Skate 3

[PAX East 2010] Skater's Paradise

Skate 3 makes some important changes to the formula, but it doesn't reinvent the gnar gnar.
Author: J.D. Cohen
Published: April 7, 2010
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The other side of this philosophical shift is the way in which every activity yields tangible rewards. Progression through the game's career mode is measured by a meter which represents the number of skateboards that you've sold. Completing the various skating challenges in the game will sell boards. Completing multiplayer events (some of which are very similar to the freeburn challenges of Burnout Paradise) will net you board sales. Perhaps most interestingly, sharing a popular video, design or park online will sell skateboards. In Skate 3 every little thing you do contributes to your career, and with the new meter, the gains are immediately obvious. Cuz gave the example of how one might slack off at work, messing with the web-based design tools, and then pop into the game at home and see the meter rise in proportion to the popularity of the design.

With everything feeding back into the career like this, it should never feel like you're wasting time when exploring the various side activities. (You could argue that playing video games is a waste of time anyway, but everyone likes seeing a meter fill up.) These structural changes should make the game more approachable, but there are a couple of other, less subtle means of doing this too. Skate 3 will feature an optional extended tutorial in the form of a "Skate School," designed to bring neophytes up to speed. If players are still frustrated, they can opt for a more lenient difficulty mode that will make it easier to pull off impressive-looking maneuvers without bailing constantly. On the other end of the spectrum, dedicated series fans who like their simulations deep and technical can choose the new "hardcore" mode, which will make everything more demanding. In this mode, it will be possible to screw up simple tricks, there will be less assistance in lining up grinds, and, naturally, you'll have to be far more diligent about pumping those trannies. There are a lot of expert players out there who dearly value a sense of realism in their saved videos, and hardcore mode ought to be just the thing for them.

As this is a PlayStation-specific site, I felt an obligation to bring up the performance issues that have been present in the PS3 versions of the Skate games so far. Chris-dawg assured me that their increased understanding of the system combined with using it as the lead platform will mean a smooth experience for everyone. Similar promises have been made in the past, but he seemed so sincere that I had to give him the benefit of the doubt. I also asked about the game's music, and in addition to the usual bevy of licensed tracks (or Trax, as EA likes to call them), there will be original score from heavyweights such as Del tha Funkee Homosapien and Mark Mothersbaugh. Sir Cuz was particularly excited about working with such class acts, and expressed how crazy it felt telling such prominent artists what to do.

Skate 3 is not a reinvention of the franchise; it has the same underlying engine and basic gameplay mechanics (with a few new tricks, naturally). The real advancements this time are in how the action is contextualized within the career structure by hooking all the elements of the game together, which should hopefully translate into a more organic overall experience. The new difficulty levels promise to broaden the game's appeal to those for whom the previous games were too fiddly, and to those who outgrew the old gameplay. (Watch some videos of the better players and you'll see some real wizardry.) Having an entirely new city to play around in is a pretty big change too.

If any of this piques your interest, be sure to hit the PlayStation Store on April 15, when the demo goes live. It'll have a taste of a surprising number of the game's features, such as Skate School, the object dropper, the replay editor (with upload capability), and even a series of multiplayer challenges (including the crowd pleasing Hall of Meat). The full game is scheduled for release on May 11 in North America, and the rest of the world will get it three days later.
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