When the original skate rolled out in September 2007, we saw Tony Hawk’s skateboarding game crown snatched from his grasp. With an innovative and deceptively simple control scheme, realistic physics including a skeletal system on your player, and a gigantic city to roam in, the talented folks at EA Black Box made a huge statement, and the game outsold Tony Hawk’s Proving Grounds. Fast-forward almost three years later, and Skate 3 is the latest iteration in this venerable series. But does this sequel add enough to the mix to warrant a buy?
The very short answer: hell yes. After an initial installation to the PS3’s hard drive, Skate 3 is the quickest-loading entry in the series so far. Instantly teleporting to a challenge on your map is extremely quick, and restarting that event only takes a handful of seconds. The story this time continues where Skate 2 left off: you’re a skateboarding legend who came back onto the scene, but now you’re starting your own company in a new city, Port Carvertown. The ultimate goal in Skate 3 is to sell a ton of your new team’s skateboards.
Graphically, this game does not look too much better than Skate 2. The character models do seem to be somewhat improved, and the city of Port Carvertown seems to have a bit more color than San Vanelona had in the first two games. However, the framerate is a lot steadier this time around. There are a few hiccups every now and then, but they only seem to occur when you are not in the middle of doing a trick. Fans of the series who played the previous two Skate games on the PS3 will appreciate the reliable framerate. The skatepark creator (more on that in a bit) does seem to cut the framerate in half, but only when editing the park and is still adequate – think 30 fps there instead of 60 during normal gameplay.
You better have a decent sound system when you play this game if you intend to fully experience its world. Presented in full surround sound of at least 7.1 Dolby Digital, you can hear everything around you and the sound effects are well-done. I found myself cringing on several occasions when breaking bones in the Hall of Meat mode. The soundtrack is quite varied, and if you don’t like a track playing it is easy to skip to the next one or restart a song you are particularly fond of. Custom soundtracks are also supported thankfully.
Obviously, the biggest new feature in this sequel is the “skate.Park” creator. It does what its name implies – you can finally build a custom skatepark. While playing the main campaign, you unlock extra building materials and objects to add to your creations. You can start from a blank square of land to build on or take a template (or even someone else’s park that you downloaded) and modify it to your heart’s content. The limit to the number of items and materials seems very high, and nearly anything you see in the game could potentially be recreated in this editor. Also, while in Skate 2 you could get off your board and move objects around, in Skate 3 there is now a tool called the Object Dropper. Anything you have unlocked for the skatepark editor is available for this, and you can summon any object into the world, practically wherever you like. This makes for pseudo-skateparks and can enable great setups for impressive lines that you can of course make a video out of.
The same basic sharing system from the previous game is here as well, with the addition of sharing created parks. Anytime someone else downloads one of your parks, photos or videos, you receive a commission of board sales. So there is an actual reward to all your hard work this time besides simply receiving credit for an upload.
Online is back and smoother than ever…When it works. There were some connection issues when first getting online within the first few days of the game going live, but it appears that EA has ironed out those issues. Lag is minimal most of the time, and the framerate stays steady when a game is ongoing. Your mileage may vary here depending on network conditions and your internet connection. You can also play cooperatively in the main campaign over the Internet, which does earn you board royalties back in your single-player game. Also, while skating around the city you will occasionally see a friend of yours’ skateboarding in your city, controlled by the AI. This is another nice touch that adds to the depth of the game’s online reach.
Skate 3 is the best skateboarding game available today. With a further refinement of that revolutionary “Flick-It” control scheme, tighter online integration, and a great skatepark creator, hours will be lost to this game if you buy it, and every moment of that time will be spent in skateboarding bliss. Owners of the previous two entries should definitely pick this title up, and for new players to the series or those who do cannot grasp the control scheme, a new Easy mode gives you a bit more leeway to make the game more accessible.
PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score
Massive new city to play in.
Tighter online integration, excellent skatepark creator.
Graphics can be unimpressive, getting online sometimes a pain.