We'd heard how EA was hoping to evolve its successful skateboarding franchise by introducing team play in Skate 3, which is due in May. Last week, we finally got to try it for ourselves. While it was admittedly only a small part of what looked to be a fairly meaty experience, the co-op play was surprisingly fun.
After an introduction by members of the Black Box development team, we got to team up with a couple other journos and hit the abundant pavement of Port Carverton. We played as the host for a three-player game, and, as such, had the ability to access a sub-menu that showed the various locations within the game world and the team challenge types available at each. We could then either move the team there, or put it up for a vote.
The first two we tackled were interesting in that the results could be shared via the game's website for the world to see -- not just scores, mind you, but photos and videos as well. For the video challenge, all three us us had to grind railings, ollie over some steps while performing a trick, then grind around a planter located on the college campus where the event was taking place. There was a time limit, and once we'd all managed to perform the feats, our scores were tallied, the video saved and our careers furthered based on how we did as a team.
The next challenge was more simplistic -- jumping over or grinding a skate park rail -- but had a neat completion bonus. Not only did we earn career points, but each player was able to pick their favorite photo of the trick they'd perform, which was then automatically placed on in-game billboards. Black Box says that the more boards your team sells, the more you'll see your name, logo and photos in the game world -- until the town is covered in the branding you've designed.
The core game of Skate 3 is already looking better than Skate 2, with better animations and a smoother overall look. We also thought it was a nice gameplay touch that you could "own" a challenge by completing it, but also "kill" the challenge by throwing in some flair. Landing into a manual grind version as opposed to a standard one, for instance, will net you more board sales.
All in all, the team mechanics seem very well integrated at this point, and they'll certainly interest those who are bored of boarding solo.