One fresh addition is the advent of team challenges. With a friend or two, you can build a squad and head online to compete in some of the same trick jams that are available in the single-player mode. It's a blast to showboat as spectacularly as possible (thereby racking up trick points for your team) in these frantic timed challenges, and the loose team format doesn't try to force too much of a co-op feel onto an essentially individual sport.
"Own The Lot" mini-quests are also new to Skate 3. Each one consists of eight or nine trick-based missions to complete in a single part of the city. To gain the reward, you must finish them all.
The OTL modes instill a sorely needed sense of place. Because I typically started new challenges by warping from point to point, the world started to feel like a disconnected patchwork of individual venues. In the course of an OTL, you familiariSe yourself more deeply with a region and gain an appreciation for the terrain.
And there's a great deal to enjoy in Port Carverton, a brighter, more celebratory place than Skate 2's New San Vanelona. If a cityscape this packed with ramps, ledges, and railings existed in real life, it would be the land that spawned a million amateur YouTube videos. Indeed, you can produce your own highlight reel with a replay editor that's rudimentary but does what it needs to.
The do-it-yourself features also include a skate-park creation mode where you can build your own concrete playground from a vast object library. This strikes me a tedious endeavor, especially given that there is already so much to explore in the pre-made world, but surely some aspiring halfpipe designer will construct the masterpiece he's been sketching in his notebook margins since grade school. Naturally, you can also upload whatever you make, user-generated content being all the rage.
There are some persistent annoyances. The camera has a nasty habit of drifting when you restart a challenge, which you will do often, given the trial-and-error nature of the game. And challenge objectives are often maddeningly vague. It only took me a few minutes to realiSe that "Do a Manny Flip Manny" meant that I had to go from a two-wheeled manual stance to a flip trick and back again. It took me a great deal longer to figure out that I had to do so without letting all four wheels touch the ground. (The casualties: one hour of my life and one PS3 controller that met a premature end against my living-room wall.)
And in keeping with the corporate vibe, the product placement in Skate 3 is relentless to the point of saturation. The adulation for boarding-related companies like Stereo, Adidas, Etnies, Nike SB - and many, many others - is bad enough. At least they fit the context, though. More cringe-worthy are non-sequiturs like the Miracle Whip "Whipfest" Competition, which features a billboard: "MAYO IS FOR INLINE SKATERS." Wow! They really nailed those dorky inline skaters, I guess! I gather that this alternative sandwich topping must be quite badass!
Yet Skate 3's tin-eared cheerleading for corporate greed in the midst of a global economic crisis doesn't ruin the experience, which is a testament to the elegance of the underlying design. The true narrative of this game is the journey of slow, dogged, satisfying improvement that you'll travel as you work the ineffable rhythms of the board into your fingers. You may unlock an achievement at 1,000,000 boards sold, but the sense of accomplishment sets in long before that.
8 / 10