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More ‘Skate.’ than Tony Hawk can handle

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By Tyler Pitruzzello

By Tyler Pitruzzello

Every now and again you play a video game that simultaneously blows your mind and redefines the way you look at games. “Guitar Hero” redefined the dying rhythm music genre of our day, and now “Skate” has started a revolution in the action sports genre.

I have been playing video games since the time of Atari and I can still remember the first time picking up my Nintendo controller and throwing “Skate or Die” into the front and pushing power. My brother and I would waste away hours on what we thought to be the best skating game ever.

Well times have changed and amazingly enough the same company, E.A., that brought us “Skate or Die” has brought us a new skating game. “Skate” is sure to keep us glued to our couches for days on end.

Since the launch of Nintendo’s Wii, the gaming industry has seen a revolution in the way game developers approach their projects. “Skate’s” true innovation comes in its control scheme. While you find yourself still controlling your “skater” with your left analog stick, your right analog stick is used for you to move your weight around your board.

You find yourself pulling back with your right thumb and snapping it forward to ollie, or snapping or swiveling it to the left or the right to do various flip trick. They really draw you into the game when you’re doing free form tricks just flowing into them. In career mode, there are some objectives where you have to duplicate a trick that is preformed by another skater. The controls do get a little frustrating here because it’s hard to be precise with your analog sticks.

Career mode does leave you wanting for more – both in story and objectives. You’ll execute objectives for two main magazines, Thrasher and Skate Magazine. Both magazines have their own set of objectives but you’ll soon find that you’re doing the same objectives over and over again. The only thing that really changes is the environment in which you are completing your objectives. I found myself saying ‘Agh, another photo shoot. Great now I have to kickflip and grind down this rail… wait didn’t I just do this?’

The camera angle that’s placed real low makes you feel like the emphasis is on your skateboard instead of what company made your T-shirt. It is really inventive and a good angle most of the time, but since you can’t change the camera angle at all, it makes lining up a grind a little difficult.

The environments are lush and huge. They are big enough that you could play for ten hours straight and still be finding secret alleys and corporate art to skate in and on.

“Skate” brings a new mantra to the table with their saying “without footage, it’s fiction.” They have a replay editor that’s finally worth having. If you’re playing and you say “Holy crap did you see that,” and realize there is no one in the room it’s OK. You can stop and go to your replay editor and not only save your massive combo or insane drop in but you can also switch camera angles put parts in slow motion and even upload your clip onto the E.A. Web site.

“Skate.”does very well at making you feel like you’re actually on the board. It takes a step away from “Tony Hawk’s pro skater” button mashing style and gives you a breath of fresh air. The game makes you want to find new secret spots to line up tricks. Whether you’re dropping into a small back yard pool or bombing down a drainage pipe, you’ll find a smile on your face.

All in all, “Skate.” is an amazing first attempt in what is sure to be a long running franchise. There are a few things that need a little ironing out but the fresh ideas and innovations are what put this on the must own list for me.

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