Skate Impressions

by Samm Bennett
I just played the Skate demo available on XBox live, and was rather surprised. EA is notorious for its lack of innovation, so I expected to experience a Tony Hawk clone. However, the game is far from a clone. Instead of the arcade style approach that the Tony Hawk series takes, Skate is much closer to a simulation. The "flick stick" method uses the right thumbstick as the board, and so you move the stick back and than push forward to perform an ollie (instead of tapping a button). The result is that performing moves becomes much more intuitive, and also provide a (limited) free form approach to tricks.

Air tricks are performed in a similar fashion. Holding the right or left trigger grabs the respective side of the board. While holding, moving the right stick tweaks the board in the appropriate direction.

Although very difficult, I rather enjoy the way the game handles grinds. In order to grind, you just need to land on an edge. This requires pretty guide timing, and so is rather difficult. However, this is how skateboarding works, and I like.

What I find to be quite interesting is that the game has two "push" buttons - one button makes the character push with the front foot (mongo) and the other makes the player push with the back foot (normal). It's attention to detail like this that really piques my interest in the game.

Skate also allows for gamers to edit their runs and upload them to the Skate reel gallery. This is a great feature, as there have been countless times where I wanted to show my friends an incredible combo in the Tony Hawk games. Of course, users of the site will be able to vote for favorites. Seems like some potential there, and could definitely increase replay value.

Granted, I see a lot of issues with it. There seems to be no manuals (but you can chain together your combo, which is actually a lot more realistic). Wall rides also seem to be missing. The worst part is that controlling you character, at least at first, is downright hard. Learning curve aside, I think the game has some real potential. After playing the demo, two questions remain unanswered: why is EA publishing this title now, after Neversoft/Activision has dominated with Tony Hawk for so long, and when does the game get released?