As a Tony Hawk loyalist, I was reluctant to get on board with EA's Skate back in 2007. The analogue stick controls appeared daunting, especially for a man that was still playing the likes of Pro Evolution Soccer with the D-pad long after everyone had gone stick twiddling mad.
Plus, although Skate looked big and bold, the San Vanelona setting looked washed out and way too serious for my liking. Where was the young man with his tongue frozen to a pole? Or the pit of molten metal to varial flip over?
There's another reason Iwasn't into it, too. PSM3 top brass, and actual skater, Dan Dawkins smuggled our only copy out of the office under the cover of darkness so nobody could play it for weeks. Not surprising as he'd been pouring over every bit of information since it was announced. Flash reports over morning coffee like 'Oh, the flips are just right' and 'grinds feel like they do in real life' made me think that this sterile world full of realistic tricks was for skaters and not for me. When Dan tried to explain the laser flip on an unplugged DualShock my baffled brain retreated to a Homer Simpson style image of a cow playing a ditty on a violin. 'I'm out' I thought.
When I finally got my hands on Skate my opinion switched stance and I was back in, which is pretty convenient for this feature. Very few games inspire me to try and do something in real life (although, there hasn't been a zombie apocalypse... yet) but Skate makes you feel so at home with the intricacies of skateboarding that I actually decided to try it out. Once. And I nearly fell off the board, but the sentiment remains.
The Skate series isn't just about simulation style 'boarding though; there's a ton of mad stuff you can do with the incredible gameplay physics. But the most surprising thing is how much a successful grind, flip or jump is so instantly satisfying, regardless of how far from the ground you are. As daft as it sounds, you 'feel' every move as if you were actually doing it. From the clank of your board's metal trucks locking and sliding down a rail, to quickly dismounting to the pavement with a flip flourish, Skate makes even the smallest moves feel epic.
With each new game comes aselection of even more complicated tricks to twist the blood in your thumb as you try to carve Zorro-style initials in split-second bursts. You'll hit plateaus for your skills, and yes, you'll get frustrated trying to complete combinations that require robot-like accuracy, but Skate is great for letting you have fun without forcing you to learn.
Even without the Easy and Hardcore modes that Skate 3 introduced, the masterstroke from EA Black Box is that the series is accessible for all. Whether you want an intricate and deep skateboarding experience or simply some moments of looking good while performing basic ollies (read: jumps), you'll find plenty of enjoyment here.