Skateboarding may not be part of the pop culture zeitgeist like it was during those heady Tony Hawk days, but it’s still a popular pastime that comes with its own culture attached. It’s surprising, then, that outside of the excellent OlliOlli, the extreme sport has been underrepresented on the PlayStation 4. Skater XL is indie team Easy Day Studios’ attempt at plugging the gap – at least until Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 and Skate 4 arrive.
This title is defined by its control scheme, which sees you independently controlling each foot using the DualShock 4’s two analogue sticks. Pulling down on your back foot, for example, will enable you to ollie; you can then flip your front foot out to the side in order to kickflip. It’s not the most intuitive control scheme – and once you factor in grabs and spins with the triggers, it becomes even more complicated – but the developer’s trying to replicate the “feel” of being on a real board.
While it is challenging to get to grips with, it affords you a lot of control. Gameplay revolves around a handful of maps based on real world-inspired locations, like a high school and parking lot. It’s here you’ll find “lines”, and you can create custom starting points that you can warp to as you attempt to master them. This is a sandbox-style experience: the fun comes from, well, making your own fun. First you need to envision what you want to do, then you simply practice until you nail it.
There are some challenges for you to complete if you don’t have the “eye” to create your own lines, but you’ll get most of your entertainment from simply skating around and trying things out. This, of course, is what real world skateboarding is like – it’s about repetition, practice, and capturing your best runs on camera. Fortunately, there is a built-in video editor suite here, so if you do happen to nail that 360-degree shuvit into a nose grind, then you can save it for the world to see.
While the video editor is fiddly, it affords you some neat options, like different camera angles and panning tools. Unfortunately, the game’s not exactly a looker; the physics of the skateboard are good, but your character will look stiff and awkward each time they fall, and the scenery is basic at best. While the focus is on the skateboarding itself, it’s hard to make “pretty” videos when every other aspect of the game looks so drab.
This criticism applies to the character creator, which is packed with licensed clothing and shoes, but the models look far too simplistic to represent real people. The game doesn’t really feel finished; its popularity on PC can partially be attributed to the fact that mods have fleshed the package out, but stripped of many of those features this PS4 version is basic at best. Yes, there’s room for this release to grow, but it’s hard to recommend unless you’re a skating enthusiast.
Once you overcome Skater XL’s learning curve there’s some fun board-based entertainment to be had here. But this is a lightweight package with subpar presentation, and unless you’re so deep into skater culture that you absolutely need a simulation for your PS4, we’d recommend either waiting for this to be updated – or pre-ordering Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 instead.
It’s a game that has loads of potential but just shouldn’t be on consoles, the market doesn’t suit it. Compare that to PC, where the modding community is great and the video creation software is better. If you understand skating at a base level then you’ll get some enjoyment out of this as the goals are similar but it’s not a ‘game’ per se, it’s a simulation and that’s ok.
Better off waiting for Tony Hawk 1 and 2.
@shonenjump86 I dunno, that’s an arcade game at heart. I’m hyped for it, but I would say there’s a place for simulations given that Tony Hawk and Skate lean far more towards dumb fun than trying to recreate real tricks and lines.
Yeah, I’ve been playing the game recently, and I think it’s okay. I do like some of the levels, and the soundtrack. But the levels themselves feel really empty, and lifeless. Another problem I have with the game are the bail animations. They look really stiff and terrible. I think the game is okay overall, but the empty levels, bail animations, and the lack of content is pretty disappointing. So far, I would give it a 6/10. It’s not worth the $40 for now. But hopefully there will be future updates to improve the game.
@nessisonett Modding is so weird you buy a game and someone other needs too fix it...
The same goes for early acces paying for a unfinished game how stupid.
@SpicyBurrito16 Thats not great too hear the game is ok... 😔
@Flaming_Kaiser Nah, modding is way more than just fixes. Skyrim is a much better game because of the wacky stuff the community put in that a big company would never be able to.
Are there NPC skaters like in Skate? Having to avoid others while working out lines was always a fun part of that game.
@lacerz No, empty levels.
@nessisonett I may check it out on a sale maybe. But I’ve just been more into the upcoming Tony Hawk games. Hopefully Activision doesn’t screw it up like 5.
Are there any goals or challenges?? Or is it literally "free skate" and perfecting tricks and playing with the camera?
@NYJetsfan123 There are challenges for you to complete divided by difficulty, but I'd consider this more "training" to help you to better appreciate the sandbox stuff.
Its ok but ok at best. Controls having to use the analog sticks for movement coupled with the triggers to turn very unusual to be honest. The levels are empty seem basic and also trying to do certain tricks you do exactly as the game states and it really does not comply, the best thing I liked about it was the whole you press triangle and you can start at any point in the map or transport to other than that its a let down and could have had potential
@SpicyBurrito16 I agree 40 bucks is too much.
Is it so bad to replicate a simplistic control schematic such as the one in Tony Hawk's franchise? Game developers need to understand that gaming pleasure nowadays mostly derives from thought-provoking and profound storytelling, not the application of a quasi-realistic control pattern. For shame.
@DrCaligari Yeah, personally I expected a deep story about one man and his board, navigating drug problems and the seedy underbelly of the skating world. A real rags-to-riches story all to the backdrop of ska-punk.
@nessisonett You changed my mind then on the mods that was a solid argument. The early access still nonsense in my mind. It think its a joke they let you pay too play test their games. And too be fair how they release some games makes it look with some games makes it look like they let you play test long after the release. The digital age of releasing and see if we fix later rubs the wrong way.
After playing skate for a good part it felt weird going back to tony hawks felt to arcady
@nessisonett Which is why T.H.U.G. is my favourite. It was the first of the series which actually gave a breath of fresh air into your game, there was an actual (even if slight) character development. I definitely wouldn't mind seeing something punky / gritty in the future, but I wouldn't hold my breath. Of course, all these are just my opinions. I hope they remake T.H.U.G. in the future, though.
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