skate [360]

by

Review by Richard Marsh

I want you to take a moment and think of all the things you can do with R200. Maybe it’s a night out at the local watering hole. Maybe even a cheap dinner and movies for you and the significant other. Or maybe, you can spend it on the greatest skateboarding game ever made. EA’s Skate has surpassed the Tony Hawk franchise as the definitive skateboarding game. This coming from someone who:

a) Generally doesn’t like EA games (on high horse principal) and
b) Has been an avid supporter of the Tony Hawk games since Pro Skater 2.

But how exactly does Skate perform this miraculous task you ask? Well, let’s start with the control scheme. Gone are the days of butting mashing to perform tricks. The right analogue stick controls your feet. So if you’d like to perform an ollie, you move the stick down and quickly back up again. Pop-shuvit? Down and half-circle to the right or left. It’s tricky at first and comes with the “easy-to-learn-hard-to-master” badge. But it’s so damn intuitive that not before long, you’ll be doing nollie hardflips to a smithy grind in no time. That is, if you have the patience. You see, what makes this game so great is mastering the tricks at whim. Don’t be surprised if your controller does an aerial route towards the TV. But at the same time, you’ll be truelly rewarded when you do nail that seemingly impossible sequence.

Right, so we know the controls are great and the reason you’ll be sticking with this game for hours, but what about the rest of the package? Well, the camera is a bit awkward in the beginning. The idea behind the camera is that you are being followed by your own personal cameraman who puts your mad skills to film. So the camera is down low and up close, like a real skate video. So at times you aren’t getting the best vantage point, but it’s something you do get use to.

Sound in this game is very authentic as you hit rails, power-slide down roads and perform flip tricks. It’s so good in fact, that you barely notice it if you’ve ever enjoyed skateboarding in real life. The soundtrack, as always with EA, is great and features staple sounds from the skateboard culture. You’ll probable find yourself singing along as your cruise through the open world. The fictional city you find yourself in has some great hidden spots and and is full of opportunity for any creative skater out there. What I really enjoyed was the fact that you could just skate through the world, looking for that great spot. When you find it, you apply your own style and approach. It’s what skateboarding is all about and this game captures that feeling to a tee.

Skate never takes itself too serious and seems to enjoy making fun of both the gaming and skating cultures. The story is enjoyable and serves the player well in advancing through the game. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but the basic gist is that you have to rebuild your career after a very entertaining accident. You’ll hook up with real life pro skaters as you try to get sponsored and earn some street cred. Though there is a lot of sponsored products, I was still yearning for more and would really have appreciated a personalised pro-board later on.

Another small annoyance is that you can’t get off the skateboard at will. So even a small set of stairs can serve up frustration as you cruise around. Luckily, this is being added to Skate 2. But for now, you’ll have to suffer the frustration. The game also sports some bugs, as the game tends to freeze up randomly from time to time. It probable staled 4 times in my 15 hour stint, so it’s not the end of the world. Other bugs include weird collision detection, rocketing you off to space or hanging in limbo.

This doesn’t occur too much, so it shouldn’t detract from the overall experience.

Online features are plentiful and rock solid. You can take snapshots and videos of your avatar in action and upload them to the EA servers. There your peers, friends and who ever can rate your leet skills. Multi-player is fun and can easily act as a time sink. Even with my shoddy 384k line I could enjoy international competition, if there weren’t too many people in the lobby.

Again, I can’t emphasise enough, what a good game this is. It has completely changed what I expect from skateboarding games. Everything about this game screams quality and has the excellent addictiveness we gamers yearn for. Skate 2 will be doing the rounds next year, so I suggest picking up this game and wet your appetite for shredding pavement. For a measly 200 bucks, there really is no reason not to get this game.

Verdict: 4.5 stars

Release Date: 28 September 2007

Take2 – R181

Zaps – R184

Approx 2nd hand price on xbox-360.co.za – R150

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3 Responses to “skate [360]”

  1. SnotDonkeyman Says:

    Tony Hawk > Skate

  2. palesa Says:

    I was in two minds about getting this game. Everytime I walk into Musica I’d be conflicted as I already own a great Tony Hawk’s title. Now I think I’ll get it.

  3. milez_away@budgetgamer Says:

    it’s quite different from Tony Hawk, it’s much harder. As a Tony Hawk fan I found it to be very frustrating at first, but once i got the hang of it, I can’t play a TOny Hawk game again.

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