I have never been a huge fan of Electronic Arts.
I shouldn’t have to explain my issues with EA. In fact, if you want a recent example of their hubris and general bullshit, look no further than last week’s revelation of Star Wars: Battlefront’s missing campaign!
And frankly, that is a pretty light offense as far as EA goes. I am sure you have your own complaint or five about bad launch day servers or microtransactions or season passes.
I hold those complaints as well, but here is my biggest one: Skate 3 came out in 2010, it is 2016 now, and there is still no Skate 4. What gives?
I am far from alone. Earlier this year, Eurogamer noted that Instagram commentators have been blowing up EA’s account with demand for a sequel. A strong argument could be made that Skate 4 is the most anticipated EA game, especially now that a new Mirror’s Edge is coming out.
As you may have put together from an earlier post, I am an avid skateboarder and have been for over a decade. I got into skateboarding through the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater games, and I am forever grateful to them for showing a rural Midwestern kid what was possible. Skateboarding, directly and indirectly, opened a lot of doors for me.
I didn’t really know skateboarding that well when Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater came out, and my only real touch point to actual professional skateboarding were the intro videos:
I soon learned that a lot of what you did in Tony Hawk just wasn’t realistic, and I found myself wanting something closer to the real thing. A little known Playstation game called Thrasher: Skate and Destroy was sorta realistic, but difficult to pick up and play. Skateboarding is hard, yes, but I wanted a healthy balance between the challenge of the real thing and the skate power fantasy of something like Tony Hawk.
In 2007, EA Black Box heard my cries and brought Skate into the world. The Skate games attempt to be an actual skateboard simulation. You use the right stick to ollie and do flip tricks, with commands that are meant to emulate how the tricks are done in real life.
The Skate games are about precision and timing more than racking up massive scores and combos. You have to learn the proper angles to get on top of rails and ledges. You have to get the right amount of speed and time your pop just right to pull a switch kickflip down that 16 stair. The game is still a little over the top, but nothing compared to being able to do an effortless 720 triple heelflip Japan air or hardflip backside tailsliding a goddamn mile on telephone wires.
For a skateboarder, the Skate games were an absolute dream. They would allow me to experiment with tricks I could think of in my head but not have the skill to do in real life. Or alternately, I would pull something off in Skate and ask “is that even possible?” and then go out and try it.
I am not the only one. Over the years, I have read interviews with pro skateboarders who said they would play Skate and then go out and try to do those tricks in real life. Here is a quote from professional skateboarder Joey Brezinski back in 2008:
A lot of my tricks really do come out of that game. A lot of tricks take like five days after I do it for 30 minutes on the couch. In a way that game is mental training for physical training.
All of the little touches are real to life as well. The default camera angle is meant to simulate a common skate video shot from where filmers on skateboards follow their subject. There are some spots that are plagued by security and skatestoppers (little metal clamps put on ledges and rails to make them unskateable) and you have to find ways to skate them. Many of the locations are amalgamations of actual famous skate spots from around the globe. Just like the Tony Hawk games, Skate featured a real cast of skateboarders. You can play as Mark Appleyard for God’s sake:
Even if you don’t skate, the Skate games are well worth your time. It is an absolute joy to skate around the maps, putting together your best tricks and lines. The graphics are great, and the animations for the skateboarding are absolutely lovely to behold.
Skate truly captures the appeal of skateboarding, and is a good bridge to people who might be interested in trying it themselves. Your only real limit in Skate is how creative you are. Skateboarding is, above everything else, about expression and creativity.
So here is my final appeal to Electronic Arts: I will probably never love you, but I may begrudgingly accept you if you make Skate 4 without pumping it to the gills with microtransactions.