Having very much enjoyed, and still being an owner and player of, both Skate and Skate 2, I felt a level of excitement suddenly born inside myself when I heard a friend mention the existance of a demo of the third instalment being publically available. I’ve now managed to give it a play, to mixed feelings.
My first impressions were good. It appears that they’ve completely dropped the grunge act they had going in the first two games. Skate had erosion abundantly, its sequel not quite so much but still a fair bit. It seems now to be shiny, good-looking interface-wise and definitely an improvement. Having said that, I’m surprised they dropped it – as cliché and boring as it’s gotten over the last decade, it seems to be a staple for any game where its average player might refer to friends as “brothers” and anything that looks rather pleasant as “rad”, “cool”, “wicked”, or any other buzzword that got boring years ago but remains in heavy usage.

Before I got into the game I was given a set of options. These included a new difficulty mode (I started with “Normal”, more on this later), the choice between the two camera angles Skate 2 had (I chose the further-away, slightly-more-overhead one, the dynamic one makes me feel sick), and a choice between five characters (presumably a demo-only feature as the two before it had you make your own character).

So, into the game. I was greeted with some douche with an annoying face and a more annoying voice. I skipped his stuff as quickly as I could, completed the first task (with a rather pleasant 180 kickflip) then got away from the goals and went to spend my 20 minutes of demo time in the small allowed area.

I spent five minutes just trying out all my favourite, and all the generic, manoeuvres from Skate 2. The kickflips, the ollies, the twists, the grinds, the obligatory Hippie jumps etc. To be honest, it felt worse than 2. The Hippie jump in particular feels really floaty in comparison to the old version. Getting off your board and moving on foot, however, is much, much better. Skate 2’s walking was as good as broken, with what must’ve been an attempt at dynamic running ending up as spasticated can’t-turn-very-well running. With Skate 3, it’s whichever-way-the-stick-is-pointed that’s-the-direction-you-run-in. Lovely stuff. But the jumping (not really Hippie jumping because there’s no skateboard involved) is just as broken as its boarded counterpart.

I noticed something else which I didn’t like. The HUD is just as clean and beautiful as the menus, which is a positive. But the negative is that there’s no colour coding for multipliers. With Skate 2, 1.5x resulted in green, 2x resulted in yellow and 3x red. Now, 1.5x is blue, 2x blue and 3x… well, a slightly shinier blue. But it’s still blue so you have to physically glance down to see how many extra points you’re getting.

So, with the disappointment of the controls and everything down, I decided to try out the other two difficulty modes to see if they made it better. They did nothing. I couldn’t tell the difference between the three. All I know is that if I do get the game in the future I’ll be playing it on Hardcore because it’ll probably net me more trophies.

I can’t comment a huge amount on the music because I’m sure that, being a demo, it’s only partial. But the tracks the demo had were crap. I gave them the whole 20 minutes just to see if I started enjoying them after a while, I didn’t. I wasn’t a fan of Skate 2’s soundtrack either though – I either played it muted and with my own music, or just listened to Money For Love’s “For Kristoffer” on repeat. So, meh.

Overall though, it’s not bad but it’s not great. It’ll be a future purchase, I’m sure, but there’s no chance in hell it’ll be a full-on £40 one. I’ll likely wait until I can get hold of it for £10-15, maybe £20 – then it’ll be more worthwhile. But for now, I’ll get my skating-game kicks from Skate 2, while shedding the occasional tear at how badly Tony Hawk’s games died. Tony Hawk’s RIDE… you son of a bitch.