PAX East 2010 Skate 3 PreviewBy Andrew Pfister - Posted Mar 26, 2010
What We Know: The third installment of EA and Black Box's skateboard simulator promises to beef up online play, as well as provide virtual-thrashers with a more robust set of customization and building tools. Plus, they've added both a simplified "really easy" mode and a compli-fied hardcore mode. So get ready to get totally gnarly.
What We Saw: I’m not one you would call a skater, which is why I observed and respected the first two Skate games from a safe distance when I heard them described with such terms as “authentic,” “technical,” and “requires skill and patience.”
Apparently, Skate 3 might be for me, because some of the new things Black Box is doing with the third game is geared toward softening that hardcore-only connotation. Features like a new “easy” mode, and the ability to turn on slow-motion during trick training so that you really can get a handle on the tricks you’re trying to pull off, with the idea being that you can eventually work your way up to being awesome in normal time. Also, Jason Lee (“Mallrats,” “My Name is Earl”) plays the role of Coach Frank, your helpful and humorous advisor when you first start out.
But that’s just for people like me. For players who have already invested large amounts of time into the first two games, Skate 3’s got improvements across the board. A major focus this time is on the idea of team skating. Following the progression of the series so far (trying to turn pro, making and maintaining a pro career), you’re now in charge of assembling your own skate team. Offline, the team is comprised of yourself and A.I.-controlled teammates. Online, though, your real friends are on the team, and the career objective is to sell 1 million custom skateboards. You do this in the standard video game fashion: by successfully completing challenges and objectives. But you can also collaborate as a team: everything is online and cooperative, which means that if you’re having trouble with a tricky trick, you can bring in a more qualified friend to help you nail it. And every completed objective as a team generates board sales for each individual team member’s career total, so the incentive to share is prominent.
Sharing is actually prominent throughout Skate 3. The skate.reel video sharing makes its return, alongside the debut of skate.graphics, a web-based graphical tool that allows for custom team logos and graphics. Custom-built skate parks can be distributed throughout the community as well, via the web site or an in-game browser (everything but the skate.graphics can be shared via web or in-game; graphics is online-only).
Here at PAX East, we also saw two new tricks added to the roster: the underflip and the darkslide. Other mechanical changes include increasing the max-speed push limit to 5 pushes (which previously was 3) for finer control of speed, the addition of a “Hardcore” difficulty level that really pushes the more elite skaters (grind assist virtually disappears, for example), and an array of online modes:
- “1-UP”: Up to three teams of 3 skaters compete on 20 second runs for the most amount of points. But if just one of the skaters bails, the whole team loses out. Should make for some interesting in-game chatter!
- “Domination”: Teams (or individuals) try to establish high scores in 10 zones on the map; the team with the most points after 2 minutes is the winner.
- “Own the Lot”: Like “Domination,” but instead of point totals, teams need to complete special objectives in certain map locations (such as “score 10,000 points on a certain obstacle”). First team to successfully complete all the objectives wins.
Skate 3’s release looms close, and even though it’s the third installment, it seems like there’s plenty new for old and new players alike.