October 5, 2007
(EA; 360; $59.99)
It used to be it was impossible to think of skateboarding and video games and not immediately think about Activision's "Tony Hawk" franchise. So many publishers have tried and failed to match the arcade-style action in the Activision games, but EA's "Skate" may just knock old Tony off his pedestal.
A great deal of the credit is owed to the game's control scheme, which has most of the controls in the two analog sticks and the triggers (as opposed to button-mashing, or a combination of button-mashing and stick). The left stick controls the movements of your skater. The right stick controls your board moves and tricks. Things are more fluid and fun.
Career mode does feature a bizarre story of sorts. It begins with you getting hit by a bus and having to go in for much plastic surgery (thus explaining in a realistic yet creepy way why you are able to pick the physical attributes of your skater a la "The Sims"). After the bandages come off, the game then takes a page from EA's "SSX" snowboarding franchise and has you completing different tasks to get your photo in a skateboarding magazine. Get good enough and you'll eventually compete in big competitions like the X Games.
There are also so free-roaming challenges and you can pretty much skate all around the city without any load times. It's fairly impressive given the amount of detail in the city.
Where "Skate" loses its wheels is in online play. With five other gamers stuck vying for time on the cement playground with you, it becomes less a game of skating and more one akin to bumper cars. While the collisions are initially spectacular to watch, you'll grow frustrated with it. It is something that is easily fixed in the sequel and based on the quality of gameplay in career mode, "Skate" deserves a second romp.
(Rated T for blood, gore, crude humor, language, mild violence and tobacco reference)