In each edition of So I Tried… I will try a game that I have never tried before. Will I find something new to love? Will I find something new to despise? I'll take a full half-hour, no matter how bad it gets or how badly I do, to see if this is the game for me. This time I went for the Xbox 360 version of Skate 3 (played on Xbox One).
What I Thought It Was
Growing up on Tony Hawk’s games taught me that skateboards are, for all intents and purposes, wooden flying carpets; stepping onto one instantly gives a person the ability to perform miraculous acts of gravity-defying aerial acrobatics. The older I get, the more I suspect that—maybe—there are one or two elements of fantasy to this notion. I fully expected Skate 3 to take this inkling and smack me over the head with it until I was bloody, bruised and begging for the warm embrace of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and its multi-dozen trick combos. I expected a simulation, one that would seem, frankly, a little off-putting to me and my Pro Skater sensibilities.
I was also vaguely familiar with Skate 3’s right analogue stick-based trick system; this wasn’t inherently alarming to me. Having played Olli-Olli, which adopts a similar system, I felt confident in my ability to navigate that particular learning curve without too much difficulty. “Too much” being the key phrase here. It still was going to be far from easy—I knew THAT much.
What It Actually Is
Very much the kind of simulation I was expecting, at least in gameplay terms. The aforementioned right stick-based trick system, indeed, wasn’t a world apart from Olli Olli’s arcadey skating shenanigans, but it was far less snappy. The character too was far weightier than any other skating game I’d played before, and my own created character, Billy Stankwater, suffered as a result. In just half an hour, he fell victim to enough misjudged ollies and overzealous stunts to fill up an entire ‘skating bail compilation’ YouTube video. Just like real skating, it takes a lot of practise to achieve anything other than sucking. Needless to say, I was terrible, but my constant failures made the precious few victories genuinely rewarding. Oh, and when I say “victory”, I do just mean “successfully pulling off any trick other than any ollie”.
Tonally, Skate 3 took me by surprise. For all its merciless gameplay and realistic physics, the game’s unashamedly goofy as hell. The opening cutscene (filmed in live action) dives straight into the silliness with what’s essentially a montage of real-life skating figures goofing around a pretend construction site. It’s fun and feels shockingly earnest from a company like EA. The entire cutscene serves as a great “hey, don’t take any of this too seriously because we sure won’t” disclaimer.
Will I Keep Playing?
Oh definitely! I don’t much care for the ‘selling skateboards’ story setup, but as long as the focus remains on kickflipping the boards and not, just… flipping them, I’m happy to ride this one out. I haven’t exhausted my energy with Skate 3 in a mere half an hour. While these eyes may never see credits, they’re certainly ready to witness a lot more of what this game has to offer.
I’m hoping for more complex mission objectives, more customisation options and a lot more of Coach Frank (the tutorial character voiced by My Name is Earl star, Jason Lee). With any combination of these three, I can’t see Skate 3 disappearing from my Xbox One hard drive any time soon. That is, until Skate 4 comes out… whenever that might be.