E3 2007 Hands-On:
As I've mentioned before, EA may very well have had the best
3rd party showing during the entire show. SKATE was yet another
top-notch title they had on display in the Le Merigot Hotel.
Additionally, as we know EA is the only publisher who is capable
of going toe-to-toe with Activision's Tony Hawk. After playing
SKATE, it looks like EA has the advantage over the venerable
Hawk, and with only one iteration no less.
The first thing I noticed about SKATE was that the parks were
well designed. While the area is one seamless world, you aren't
forced to skate back and forth, so you can teleport to specific
locations via a train station feature, keeping the tedium to a
minimum. The parks are a mixture of realism and over the top
creations, and the look is always inspired. EA has certainly been
crafting this little gem for quite some time, and it shows.
From the first time I saw the game in its screenshots, I
immediately noticed how gorgeous the game looked. A lot of the
everyday naysayers were convinced that the screens were concept
renders and that the game would never have that kind of polish
and smoothness to it. Well, after playing the game in person, the
naysayers were wrong (as they frequently are). SKATE does look
every bit as good when being played, as it does in the
screenshots. Copious amounts of anti-aliasing make for a
jaggy-free picture, layered with gorgeous textures, and a
framerate that just won't quit.
The entire game is physics based, and that translates to
controls. So no 50 foot leaps with 1080 grabs and no more
mindless button mashing. SKATE's control system simply utilizes
the shoulder buttons and right analog stick. Want to ollie? Flick
the stick down and up; aim an ollie as you're approaching a rail,
and you'll perform a grind. Moreover, if in mid-air you're
angling your skater forward, the grin will be a lip-grind and if
you angle him sideways, the grind will become a frontside
boardslide. So as you can see, physics will be what you rely on
in order to pull off certain types of moves.
The control scheme works very well the game, even if it does take
some time getting used to. But beyond that, it's surprising that
it's taken a developer this long to think of a control scheme
where the unused analog stick controls a majority of the
skateboard. Also, the control flicking isn't just limited to
grinding, but board flips, as well. In addition to that, shoulder
buttons coupled with the analog stick will pull off grab moves.
Best of all, landing tricks in SKATE really feels rewarding and
satisfying. You genuinely feel like you've accomplished
something, and that's a far cry from how Tony Hawk is.
SKATE is definitely the skateboarding experience you don't want
to miss out on come this Fall. If you've been looking for
something that feels fresh and connects you to the game, this is
Preview below written May 28th, 2007:
For too long now Activision's Tony Hawk franchise has
dominated the skateboard genre. Other skateboard games came only
to quick leave. No publisher has been able to properly put
together a worthy competitor to Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, largely
because the developers who have attempted to do so didn't have
nearly as large a wallet as Activision. Well, that's all about to
change as Activision's biggest opponent, Electronic Arts, is set
to embark into the genre with SKATE.
In development exclusively for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360,
SKATE is set to redefine skateboarding games by offering the
gamer the most intuitive controls ever in a skateboarding game.
To capture the montaged skateboarding feel, SKATE will also
feature a plethora of various authentic camera angles that you
can use when you're pulling off your tricks.
"Our game offers a skate mecca for both skaters and gamers
in search of the definitive authentic skating video game
experience," said Scott Blackwood, executive producer, EA
Black Box. "We're focused on capturing the actual feeling of
skating with the innovative control system, the physics driven
animations, the intelligent cameras working together to really
deliver the closest thing to being on a board."
So as you can see, SKATE is poised to aim at realism, as opposed
to a button mashing contest and see who string the longest
combinations by grinding and manualing non-stop while throwing
in a few flips here and there. The game will be completely
physics driven, so if your timing isn't very precise, your skater
will likely pay for it with bruises. Best of all, EA promises
that with every play, no two tricks of yours will ever be the
What's most radically different about SKATE's controls is that it
doesn't utilize the face buttons for tricks. It actually uses the
right analog stick for total board control. How this setup works
is fairly easy, actually…if you want to ollie, you simply pull
the stick down and then snap it upward. Speed and timing of the
snap will make the height vary.
SKATE will have an extensive list of professional skaters, and
even Rob Dyrdek and his best-friend Big Black will be featured.
If you've ever seen the MTV reality show Rob & Big, Rob
Dyrdek traveled up to EA's studios to actually check out an early
build of SKATE. Take a look at the full list of skaters below:
* Chris Cole
* Danny Way
* Rob Dyrdek
* Christopher "Big Black" Boykin
* PJ Ladd
* Colin Mckay
* Mike Carroll
* Chris Haslam
* Jason Dill
* Ali Boulala
* Ryan Gallant
* Jerry Hsu
* Pat Duffy
* Paul Rodriguez
* John Rattray
* Dennis Busenitz
* Tommy Guerrero
* Mark Gonzales
* Graham Bickerstaff
* Antwuan Dixon
* Scott Pazelt
* Tony Alva
Based on what I've seen from SKATE in motion, the game does look
quite nice. It animates superbly well, and the gameplay looks
absolutely slick. I'm definitely eager to try it, so hopefully I
get to see it in person come this E3 in July. SKATE is expected
to ship at the end of September 07, and it's bound to take Tony
Hawk's Proving Ground head-on.