An otherwise decent control scheme is marred by poor execution.
When the original Skate kick flipped onto the Xbox 360 and PS3 it redefined the genre. After countless iteration of the Tony Hawk series the revolutionary “flick-it” controls of Skate were a welcome breath of fresh air and gamers quickly abandoned the bird man in favour of this more nuanced and sim like take on the skating genre. With Skate 3 still warm on retail shelves EA have seen fit to port across the Nintendo DS version of Skate It to the iDevices and charge a fairly modest £3.99 for it. It all sounds good on paper but unfortunately it doesn’t actually play all that well.
Control wise your typical virtual joystick has been replaced with an intriguing swipe based mechanic. You get speed up be pressing a foot shaped button in the lower right corner while your ollie’s and flip tricks ar alle performed by swiping, so for instance you will swipe straight up to ollie or swipe to the left to do a kick flip and so on. Turning and mid-air rotations are all achieved by tilting. It sounds okay on paper but the swiping can be infuriatingly unresponsive. There are few things more annoying than having lined yourself up for a good trick line only to miss the jump onto a rail because the game decided to arbitrarily disregard your ollie swipe. That’s just not cool. Similarly the game sometimes struggles to recognise two quick successive swipes meaning if you have a two tiered obstacle it is common for you to successfully jump the first tier only to plough into the second obstruction, again due to unresponsive controls.
Technical failures aren’t limited to just the controls either. Sometimes jumping against a vertical surface or just dropping off a ledge will see your skater suddenly snap to that vertical surface and try and skate along it. At this point gravity decides that this shouldn’t be happening which causes a peculiarly jarring bail animation. I encountered a few other similar issues with bails throughout my play through but the general gist for you to take away is that they tend to look glitchy and unnatural more often than they look convincing.
All is not lost however. For your money you are getting a hell of a lot of game. You’ve got a fairly extensive character creator and once you have your customised little man (or woman) you have the full career mode from the Nintendo DS version to play through. This is made up of individual challenges such as “grind this rail and get over 600 points” or “ollie over this bench”. Successful completion of these tasks will unlock new levels and pieces you can use in the skate park editor. Yes that’s right, for £3.99 you also get a fully functional skate park editor with loads of pieces to mess around with. It’s certainly nothing on the main console park editors but for an iPhone game I couldn’t help but be impressed.
Visually Skate It is a very mixed bag. The character models are pretty ugly, especially when you see them up close in the character creator, but on the whole they serve their purpose. The environments and levels are also fairly inconsistent, while some look really rather impressive with lots of details and well thought out areas others are downright terrible. The colour palette across the whole game is fairly drab (as you can probably tell from the screenshots), I suspect this was to convey the realism and sim-like nature of the title but sadly it just leaves you feeling as though you’re skating through Croydon on a grey day.
All said Skate 3 is not a bad game; unfortunately it also isn’t a good game by a long measure. It’s average, its standard, its borderline moderate. It’s kind of a generic medium regular. Sure it’s packed with content and a wealth of tricks to learn but when the controls are fighting you and the odd glitch is ruining your perfect run there comes a point where you just have to hang up your deck and concede defeat. Hardcore skating enthusiasts will certainly get a lot out of this title, specifically those willing to explore the depths of the skate park editor, but for the rest of us there are far more deserving EA titles in the App Store.
- Sound: 8
- Graphics: 6
- Gameplay: 5
- Longevity: 6
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