You swerve through the crowds of pedestrians as you carve down the pavement. Ahead is a rail, you pull back on the analogue stick as you approach it. You then flick it upwards sending you through the air and landing cleanly on the rail, 50-50 style.

It really was about time to get another skateboarding game out there to give the never-ending Tony Hawk franchise a challenge. And what a challenge it is. Tony Hawk may even be playing it at this very moment! This is a major milestone for skating games and will prove to the Hawk series that they’re going to have to do a lot better. The main objective of Skate is to get onto the cover of both The Skateboarding Magazine and Thrasher magazine – another change from Tony Hawk’s repetitive storylines.

In career mode you start off watching a clip of yourself getting run over whilst being filmed skating. You’re then taken to hospital for surgery. At this point you get to decide what your character is going to look like by choosing from different hairstyles, body shapes, clothes accessories and most importantly of all, your skateboard. Your skateboard is customised in 4 parts including Deck, Trucks, Wheels and Tuning. All of the clothes and skateboard parts have brand names like Almost, DC, Enjoi and Fallen for you to pick from. After you have been let out of hospital you start at a skate park and engage in some light tutorials on the game’s basic controls. After completing the tutorials you are then highlighted some challenges and other more advanced tutorials. If you’re not one to jump in right away you can then skate around town for as long as you desire, getting used to the controls or composing sequences. Throughout the game you will compete in various challenges and competitions which will unlock new playable characters in freeskate modes, new challenges, pro-skater videos to watch and various clothing items.

The controls are very interesting and require much more than just button-bashing to get a high score on a trick. Your body and board are controlled by the analogue sticks and whenever they’te moved the character follows. There are countless tricks that are available for you to perform and can also be done just as well in an ollie position. Manuals and grinds are not overshadowed by a balance meter, giving the game a greater sense of realism. For a manual you basically just pull up on the left analogue stick slowly and hold it. Grinds are slightly harder, requiring you to be lined up and above the object you want to grind. You also have to control pushing yourself using the X button for your left foot and the A button for your right. What’s even better is the tricks actually show the direction of the spin of the board therefore teaching you how to skate in real life. This new control system is easy to learn but challenging to master, leaving players feeling they have accomplished something after landing a trick.

The game is set in San Vanelona and is split into 4 different parts, including the Suburbs, the Res, Downtown and Old Town, all of which are accessible from the word go. This is a skater’s paradise and offers rails, benches, tables, walls and so many more items for you to perform tricks on. However there are certain places you can’t go to from the very start and will require you to play through the game to unlock them. Prepare to just skate around the map thousands of times before even thinking about trying any challenges. Also as you travel around you may come across certain ‘spots’ which you want to ‘own’ by beating the highest score set on them.

The graphics in this game are stunning. The detail to your surroundings and characters are enormous and everything looks amazingly next- gen. It makes you want to skate around the whole map all day long looking at every building and pavement.

In all of San Vanelona there are cars and pedestrians, both of which can knock you off your board if bashed into. There are also the dreaded security guards. These fast guys wear yellow coats so are easy to spot but will fine you if they catch you when skating around ‘no-skate zones’. An added bonus is other skaters who you could follow around the whole map if you wanted and watch them perform tricks and grinds. They may even lead you to some good spots to skate. Both pedestrians and skaters sometimes drop comments like ‘I’ve read about you’ if you have been in a skating magazine. There are also some pro-skaters in the game, such as Chris Cole, Danny Way, Mark Gonzales, Mike Carroll, Paul Rodriguez, Chris Haslam, Dennis Busenitz and Jerry Hsu. These guys appear when pro challenges are set and can even help you land a sponsorship, if you’ve got the skill that is. Sponsors include Almost, Zero, DC, Alien Workshop and many others. When you pick a sponsorship you will get a free item from their clothing line and get paid more money when winning competitions.

Onto the realism of the game. Unlike Tony Hawk games Skate doesn’t let you ollie up to space. Many people have been complaining about the fact that when you hit a kerb you fall off your board. I totally disagree with this. You wanted realistic, you got it. That’s exactly what would happen to you if you skated into a kerb.

Multiplayer is also available in Skate via Party Play. Party Play is for 2- 4 players on one console. Players choose their character from the pros unlocked or the character used for Career Mode. Then they pick out of a game of S.K.A.T.E where a player sets a trick and the others must copy or Spot Battle where whoever gets the highest score on a certain spot wins. Players then take it in turns to have their attempt.
Xbox Live on Skate features Ranked and Unranked matches, each Categorised into Trick and Race events. Trick events include Spot Battles, Jams, Best Trick Contests and S.K.A.T.E events. Race events include Deathrace and Spot Race events. A new online mode is Freeskate which is when you don’t have to do anything and can just socialise with new people while skating. Or if you don’t feel like skating but want to learn from the best then you can use Skate TV. This is where you can join ranked or unranked matches online as a spectator, therefore watching all the best tricks and sequences to help you become a better skater.
Another great feature is the Skate Reel which is where you can view, download and rate other skater’s videos and photos. You can also upload your own, allowing others to rate them. Before uploading your own though, you can edit them. You can shorten the length of them, change the colour effect, adjust the camera angles and slow or speed them up. This feature is great and really helps the player compare themselves to other gamers and if someone doesn’t believe you did a certain trick you can prove it. This is a very similar feature to the Halo 3 Video Sharing.

The audio side of Skate never failed to impress me. The grinds, riding over bumpy surfaces and ‘popping’ the skateboard sound amazingly realistic. Everything you do has a sound to it and cars beep their horns at you if you get in their way. Sometimes the pedestrians even start talking to each other. There’s background music as well featuring artists such as Cheap Trick, Motorhead, Nirvana and The White Stripes. You can also choose which music you don’t want to play and even make up playlists using the music provided.







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