EA Games Finally Learns How to “Skate”

In 1999, Extreme Sports burst onto the video game scene with the game “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater” for the original Playstation.

In the past eight years, the skateboarding genre has been dominated by this powerhouse with 10 sequels, the most recent of which comes out next month. This game has met very little resistance, until now.

EA Blackbox has developed a game for the XBox 360 and Playstation 3 that will be published by EA Games, known simply as “Skate.” EA hopes to break the mold of the skating game set forth by the THPS series.

Set in the fictional setting of San Vanelona, this game is about a skater’s dream: start from nothing, end up getting sponsored, being featured on the cover of a magazine, and eventually skating at the X-Games.

They plan on doing this with a completely reworked style of gameplay known as “FlickIt”. Instead of pressing a button on the controller to perform an Ollie, the basic jump trick that is the foundation of almost every other trick, you tilt the right control stick down, and then literally flick it upwards.

Every trick is essentially an expansion upon this scheme; the right stick controlling the skateboard, the left controlling the body.

The demo for game was recently released on the XBox Live Marketplace, and so I had a chance to try it out. It starts with a simple tutorial explaining how to use the new “FlickIt” control scheme. Within seconds, I was performing kickflips and pop shuvits.

The demo then goes on to describe how to move around and put some variety on your tricks such as rotations, tweaks, and grabs. Long gone are the days of a 720 McTwist Triple Heelflip; now you must work with real world physics to pull off your tricks.

Once you finish the tutorial, the demo gives you a brief introduction to the “skate.reel” feature, which allows you to go 30-60 seconds into the past to make a short video clip of whichever trick you just performed.

You can change camera angles, slow down, speed up, add lenses, or even add cool effects to the video, then you can choose to either upload it to the game’s website, or save it on your hard drive for future viewings.

Once you’re done with that, you’re sent into the small skate park to explore and master your skills and generally have fun.

There are a few optional events you can do to learn how to do things like manuals, or challenges like “perform a flip trick into or out of a grind”, but most of the time you get in the 30-minute demo time is just to have fun.

Visually, the game is stunning. EA has taken full advantage of the Hi-Def capabilities of the 360, and one can only assume the PS3 version is just as good.

The amount of details on the skater and the board are only surpassed by the backdrops that are aesthetically appealing and perfect for the setting.

This game is coming out on Sept. 14 for the 360, and Sept. 24 for the PS3, and I recommend this game to anyone who has long been a fan of the Tony Hawk’s series, those who want something different, or even those who want to get into the genre for the first time.

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