Skate 3 Preview
Most will agree that Tony Hawk: Ride didn’t live up to nearly anyone’s expectations, making Black Box’s job much easier when developing the third iteration of the Skate franchise. They didn’t let this get to their head, though, and it’s evident early on that the developer has learned from the mistakes in Skate 2, leading to a sequel that goes above and beyond the last game. Luckily, there weren’t too many problems to correct, so the time spent cleaning up errors from the previous title was brief, allowing for opportunities to implement new elements that should give fans of the series plenty to get excited about.
This time around, there has been a change in location. The last game took place in a city with its foot on the neck of the common skater, meaning much of the game was spent freeing the streets of police oppression. This time around, the new area is much more skater friendly, almost to the level of parody. Port Carverton, as it’s called, is a skateboarder’s paradise, with a city that looks like it was built from the ground up for boards. Even more than that, security guards, who would chase players out of great spots in the original, will actually point them out here, and the average civilian will cheer on anyone found grinding a park bench. This new atmosphere has a friendly vibe, which should be a stark contrast to Skate 2’s desaturated, grainy streets.
The approach of “skateboarding is not a crime” permeates the game, from the city streets to the Skate School, run by Jason Lee’s Coach Frank. Frank will guide players through extremely enhanced tutorials, teaching tricks in a much more intuitive way. Instead of just telling players how to do a trick and watching them fail time and time again, the game will freeze skaters in mid-air, showing the commands to make it easier for anyone to play. On that same note, additional control types have been added, including an easy mode for those new to the series, and an expert mode for anyone looking for more of a challenge. They’re all still based on the flick-it commands, but it should pick up anyone who is finally ready to jump the gap from Hawk to Skate, while allowing diehards to have more to do.
On that same note, there is certainly more to do for everyone in Skate 3. In the second game, some small elements allowed players to hop off their boards to move around things in the environment, playing on the real-life tendency of skaters to create their own small skate parks from objects like benches. It was limited to the objects already in the world, though, something Skate 3 solves by adding an Object Dropper to create objects just about anywhere. This same option is available in a full-blown skate park creator, allowing players to upload and download massive, intricate skate parks online, earning board sales for the creation of successful areas. Board sales are the game’s currency, rewarded for not only level creation, but also completing challenges and uploading videos as well. In the last game, putting created videos online was a one-way deal, with no reward beyond watching the views climb. Now, it’s an integral part of the game, if the player chooses, giving more choice on how to play.
There’s still much to learn about Skate 3, like the expanded Hall of Meat and enhanced online functionality, but Black Box is keeping some of their cards close to their chest right now. Hopefully we’ll find out soon, since this sequel looks like one worth keeping an eye on for any fans of the genre.