A turning point for skating sims
+ Excellent representation of skating, smooth board movements
+ Easy to learn, difficult to master "flick it" controls accurately represent the feel of skating
+ Sandbox style overworld that's fun to leisurely skate around
+ "Hall of Meat" Break as many bones as possible, need I say more?
+ Challenges vary in difficulty, some are simple while others will have you resetting frequently
+ Plenty of ways to customize the look and style of your skater and gear
+ Create and upload skate videos and photos to skate.reel
+ Online modes including an awesome freeskate mode where players can skate around with each other
- Some annoying glitches that should have been fixed
- Occasionally the game executes the wrong trick
- Lackluster soundtrack
First a little background info about the author. I've been playing Skate since the day it was released, so I guess you could say I've spent ample time with the game, and I hope you'll take that into consideration as you read my review. I'll admit, when I first saw the camera my first instinct was to close my browser. I guess that was the Tony Hawk fan inside of me saying "Pull back bro," but I fought my urges and downloaded the demo from PSN. "Holy *bleep*ing shit," I thought loading up the game for the first time. From the initial moment my skater's board hit the pavement, I was filled with an overwhelming sense of freedom and a strong desire to find a huge ramp to jump off. So I grabbed my backpack and hit the streets, after a bit of reconstructive surgery.
Wanna get high?
The first thing I noticed was the sheer size of the city of San Vanelona, or just "San Van" as your friend, A.K.A. douche bag camera guy, refers to it. That might sound harsh, but you should know the game opens with your skater getting hit by a bus and your so-called friend continues filming while you bleed out onto the pavement waiting for the paramedics to arrive. Ouch. Where was that extra pair of eyes earlier? Like I was saying, you'll need a map to navigate the city and its many alleyways and side streets, and luckily there's one to be found in your backpack at the start of the game. What's really nice, however, and I didn't realize this until after I became a pro and had traveled somewhere around 2000 miles up and down the hills of San Van, is that you can use the map to locate and warp to nearby subway stations or challenge markers. And while taking a nice long skate from the suburbs to downtown might seem like a relaxing thing to do on a Sunday afternoon, you'll be glad you hung onto that map when it comes time to make the return trip.
But you won't have any trouble finding things to do in San Vanelona. Skate features a handful of challenges ranging from your local skate competitions to more creative challenges devised by actual professional skaters. The game also has special "Own the Spot" challenges that mimic the online Spot Battle mode. The object of these challenges is to land the highest scoring line you can on that marked spot. Easier said than done, believe me. Some of the spots are just plain easy to hit while others require a more personalized approach. And that's another thing I'd like to point out, the number of different ways to hit spots in this game is near infinite. Where and how you skate is really up to you, and it makes for a much more interesting experience, even more so when playing online.
The real fun, at least for me, was playing online with other skaters. There's something to be said about skating around with strangers, occasionally colliding with one another at impressive speeds possibly breaking a few ribs in the process, and generally just enjoying the game for what it is. A skating sim. Needless to say, I spent most of my time playing online in freeskate sessions, but I did give a few of the other modes a try. Spot Battle, as the name implies, challenges players to own a spot in three rounds. It's actually pretty fun and you learn different ways to hit each spot quickly watching other players. There are a couple of other modes, like S.K.A.T.E. and Death Race, but none were able to hold my attention. I found myself going back to freeskate more often than anything.
Besides the occasional programming bug, like performing a 360 Hardflip and having the game register you pulling a Nollie 360 Hardflip, or glitches with bump mapping or spontaneously falling off your board for no apparent reason other than some kids may have thrown some invisble gravel into the street, I found little to complain about. Most of my complaints could be summed up with the phrase "lacked polish". My only real gripe was the soundtrack, or more accurately the lack of good music to skate to. Most songs get repetitive after you've heard them for the 20th odd time, but what really bugs me is the lack of variety here. The songs just didn't capture the essence of skating in my opinion, and some of them were just downright terrible-- "Bam Bam" by Sister Nancy, I mean wtf.
In the end, what we have here is one sick skating sim and a bunch of wannabe gangsta tracks all in one convenient package. I'll spare you the recap and say get this game if you enjoy skating games or haven't played the Skate series. Die hard Hawk fans might have a hard time abandoning their button tapping ways and adapting to the new camera angle, but should know it's totally worth it in the end.
About the author