skate Review

Last year, if you had told me a skateboarding game outside of the Tony Hawk titles would catch on as quickly and as suddenly as EA’s skate, I would have said you were an idiot. And if I had told you that EA would create one of the most innovative games of the year, you probably would have said I was an idiot in return.

That’s what makes skate such a surprising title. Not only does this first entry rival Tony Hawk for the skating throne, but its new control scheme and refreshing take on the sport breathes life into what was a very stale genre plagued by the Madden syndrome.

In skate, you don’t control your skater by jumping with one button, grabbing with another, flipping the board with another, etc. Instead, EA Black Box took a page from games like Fight Night, mapping just about all of your actions to the right analog stick. As you move your skater around with the left stick, you use the right to perform all your tricks; for some variations such as holds you need to hold a trigger button (which controls your hands), but it’s still basically performed with the right stick. 




Tricks are pulled off by doing things such as pulling the stick back then pushing it forward (ollie) or front to back (nollie). It’s all fluid and intuitive, and if you can perform it on a real skateboard and can flickit right, you can pull it off in the game. It sounds odd if you haven’t played it — and it takes quite a while to get used to — but it just works, and it feels real. skate is a game that will frustrate you for quite a while (especially if you go into a S.K.A.T.E contest before you truly understand the controls…) before you find yourself comfortable enough to truly enjoy it.

One of the things that just makes it more fun than Tony is the sense of accomplishment. When you get used to the game and pull off some nice moves (on purpose or accidental) and your friends see it, there’s a lot more pride than tapping buttons and spinning a lot or performing 3-minute grinds in Tony Hawk. Grinding in skate is more difficult and involves actually lining up the board, other tricks require great precision and concentration, and you can’t pull off nearly as much as in Tony Hawk — but that’s okay, because that makes what you do pull off all the better.

What also separates it from Tony Hawk is just the design of the environments. For once, we have a city that doesn’t have random halfpipes between school buses and giant rails spanning a basketball or tennis court for no practical reason. San Vanelona is a city designed after real cities, and skating there reflects that.

The city itself is split into four areas, and it’s massive. Without teleporting, it usually takes a little over 10 minutes to get from one side to the other on-wheels. Of course, there are areas which are incredibly difficult to skate through (reflecting the whole realism thing), but unfortunately you can’t get off your board to traverse them. It would be nice to have that option when in the free skate mode, but oh well. Maybe next year.

Another flaw with skate is just the camera itself. Since the right stick is used for moves, the camera’s control is entirely at the whim of the game, and it shows. There’s never anything too bad in terms of camera angles gone wrong, but there are plenty of times it will zoom in too far and you’ll be forced to stare at your skater’s knee or shin as you roll down the street.




One of Tony Hawk’s big features this year was the ability to record videos of your skater as you went about doing your business. Skate does this as well, and the online and website integration makes it a blast. I’m sure by now you’ve seen some skate.reel videos, so I won’t bother explaining how they look, but it really needed mention.

As a whole, skate is an incredibly solid game for non-skating fans, and for those who love the sport it’s the best game to come along in years. The new style of control will be copied by many games in the near future (and possibly Mr. Hawk next year), and EA Black Box deserves a lot of credit for pulling it off so well in their first effort. Whether or not you’re a skater, there’s no denying that skate is a great game, and a breath of fresh air the skateboarding genre sorely needed.


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Author: Brendon Lindsey View all posts by

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