Skate 3 Review

   18/05/2010 at 10:22       Phil May       7 COMMENTS. - Score 4/5
 - Skate 3, EA Games, Black Box Studios, Xbox 360, Gnarly, dude

King Lizard and the Coffee Grind Kids

Critics would have you believe that there’s some unholy practice afoot if a publisher urges its top development teams to churn out annual updates of a game series. Skate 2 came out in January last year, and was royally savaged for not offering enough new innovations to justify full retail pricing.

Skate 3 is now here, just over a year later and the first questions that will be on anyone’s lips will inevitably be “What’s new, what’s changed, why should we shell out another forty quid or so for another Skate game?”

The answer to these questions is pretty simple really. Do you want more of the same, with the emphasis on the word “more”? You do? Then ollie right this way.

Skate 3 begins with one of those uber-cool trademark “Skate professionals arsing about” movies. If you remember the absolutely beaut Beastie Boys “Sabotage”-like movie from the last game, then you’ll probably get a hoot or two from this one.

The involvement of a truckload of Skate pros does mean that EA is obviously still pulling the rug out from a certain other Skateboarding game I’ll really try not to mention again.

So far so good, no mould breaking stuff, no change to the working formula. You begin the game as you always do with Skate, knocking up a reasonably cute in-game avatar to take to the streets of the huge new location, Port Carverton.

Carverton is a massive and diverse environment with majestic sweeping mountains, harsh urban landscapes and mega-exclusive harbour-side developments. 

Rather than making you feel guilty for shoving a four-wheeled plank under your feet, Skate 3 celebrates every nuance and aspect of Skateboarding starting with the merchandise and accessories you can clad your Skater in, through to the emphasis on building your individual reputation, and for the first time in the series, the rep of your user-created team.

Decks and trucks and rock and roll

Single player career mode is a deep and fully loaded collection of all of Skate’s previous gameplay modes, thrown together into a gigantic challenge map. You begin the game on your own with a fully established reputation as a skateboarding legend. Your experience points and unlocks are controlled by how successful you are at completing challenges and ‘selling’ decks. Your name carries a lot of weight when it comes to Skate merchandise, so the better you skate, the more you sell and the more XP you earn.

Eventually you can expand your in-game roster with a couple of team-mates. Though these are mostly AI controlled, you can call on your posse at any time to skate along with you. You’ll even get to use them in certain photo and film challenges, so make ‘em beautiful as they’re likely to end up with their faces and bodies slapped up on billboards all over Port Carverton.

Lazy skaters can pick and choose their challenges from the pause menu rather than skateboarding around and finding them the hard way, but where’s the fun in that? Hidden spots and bonus items can only be found by pounding the streets – and once again the Skate engine holds up well to a bit of free-roaming open world skateboarding (with the occasional stutter and frame drop, but nothing that will ruin your enjoyment too much).

If you build it, they will ollie

Certain locations contain several challenges at once. Owning these spots and performing well in competitions will allow you to tinker around with one of the game’s neatest innovations, Skate.Park. For the first time, you have full control over a gigantic Skateboarding toybox – allowing you to build and customise your own unique skate park.

Whichever style you favour, the basic components are easy to slot together into a play environment that you can later publish and take online.

Speaking of online mode, the series has gone a long way to synchronise and improve the Xbox Live / EA Nation connection, so you can register in-game and instantly check out your individual and team progress on the Skate 3 website at

There’s more you can do on the site. You can customise your team’s logos and posters, share your user-created parks, skate clips and photos with the community and control all aspects of your career and linked account. The top ten Skate 3 teams are shown on the site, and if you don’t have a team of your own you can always join one online. This tight meshing together of the game with cool social networking tools actually does serve a purpose for once, and should extend the longevity of the game exponentially.

Diving online for a quick free skate session or even a 1-up challenge is seamlessly easy and fun, and more games need to follow the template of integrating single and multiplayer in this way.

Back to the game itself, the career mode is split into three difficulty levels ranging from easy (higher ollies, less chance of bailing) to hardcore (which is punishingly tough, really making you work for each successful trick). Normal mode sits in the middle and this is probably the best for all-rounders who are familiar with the series but don’t want to make things too simple for themselves.

The difficulty curve in normal mode is nice and gradual, and because of the sheer number of challenges on offer initially, with more unlocked progressively, there’s always something to do – something that is vital for a “sandbox” game like this.

Summer Love Sensation

Skate 3 probably won’t convert you if you’ve never enjoyed the previous games or the Skate 3 demo. It does dip its toes into Jackass territory from time to time (the Halls of Meat challenges are annoying and tedious but you can comfortably avoid them if you want to) but it largely offers the same feeling of risk-reward, and the same grounding in reality that has been the hallmark of the series to date (Black Box studios take great pains to point out that most of the tricks and stunts in the game could be reproduced if you’re techy enough on a board – but they strongly urge you not to try ollieing from the top of a car park to a ledge 50 ft below unless you have knees of steel!)

Feeling like a “greatest hits” compilation stuffed to the gills with as much content as possible, Skate 3 is easily the best of the series to date but it’s hard to see where the series could possibly go from here. EA has promised premium DLC at some stage in the near future (quelle surprise) and there are the usual meagre preorder offerings and registration bonuses, but despite this there really is plenty on the disk to get your teeth into and definitely more than enough to warrant a purchase even if you already own Skate 1 and 2.

Deep and satisfying single player, seamless and smooth multiplayer and plenty of community-focused content to keep skateboarding socialites happy, Skate 3 might well get lost in the snowstorm of quality game releases this May, but it’s certainly a superb addition to the franchise, if not the best EA Skate game so far.

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