FutureFive NZ - Skate – Xbox 360

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Skate – Xbox 360

In recent memory the only skateboarding games of real worth have come from the immensely popular Tony Hawk franchise. Many have tried to emulate the arcade like, fast-moving style of play flag shipped by the series and have flopped, but EA’s new game immediately seeks to set itself away from this with a far more simulation heavy game. With a totally new control scheme nothing short of revolutionary, this is skateboarding as you’ve never seen it before.

First and foremost, the ‘flickit’ control scheme, which has gone the way of almost every EA Sports game. Your skateboards’ movement has been assigned to the left analogue stick, but instead of just pushing up on the stick, players have to rhythmically tap the face buttons to speed up.

On the right analogue stick, you’ll control how you jump and flip your board. So for a simple jump or “Ollie”, you push down to bend then flick it up to leap into the air. Basic flips are done by flicking the stick slightly to the left or right instead of straight up. This is the basic set and is fairly easy to get the hang of, but from here out it gets a little more complicated.

The left and right triggers grab your board in the air and then the right stick becomes your friend as you tweak and change these grabs using a system with huge depth. Grinding, an integral part of skating, has been redefined. Rather than the tap of a button to leap up onto a rail, you’ll instead have to line yourself up, jump and then land on your target before picking your grind. While that may sound simple, it takes practice to get it right, as do all the moves in Skate which make them all the more satisfying to pull them off.

With this type of control scheme, what really determines its success is the responsiveness of the controls. Skate really excels here with every minute movement perfectly translated to the screen. Whether it be in the lead up to, the landing or the actual trick the movement of your skater is superb unlike the pre-fabricated animations seen in other games.

There’s a very loose storyline to the career mode, which starts off with you getting mangled up in a bus smash and choosing how you’d like the reconstructive surgeon to make you look. Once recovered the goal is to get noticed by winning events and recording footage of yourself. There are plenty of photo goals as you’re trying to get picked up by magazines, but also here are Multiskater and free-form footage goals.

Multiskater competitions provide some cool variety, events like best trick contests; downhill slalom races and time trick battles are really entertaining. Free-form footage goals require you to complete a variety of tasks within 30 seconds. Half of the challenge in these is actually finding the right part of the city where you can complete every aspect of the goal.

What’s different with Skate compared with the traditional skating games is that all of the tricks are unlocked from the start. There’s also no skill or stat points to earn, the only thing you can improve is your personal skill through practice.

As well as the career mode, there is a multitude of multiplayer modes to play. These provide some fun for you and your friends, playing S.K.A.T.E, a game reminiscent of H.O.R.S.E, Jam, a timed event one by the highest scorer, in addition to races, best trick contests and more! When the online play is working,
it’s much of the same and works well.

Presentation-wise Skate is just as impressive. The graphics look great and the animations are superb. The skaters and the environment are superb. The frame rate stays constant throughout too. The soundtrack is fitting if not a little strange, and the in game audio is realistic sounding.

EA has taken some definite risks in making a game to challenge the Tony Hawk series where all others have failed. The result is a revolutionary game that has set a new benchmark for extreme sports games. Any player who has even a remote interest in sports needs to add Skate to their collection.

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