Hands-on: Skate 3 and its new difficulty levels

We've covered Skate 3's new focus on co-operative challenges, managing a team of skaters and selling some skateboards -- but the raw experience of getting on the virtual board and busting tricks, not much has changed significantly. And that's why the new difficulty levels were such an interesting addition for me.
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The game now has easy, medium and hardcore settings, adjusting your skater's god-given talents and the effect gravity has on gameplay, on the fly. In easy mode, it's not hard to pop crazy-high ollies and pretty much land on any ledge. It forgives you quite a bit, but doesn't do a tremendous job of bringing new players into the experience. Sure, it's easier to do tricks, but the controls are still the same and there's no mechanic there to knock down that seemingly insurmountable entry barrier for most non Skate-ers. If you didn't get the controls before, these new difficulty levels won't help you get into it now.

As for medium, it's more along the Skate I've been playing since the series' inception. It felt like the same old friend I had spent many hours with before, as I nollied over gaps and the ledges of the parks of Port Carverton with relative ease.

For veteran players like myself, though, hardcore mode is a very nice addition to the experience. Timing and veracity of stick movement is paramount to grinding that ledge and clearing that gap effectively, so the experience is as advertised: the hardcore players are the only ones who will be able to excel here.

The three difficulty levels really do have a noticeable impact on the gameplay, but don't make it much more accessible to new players. The addition of new meters and readouts for tricks should do that, but as an experienced Skate fan, I could be overestimating their effectiveness.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.