Skate 3 Demo Impressions
Only a few years back, the famed Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series was dethroned after years of reign by the new kid in town, EA’s Skate. The first Skate title wasn’t the first successful title that EA Black Box had created, but it was the first PlayStation 3 game I ever played. I almost instantly fell in love with the game, being a former competitive skateboarder myself. More than a year later Skate 2 came out, and while it added a few new additions to gameplay, I was wholeheartedly disappointed in the title. However, my love for Skate wasn’t diminished, and now Skate 3 is only weeks upon us. Now that a demo was released last Thursday on the PlayStation Store, does the title seem like a disappointment in the making, or does it look to improve and take the series to the next level?
Skate 3’s demo starts off with some options that you are able to select from. One of the options is the difficulty, which can be set to Easy, Normal or Hardcore. Also, the option to select a camera angle between the standard Skate format or a Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater style camera has also been added. Both of these options create for a much better level of gameplay customization than in the previous two titles. In my experience, the difficulty setting greatly changes the ease of popping tricks high and staying on the board. Playing on Easy made for some incredibly enjoyable sessions of skating around creating amazing runs which nearly lifted me from my couch. On the other hand, Hardcore will definitely give Skate veterans a challenge if they so desire.
One of the first things noticed after selecting options and jumping into the game is that EA have gone back to the vibrant visuals of the first Skate title. Skate 2 had a more “gritty” approach if you will which left a sour taste in my mouth. The original Skate had impressive visuals for the time, and it seemed like Skate 2 actually took a step backward graphically. Both the visuals and animations have received great improvements this time around, and I’m glad to say that they’re beyond my expectations. Some of the roll-away animations and cutscene interactions are animated a lot better than both previous games which should definitely add to the believability of the new campaign experience. The menu navigation and UI have also been streamlined and are a lot quicker and easier to navigate. Jumping between options, online play and more is now much more accessible which should make for less frustrating experiences than Skate 2.
In terms of gameplay, all of the tricks from Skate and Skate 2 seem to be in this title, and there have also been a few welcomed additions. There are now darkslides and underflips, both of which are my two new favorite tricks. Darkslides are performed by holding R1 and executing a kickflip or heelflip motion to flip the skateboard upside-down. This allows the skater to grind any grind-able object with the grip tape on the board. Another huge point of improvement is in the handling of getting off of the skateboard. Both offboard and in-air controls are substantially better than in Skate 2. Movement and turning are much quicker than before, and it’s now much more accessible to get to hot skate points. Jumping off of the board mid-air allows you to now glide in the air and designate where to land. This makes gameplay elements like the Hall of Meat and just goofing around a lot more fun than before.
The presentation in the Skate 3 demo is a definite surprise. The camera is a lot more intuitive than in previous games, and the way missions are presented is an improvement. Magazine photos and tutorials are handled a lot better than both previous games. Picking a photo for a magazine now allows for you to add zoom, filters as well as other options. On the other hand, when crashing off of the skateboard during gameplay, you can now see points of damage on your skeleton as you land on the pavement. This coupled with better audio and controls spells hours of fun for yourself and friends as you have Hall of Meat sessions. The most noticeable improvement are in the loading times. At least in the demo, loading times are rather quick and unlike Skate 2 should mean more skating and less waiting.
As a whole, I am happy to see the Skate 3 demo represent a huge moving forward for EA’s Skate series. The off-board handling and presentation are much improved over the previous title, and the addition of new technical tricks makes for a whole lot more options when recording a video to post on your profile. The option to set a difficulty of gameplay and a new camera angle means gameplay is tweak-able for those who don’t like the standard settings or are looking for a new challenge. With Skate 3 set to release on May 11th of this year, this is definitely an upcoming game that you can count on me getting. Check out the new demo on the PlayStation Store to see if you like the new changes, and look forward to the official PlayStation LifeStyle review of Skate 3 within the following month!