Skate 3 preview
Becoming Electronic Arts’ little game that could, the Skate franchise is back with their latest installment (and quite possibly last on this generation of consoles) for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Always drawing from their online community to influence the evolution of their series, EA Black Box has concentrated on team-based affairs and an online-centric approach to keep players coming back for me.
Before moving on, here’s a quick overview of the franchise. The original put players in the shoes of a 'zero becoming a hero' in the skating world. The second followed a Job-like story from the Bible as players were put through trials and tribulations (jail, anyone?) and made the players endure the bad to get to the good. Now, the third has players moving on being just a professional and attempt to take the skating world by storm with turning themselves into an entrepreneur.
In attempt to become an entrepreneur, players will put together a stable of skaters through the Career Mode and have their progress tracked through board sales. The more board sales that player is able to rack up – anything the player does in the game earns them board sales – the more skaters and customizable items they’ll unlock through the game. One item that we unlocked in our short hands-on session was a OG Logo hat by surpassing 250,000 boards sold.
The customization of the player and logos has been fine tuned to the highest level the series has seen. Shirts, boards, hats, pants, shoes, and many other various items can be tinkered with to create a unique character. Having items that need to be unlocked ensures longevity; coupled with the ability to customize graphics and to graft them or tattoos anywhere on the body or clothing is going to yield hours of gaming excellence for the fans.
The custom graphics are allowed to be used online and players can utilize the feature to further customize online teams, which function in the same manner a guild or clan would. Online teams allow up to 12 players per team and six players per online session. The web integration has been ramped up (it is already possible to create teams through the Web) and sharing uniquely created parks (100 max), graphics and replays via download should provide those on the edge solid reasoning for trading in their copy of Skate 2 for Skate 3. With the ability to have their mark known within the online Skate community – everything they create and upload will have their tag placed on the content – players should find the online aspects of Skate 3 to be a leap in quality over past iterations.
EA Black Box hasn’t forgotten about the uninitiated; the dev team has implemented an easy difficulty level for gamers who are new to the series. If that doesn’t grab their attention, EA Black Box cast Jason Lee (My Name is Earl) as Coach Frank, a ‘70s-like high school gym teacher, in the role of the tutor for players through the Skate.School (training/tutorial mode) to draw them in. Once players finish Skate.School, they’ll unlock Coach Frank as a skater, so it’s essential to complete for his likeness alone.
Skate 3 is set for release on May 11 and will feature a compelling soundtrack (even including the one and only Neil Diamond) to keep players itching for more wipeouts and death-defying stunts.