Pretentious use of punctuation in a game title aside, I can’t stress enough how much skate. made me smile while playing.
Somewhere between the 10th and 30th time I tried to nail a certain trick off a ledge onto a rail the game did cease to be fun in a traditional sense. But fun in a strangely satisfying way. Hitting a spectacular trick wasn’t common like it is in Tony Hawk, wherein you routinely bust out crazy tricks jumping a 200 ft. gap between buildings, but instead a rarity that seemed to be reward all it’s own.
I stopped trying to beat the “story” mode on several occasions and began idly skating around Vanelona looking for interesting ways to test my skill and the game’s limits. It wasn’t until much later in the game when you unlock the mega ramps that the realism of the game breaks down, until then I found myself trying to constantly test the game for when I would see a sign of the old Tony Hawk style automated gameplay.
I don’t think I ever found that point.
It is most pleasing to see the power of next-gen gaming systems put to use for a cause other than graphics. Most next-gen games pride themselves on more pixels shaders and lighting effects. While skate. has those in spare (ooooh, lens effects), it also has one of the coolest physics systems I’ve seen in a while. Where grinding isn’t a matter of skating near a ledge and hitting a button to attach yourself to it, but grinding is based on how the board lands on the rail and moving the position of the board in air yields different grinds.
At times the system used can feel like Tony Hawk’s series’, but it mostly feels streamlined and intuitive. Once you learn the basics of the system you can quickly find new moves in a few minutes of tinkering. You begin to think of doing a tailslide as putting the back of the board on the rail and not as: “do ollie, press left, press grind button”. I feel more like I’m controlling my character (who will never look like you no matter how hard you try due to the limiting create a character mode) and less like I’m playing a game.
I even found myself spending all too much time fiddling with the replay editor whenever I had a particularly spectacular bail. Even if the bone crunching sounds were almost too hokey.
If there is a point to criticize it would be the dialogue, of which there is thankfully little, which never fails to disappoint. I wonder if skaters who play this game are embarrassed by how goofy and useless the characters are portrayed in this game. But skaters probably aren’t playing this game, they’re probably out skating.