Skate 3 Review

The third entry in the main Skate series from Electronic Arts Black Box goes to great lengths to be more accessible to new players and casual fans, while simultaneously appealing to the hardcore audience with several key features. Multiplayer is the focus of this evolutionary step in the franchise along with the ability to design full skate parks and share them with the world.

Newcomers will find an expanded tutorial mode in skate.School narrated by Coach Frank (Jason Lee) along with a forgiving "easy" difficulty setting. On the other side of the coin, Black Box has also added a "hardcore" difficulty setting, which cranks up the physics for an added challenge. It is, however, sadly broken for some grinds making them more difficult than intended, but a downloadable patch fixing this issue should be on the way.

The narrative of the game is streamlined. You are "The Legend", a top skater working to sell skateboards by completing various challenges and competitions. Selling boards unlocks new characters, gear, and adds AI skaters to your team. Teams in multiplayer are a great thing. Teams offline are sort of pointless. It doesn't drive you forward as much as previous titles, but the narrative isn't the focus here.

Online play is where Skate 3 shines, supporting up to six players in any number of online activities and challenges. Thankfully, co-op has been done right here. Your offline character and online character are one in the same. All players in a multiplayer session will get credit for any completed challenges and sell more boards. Online activities can be serious as players work to complete challenges or ludicrous as they compete to see who can break more bones in Hall-of-Meat events.

The object-dropper will allow players to create and place skate-able objects in the game world, further customizing the experience. Think a rail would go really nicely next to that park bench? Drop it in! Gone are the caches of out-of-place objects to be moved around as most objects can be called up on-demand. Unfortunately, object dropper cannot be used online, but players can now move pre-placed objects online, which was not possible in Skate 2.

Customizable skate parks will ensure that Skate 3's life will last a long time as new skate spaces will be created by the community instead of waiting for official DLC like with Skate 2. Hardcore fans will want to dive in because of hardcore mode, teams, and the new spaces to skate. New players should enjoy easy mode and improved tutorials, but will probably be turned off by the weak narrative, which was stronger in the first two titles.

In the end, there aren't a lot of new moves (darkslides and underflips), but the improvements made to the game's online modes and customization options are worth checking out.

Skate 3 is available now on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 from Electronic Arts.

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