Starting off as a fringe offshoot of surfing, skateboarding has expanded into a global phenomenon, with over 12 million skateboarders worldwide. Skate casts you as one of these 12 million - an aspiring skater looking to make a name for themselves on the streets of the fictional city of San Vanelona.
Skating is all about your control over the board, something that Skate's producers have managed to replicate admirably well through the control system. The left and right sticks act as your feet and body control, letting you recreate the feeling of being on a board. Pulling down on the right stick gets you into a crouched position and flicking the stick quickly upward allows you to do a normal ollie.
Quickly flick the stick up and to the left however and you'll kick the board with your foot and perform a kickflip. You can also change your centre of gravity with the left stick, meaning you can perform spins and flips, and grind by landing on a rail, maintaining your balance with the right stick. It may sound complex, but it's actually incredibly intuitive and realistic, and responds in exactly the way you expect it to, whether you are a skateboarder in real life or not.
The aim of the game is for your self-created skater to rise through the ranks of the sidewalk surfers by gaining sponsorship from skate shops and clothing companies. This is achieved by getting your photo taken for magazines and producing videos showing off your board prowess. There are also several Spot Own areas throughout San Vanelona where you can try to "own" a particular spot by performing the most impressive tricks on it. The city is also full of other skaters who you can challenge to skate-offs and downhill races, or just free skate with as much as you want.
Keep on truckin'
The more challenges you complete, the more extra content you unlock, including secret characters, new challenges and a greater range of clothing for your skater, including famous brands like E's, Etnies, Adidas and Ice Cream. And you won't be short of stuff to do - San Vanelona is absolutely huge, a giant, living city full of people, shops, traffic and pedestrians, as well as plenty of rails, bowls, ledges and ramps for you to shred to your heart's content. Along the way your created skater will skate alongside some of the best pro skateboarders in the world, including Jerry Hsu, Mike Carroll, Rob Dyrdek and Mark Gonzales to a soundtrack featuring bands such as Agent Orange, N.W.A, The Ramones and Nirvana.
Also available is the ability to create your own short video clips at any time. These can be edited together to include multiple camera angles and effects and can be uploaded to EA's Skate.reel website for others to marvel at your four-wheeled mastery.
The game is full of neat touches - music gets louder and more prominent the closer you are to a particularly good spot, nasty bails are rewarded with a shot of the Thrasher Hall Of Meat injury report (complete with full-body x-ray and detail of all the bones broken), and by using the L1 button you are able to place a session marker that you can instantly warp back to if you mess up the line you were going for. They're small touches but they all contribute to the feeling that Skate is a quality package through and through, and one of the most involving and realistic skating games ever made.