Skate 3 Hands On Preview - With Friends Like These...
Written Sunday, November 15, 2009 By Richard WalkerView author's profile
Grazed knees, broken bones, smashed-in teeth and the risk of testicle trauma are just some of the reasons that we’ve chosen to stay off a skateboard. That, and a complete and utter lack of skill.
Digital skateboarding on the other hand is fine. There’s no risk of injury other than perhaps a slight thumb strain, and you can still pull off all the gnarly skate moves you want. Although, chances are the ladies might not be so impressed by your button-pressing prowess, as they almost certainly would be by the real thing.
Black Box’s Skate series began in 2007, bringing with it a revolutionary new control system and dynamic camera that made the dominant Tony Hawk’s games seem remarkably unsophisticated by comparison. And while Skate’s inspired analogue stick flickery all seems so simple now, it took us a long time to grow accustomed to solely using the sticks and shoulder buttons, breaking the old habits that we’d developed from the Tony Hawk’s series.
Having moved away from the resolutely anti-skate city of Skate 2’s San Vanelona, where the authorities were constantly on your tail for being a naughty, anarchic skater type, the sequel’s Port Carverton is a sparkling, skater’s paradise – the very antithesis of San Vanelona’s crazed law enforcement. Skate 3’s vibrant city welcomes you with open arms.
This new accessibility is not only a device to enable new players to feel comfortable in Skate 3’s world, but it also makes perfect sense from a narrative perspective. Having left the grey, buttoned-down oppression of San Vanelona, your character has reached the status of skate legend, making your arrival in sunny Port Carverton the perfect opportunity to expand your brand and reinforce your burgeoning fame across the city. As you develop your name and become more recognised, the city changes to reflect your growing status, transforming advertising billboards to display your logo and associated product making you and your label increasingly ubiquitous.
At EA’s November Showcase, we got some hands-on time with a few of Skate 3’s competitive 3v3 team play modes, and not only will you be able to face off against rival crews in the finished game, you can also enjoy playing with friends in co-op. Playing as Team Hesh, we faced off against Team Fresh in a Skate 3 battle royale!
Starting with Death Race – a manic downhill rush from a vertiginous summit upon high, all the way down precarious cliff-edge pathways (hopefully) to the finish line at ground level – we’re thrown straight into what proves to be a heated battle for first place, with players falling off their boards, plummeting to their deaths and getting knocked to the ground in a heap. It’s pretty frantic stuff, but somehow we manage to scrape fourth place on our first go. Second attempt? First place, thanks for asking.
Changing game mode is a simple case of retiring to the hub, where you can skate around, pop tricks and practice until you’re all ready to play again. Next up was Domination, a frenetic battle to tag the most designated scenery objects with the highest score combo before the allotted two-minute time limit elapses.
After an early lead, tagging almost every ramp, kerb, grind rail and box in sight, our collective scores prove too feeble and are quickly bested, meaning most of our tagged objects are snatched away by the opposition. We valiantly fight back, clawing back pieces here and there to even the score and as the dying seconds tick away, it seems we’re set at a deadlock. That is until one player on the opposing team pulls off an impressive combo, stealing away a hotly contested ramp at the very last second, losing us the match.
As fun as these last two modes undoubtedly are, the last we play – and our personal favourite – is 1-Up; a score attack challenge that sees teams take 20-second turns to simultaneously set a high score for the opposing team to beat. The pressure’s really on though, because if any member of your team should bail at any time, you lose your turn and score zero.
To begin with, everyone takes an overly cautious approach, pulling off safe kickflips and other unambitious tricks to avoid falling off. But as the scores rise and the stakes grow ever higher, taking risks becomes an essential factor in accumulating better scores. Soon, players are bailing out left, right and centre, tripping over attempted grinds, flying through the air and scraping their chins across the concrete. It’s frenetic fun that has us all shouting at the screens and wildly gesticulating, which bodes incredibly well for Skate 3’s multiplayer.
With various other multiplayer modes promised, Skate 3 is looking like it’ll successfully build upon its superb predecessor as well as attracting new players with its more accessible nature. A new skate school will help novices become acquainted with the stick-swivelling intricacies of Skate, while veteran players will already be well versed in using the series’ unique control system, which is one facet of Skate that happily remains unchanged.
Skate 3’s new focus upon online community is exciting, with the sharing and downloading of user-created content – presumably designed to include the enhanced video editor - forming an integral component of the overall experience. More importantly though, is Black Box’s dedication to ensuring Skate’s sublime core gameplay remains untouched, and despite our hands-on time being all too brief, we came away with the very distinct sense that Skate 3 will be every bit as accomplished as the first two Skate games, if not more so.
Skate 3 is slated for a May 2010 release.