Skate is without a doubt one of the more engaging games of its generation with a control scheme that revolutionized the skating genre. The original Skate was heralded for its new and intuitive controls, the second was considered a great game, but not without its own flaws, and now the third instalment is slated for release in a mere 25 days. The largest changes in gameplay seem to be the focus on multiplayer and user-made content, and with the demo for Skate 3 released today, and after spending about an hour with it, initial impressions are pretty good!
The demo starts with Coach Frank (voiced by Jason Lee) teaching you the basics of Skate, such as the 'flickit' system and other basic controls. One thing we noticed that would be particularly helpful to new players is that during the tutorial, the game shows the player's exact right stick movement, letting them easily see why their trick was not the one they expected. As far as the tricks themselves go, two have been added in. Under-flips are first, where the player begins a flip trick, then knocks the board the other way, reversing the flip. The second addition is a trick hardcore players have been clamouring for since the very first game, darkslides. Rather than grinding a rail with the bottom of the board, the player flips the board while ollieing towards the rail, grinding it with the top instead.
Another sought-after feature added is a ramped-up difficulty, Hardcore Mode. In a nutshell, you need more than the standard three pushes to get to max speed, ollies will give you substantially less air if the player doesn't crouch all the way down, or if the player doesn't give the right stick a sufficient amount of 'flick'. As well, latching onto a grind-able surface will require more accuracy as the game won't automatically pull you onto rails, as they did before.
There isn't a gigantic change in the game's graphics, but one change that was immediately noted was the frame rate has been smoothed over quite a bit. It doesn't seem to be at quite the 60fps level, but there were no longer patches that made the game slow down to a crawl. The physics engine is just as good as ever, with wipeouts looking absolutely dreadful. Speaking of which, the bailing is much easier to do, with the spread-eagle letting you control your skater as they plummet to earth. Another change the to 'Hall of Meat' is showing broken bones on the player in real-time, rather than a separate screen. This feature really keeps the pace of the game going, since the game does not pause to show any of this.
While we didn't test out the multiplayer component, EA and Black Box have added in three extra modes, two of which are available in the demo. Domination pits teams against one another in order to own as many spots as possible in the time limit, Own the Lot gives each team six to twelve objectives to complete in one area, and the first team to achieve the full set wins.
With their focus on user-created content, Skate 3 expands on the feature of allowing characters to move parts of the environment around by letting them spawn objects directly into the area. While Skate 3 still retains the sloppy on-foot controls, the 'object dropper' doesn't rely on the player to place objects, meaning you can get each piece exactly where you want it. The demo didn't feature many placeable objects but it gives a good idea of what to expect.
All in all, the demo seems to be pretty solid, the controls are just as tight as ever, and the hardcore mode adds a level of difficulty more skilled players are sure to welcome. Coupled with the fact that the entire story mode can be experienced in co-op, Skate 3 looks to be one of the more anticipated games of the year. It releases in North America on May 11, and in the UK on May 14th.