What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that while Skate 3 is rated "Teen" it's a lot tamer than many other similarly rated games, such as those that focus heavily on shooting people. This is a skateboarding sim with an arcade twist that folds in community features and cooperation. It puts players in the shoes of a young entrepreneur trying to start up a skateboarding company with the help of his or her friends. Note, though, that many of the stunts and tricks are very authentic, and could prompt players to try them in the real world. The long term repercussions of dangerous stunts are not accurately depicted, and players are rarely penalized for foolhardy behavior. In fact, one mode even rewards players for inflicting grave injuries on their avatars. Also be aware that there is a modest amount of foul language, and that the online mode offers open voice communication. Common Sense Media does not recommend open online play for children under 12 years of age.
What's it about?
It's only been a year since EA rolled out Skate 2, a game that proved Electronic Arts was serious about competing against Activision's Tony Hawk series. Despite the short development cycle, SKATE 3 has added even more thrills (and spills) to virtual skateboarding. The biggest change is a heavy emphasis on co-op play, including team-based challenges in the fictitious city of Port Carverton, which features both human and A.I.-controlled skaters. While the story is weak, the deep career mode has you starting your own skateboard brand. Friends begin to sign on to help after you've generated enough "street cred." This is accomplished by taking on solo and team challenges, such as amassing the highest score possible (by pulling off midair tricks), achieving the longest jump, racing against others, and so on. The better you and your crew skate, the more you progress through each player's career, and the more you can customize your board and character with unlocked in-game merchandise.
Is it any good?
The new team-focused challenges and online features are well done, but those who purchased Skate 2 might want to first play this game at a friend's house (or rent it for a day) to see if the new additions justify the $60 purchase.
Back again is the fun Hall of Meat minigame that compensates you for brutal wipeouts, but many players will likely prefer the aforementioned team contests that pit your crew against another in multiple rounds of skateboarding challenges. What's more, a new park creator is included and makes it easier than ever to create the ultimate skate park from scratch. Plus, Skate 3 introduces an online social network called "skate.feed" that shows your friends' highlights reel (yes, you can still save your best moves) and allows you to share board graphics.
Online interaction: This online-focused game offers fun social networking-like features. That said, it provides players with access to completely open voice communications. We heard plenty of trash-talk in our headsets during online testing. There is also the potential for the sharing of personal information and inappropriate ideas. Common Sense Media does not recommend online play for children under the age of 12.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about whether the makers of sports games really need to release "new" games for each sport every year. Should they take more time to add enough features to justify the purchase? Or is that too long to wait between sequels? Could periodic -- and less expensive -- downloadable content be a viable alternative?
Families can also discuss Skate 3's realism. Do the tricks look authentic? If so, do you think some players might conspire to try them in the real world? Does the game do a good enough job of cautioning players as to the dangers involved in some of the game's more extreme stunts?