Still, this is really only a minor mark on a superbly implemented and innovative control system. Meanwhile, Skate matches or surpasses Project 8 everywhere it counts. It may not have the Birdman or his regular crew, but it still fits in a huge selection of pro skaters, authentic gear and branded apparel, along with a more flexible character customisation system based on EA’s established Game-Face system, as found in the likes of Tiger Woods 08.
What’s more, online Skate is a beacon for how stunt-heavy games should do things in the HD era. We expect multiplayer modes, and Skate delivers, but then it goes further into the sort of territory you associate with Halo 3 or Project Gotham 4. In Skate all the single-player action is recorded and can be replayed. That footage can then be edited, stills can be captured, effects and slow-motion can be applied, and new camera angles selected. Then the results can be uploaded to EA’s online servers, ready to be shared with the world. There’s already a huge community doing just that, and I suspect that this – more than anything else – will give the game an enormous life-span, and a very loyal fan base.
So there you have it. Skate is a fantastic skateboarding game, and the fact that it’s only the first effort from EA whets your appetite for what it might do to with the inevitable sequel. Does this mean Tony Hawks is finished? Of course not. There was an awful lot to like about Project 8’s less serious, more fun-loving approach, and hopefully we’ll see something new and exciting from Proving Ground. Just as there’s room for both FIFA and Pro Evo in the football genre, so there’s room for two games and two approaches to video-game skateboarding. After all, they say a little competition helps everyone excel.
EA comes out of nowhere to deliver the best skateboarding game around. The Tony Hawks franchise had better have something special if it’s going to compete with this.