchises is getting closer to the abyss.