EA takes a shot at the Birdman.
Preview by Aaron Drewniak (Email)
August 30th 2007
The original Tony Hawk Pro Skater began an extreme sports boon in the videogame world, spawning what had once seemed like an endless array of imitators, but the fad was short-lived, and in the end the originator was only extreme skater left standing. Tony Hawk has had this genre pretty much to himself these past few years, but that's all about to change with EA's heavyweight challenger, skate.
Where the imitators of THPS borrowed the game's base and occasionally tossed in ideas of their own, skate. digs right down to the roots, completely changing how skating is played. Gone is the easy grind, trick, and even ollie buttons. Nearly every action is now controlled with the right analogue stick, in a system EA has dubbed "flickit." So what's this mean? To ollie, you've got to bring the stick down, and then pop straight up, just as a skater would lower his own body to pop his board into the air. Different combinations of motions on the stick produce a large array of tricks that are just a little more challenging and just a little more natural to bring the whole deal a little closer to the extreme sport it takes its name after. Where going from a flip trick to a grind to a manual was something anyone could do blindfolded in Tony Hawk, here it takes a little more effort, and so nailing a good line is that much more rewarding.
Visuals are sharp, and the ride is smooth. The camera mimics most skater videos with its fisheye lens focused on the board, though it's also the best spot to make sure you make a clean landing on your big air. There's also a fairly extensive replay feature, that allows you to edit up and post your best tricks on EA's own website for the world to see. Other than that, it feels much like THPS4 and on with a fairly open world (which was originated in Aggressive Inline anyway), and various challenges just waiting for your attention. The developers are also promising a fairly robust online mode as well, but we'll just have to wait for the retail version for that, arriving in less than two weeks.