Welcome to an EA review. Usual protocol. We’ll be discussing whether or not this sequel adds anything new, exactly how much you can expect EA to sodomise your wallet and how dreadful the soundtrack is. You know, the standard EA discussion points. Actually scratch that. Yes, it’s a sequel too far (that’s if Skate 2 wasn’t already). Yes, EA have made the content sharing an unlockable feature that is free if you buy the game new but 800M$P if you’re renting or going the pre-owned route (truly, their cuntery has only just begun). Oh and yes, the soundtrack is fucking dreadful. Apart from ODB and that weird tune from Silence of the Lambs.
With that out of the way, let’s discuss the game and the handful of minor improvements Skate 3 brings. The first main change is that, after two titles being set in San Vanelona, the action has moved to the fictional city of Port Carverton. The truth is that the new locations are really just reinterpretations of the old ones with the usual mix of residential, business and industrial areas along with a myriad of skateparks ranging from street-based efforts to massive transitional vert parks. It does all feel incredibly familiar despite being a new city but does have the benefit of being skater-friendly which means no fucking about with security guards and all that nonsense. It’s a small change but a very, very welcome one. I mean you wouldn’t put pitch-invaders in FIFA would you?
The city itself looks a little nicer than before benefiting from Skate 3’s clearer visuals and objectives are highlighted with bright blue lines which makes identifying your spot a doddle. Customisation of your skater (via the game) or logos (via the EA site) is still horribly limited though and needs a massive upgrade for the next game (which will probably have a stupid name like Skate:grind Skate or Skate 2011).
As mentioned before, there are a handful of updates to the gameplay. By far the most welcome is that there are no longer separate lists for single player and co-op challenges. Now any objective can be completed with or without a friend. Co-op play is a help on some challenges and a hindrance on others but is the recommended way forward as playing with a friend makes the game far more enjoyable. The challenges can now be attempted at Easy, Normal and Hardcore difficulties with the game letting you mix them up as you like. The overall difficulty is a whole lot less than the original Skate and its easier sequel.
Another welcome improvement is the introduction of a new challenge type, 1UP, that sees you competing with other skaters to beat their score until one of you loses a life. It’s a great mode and, even better, it replaces the S.K.A.T.E. mode (although that is still available as a multiplayer mode). This change is as close to an acknowledgement from EA that the analogue controls aren’t as super-precise as they need to be as we’re going to get. The ‘Hall of Meat’ bailing challenges also seem to be a lot more enjoyable this time around.
Of course, EA have added a few token moves. These are underflips and darkslides and, typically, they add basically nothing to the gameplay and probably won’t be a big part of your repetoire when hunting down big scores in tournaments and the like. They are easily accessed though, so you can’t complain, and at least EA haven’t gone down the awful parkour route yet. Or thrown in BMX bikes. Eesh…
EA do seem quite keen to push the team aspect of this game, allowing you to create you own team and customise more graphics for them. There’s a lot of stat-tracking going on which is all well and good but if your human buddies aren’t online, some of the team stuff can be completed with an AI team-mate. This usually involves you winning and them dragging you down to a defeat. Although, in the AI stakes, at least the brain-dead fucking pedestrians from the previous games aren’t such a problem now, especially as they can be shooed away with gestures from the d-pad.
Online play is as it was before with the usual mix of modes and locations. That said, getting a game seems a lot harder now which may be due to people not bothering or EA’s online service being typically rubbish. Either way, the online achievements in the game should take no less than an hour to get through for experienced players which is better than the massive grindfest that was Skate 2. Of course, the customisation options mean that most of your opponents will be dressed as complete cunts. Still, it’s an EA game and their communities are always the worst.
With plenty of skate park building options, there is scope for some longevity – you can also download parks from other players – but after two Skate games, and all of Skate 2’s DLC, most players will be bored of this in a couple of weeks. That’s not to say it’s not a great game. It is, and it’s an addictive one as well. But Skate 3 proves that, as with Tony Hawk Pro Skater¸ this genre can only really support a few titles in a series before jumping the shark. Hopefully, Skate 4 will either bring some fresh gameplay to the table or, better yet, just won’t happen. But, for now, I have to admit it was nice to burn through Skate 3, especially in co-op.
Of course, I’m going to hate the fucking thing once EA get all the DLC out of their system. Fucking EA.
Single-player can be maxed in three days if you plough some hours in each day. Nothing too taxing, far easier than Skate and Skate 2. You can quick travel to each challenge and there is no penalty for dropping down to Easy difficulty - but you probably won't need to.
Multiplayer is far more relaxed than the previous games. Only a handful of achievements to get, although the achievement for playing in a six man team can be tricky given that there aren't that many people playing (and EA Nation is down a lot).
This being EA, there's a rubbish, ungettable achievement. That'll unlock eventually when EA fix their game. Expect this to TA out at 1500 eventually.