4/19/2009 7:46 PM
52 Weeks of Canadian Gaming - Week 15
Release Date: September 17, 2007
Developer: EA Black Box
ESRB Rating: Everyone
Reviewed by: Brian Wray
Springtime is not only for baseball, it's also the time of the year to put away those ice skates, fish out the skateboard and hit the pavement. Well for some that is the tradition, but I do not like the sport of skateboarding at all (more of a mountain bike man myself). Can skate overcome my prejudice about the sport and find a way into my repertoire of games? Let's find out.
Skate was developed at EA Black Box in Vancouver, as their answer to the very popular Tony Hawk franchise of skateboarding games. The developers took a more realistic approach to the sport whereas Tony Hawk branded games tended to be more extravagant and arcadish in nature.
Skate takes place in the fictional town of San Vanelona. The town is divided into several sections; the Suburbs, the Res, and Downtown. The main goal in skate is to become famous by completing various challenges and events that occur all over the town to get an invite to the prestigious X-Games. San Vanelona is quite large, good thing the game supplies the gamer with a mini-map and a subway system that can transport you anywhere in the town quickly. Just open the mini-map, select a subway or event and a option will appear to transport the skater to the selected location instantly. Just a bit of advice to novice skaters, take the long road as it will be a great learning technique to skate from one location to another, and the game is filled with undocumented challenges just waiting to be found.
The graphics in skate are quite good. The world looks vibrant and alive and full of colour. This is something we do not often see in the realistic world of HD graphics. I did find many of the game’s textures a bit bland and I would have loved to see rag-doll physics applied to the skateboarder once he/she took a tumble, but these are just wishes and the game does not suffer for the lack of these features.
(Click for larger image)
Sound quality as with most EA games is top-notch. The sound of the skateboard rolling across pavement is just as I remembers when walking by the local skateboard park. The city is also ripe with ambient sounds. Pedestrians will stop to talk to each other, or chat away on their cell phones as they stroll by. Sirens can often be heard (but the source is never seen) and birds chirp happily in the distance (but like the sirens, are never seen). I found the best way to enjoy the sounds of the game is to just leave the controller alone for a few minutes and just listen to the game, there are plenty of jokes to be heard. Nice addition by the developers.
The controls in skate are fantastic. The left analog stick controls the skateboarder and the X or A button allows the boarder to push with his/her right or left leg. All tricks are performed using the right analog stick and various button combinations (for those extra complicated moves). Tricks range in difficulty from very simple ollies and nollies, to mind numbing complex grabs and flips. Unlike other games that only unlock new tricks as the gamer completes challenges and events, in skate all tricks are available to be performed from the beginning of the game.
Once a new trick was been mastered, gamers have plenty of options to show off to the world. Skate will allow gamers to save 30 second clips and uploading them online for the world to enjoy. The game even features a great and simple to use clip editor.
(Click for larger image)
Skate also takes full advantage of Xbox Live for plenty of multiplayer action. SkateTV allows gamers to sit back and watch some pros doing their thing. It is actually quite amazing to just watch the tricks some of these “pro” skaters can pull off. Well it was for the first few minutes, then it got boring real fast (I do have a very short attention span). There is more to do while online than just watch some TV. Gamers can challenge other players in various game competitions such as s.k.a.t.e, deathrace or spot battle.
Skate has a few problems but the most annoying has to be that skateboarders cannot get off their board. It can be quite frustrating to have to do a long detour since the player cannot climb a set of stairs. It is also silly to see skateboarders skating over grass and pebbles and such.
Overall skate is a very well designed game, one that is superior in about every single way over Tony Hawk’s skateboarding games. Skate also offers plenty of replayability and even thought the game was released in September of 2007, it still has an active online community. Having said that, I still prefer the outlandish style of Tony Hawk's games such as American Wasteland for my skateboarding enjoyment.