Review of Skate 3 — You wanna go skateboards?

When EA decided to start the Skate series and go head-to-head with Activision’s Tony Hawk franchise, that was a big deal.  The latter had long been the king of virtual skateboarding, but it was beginning to go downhill in the late 2000’s, and something else eventually had to drop into the halfpipe and issue a challenge.  Thanks to a more realistic resemblance of the sport and a unique “flick-it” control scheme, Skate was quickly lauded by critics and skaters around the globe, proving that you don’t need Tony Hawk on the cover in order for your skateboarding game to be popular.  With that being said, it’s been over nine years since the third installment in the series, so let’s hit the park and reminisce about the virtual skating masterpiece that is Skate 3.

Pretending I’m a superman

The story takes place in the fictional skate haven of Port Carverton.  After a stunt on live TV goes horribly wrong, your filmer convinces you to start your own board company.  From there, you recruit a team of rookie skaters and complete a wide variety of challenges, including things like trick competitions, races, following other skaters, filming/photoshoots, Hall of Meat, Domination, Own The Spot/Lot, 1-Up, and S-K-A-T-E.  Your ultimate goals are to impress the pros, earn as many fans as possible, and sell a million skateboards.  Best of all, your path to becoming Port Carverton’s top skater is entirely up to you.

The control scheme is business as usual if you’re familiar with the previous two games.  Your right stick is used for ollies, nollies, manuals, flip tricks, and tweaks.  The left stick is used for steering, spins, and reverts.  The left and right triggers are used for grabs, each corresponding to whichever hand you want to grab the board with, and also for frontflips and backflips.  The face buttons are used for pushing, getting off your board, briefly taking your feet off the board during a grab, and lying down on your back while your board is moving.  The right bumper is used for lip tricks and darkslides/dark catches.  When you get off your board, you can perform hilarious aerial stunts and bails, and also grab hold of different objects to use for your trick lines.  This game does everything in its power to be both easy to learn and challenging to master, just like a certain other skateboarding franchise.

‘Cause I’m TNT

If you’re tired of skating solo, you and up to five friends can team up to complete goals, go head-to-head, or just explore Port Carverton.  You can even share your photos and videos around the online service, as well as create your own skateparks for anyone to visit.  The sky’s the limit in terms of the amount of freedom you have in this virtual skateboarding experience.

Unless you’re playing this on the Xbox One X, the framerate won’t always be consistent and the graphics can have a case of pop-in somewhat often, but the team at Black Box did a fine job creating a massive skating playground with many places to roam around in.  I personally like the audio better than the visuals, as all of the pro skaters lent good voice-acting to their virtual counterparts.  You also get a decent soundtrack that features popular artists like Neil Diamond, Beastie Boys, Jeezy, Pixies, Dinosaur Jr., and Agent Orange.

I don’t think contrast is a sin

Like many other people on social media, I have long been begging EA to make a sequel to what I consider to be the best skateboarding game on the market.  But for the time being, Skate 3 will always be a very prominent title in my gaming repertoire.  Whether you’re a longtime skater or sports-game junkie, you’ll definitely want to tighten up your trucks and take this game for a spin.

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Sony Finally Buys Insomniac Games

While many may have thought Sony already had Insomniac games, PlayStation announced via Twitter today it has formally acquired the Spider-Man developer.

Despite having worked with Sony for over 20 years, starting with Spyro the Dragon in 1998, Insomniac was an independent developer for over 25 years. Many of their games have been developed exclusively for PlayStation. The studio had branched out with a few games recently though, most notably Sunset Overdrive which was exclusive to the Xbox One.

Check out the press release from Sony for more info and bit more about the history between the two companies.

Sunscreen at the ready — EA reveals Need for Speed: Heat

Despite its last game being filled with loot-box controversy, Need for Speed‘s engine is still revving loudly.  EA’s long-running, high-selling driving franchise returns this November in the form of Need for Speed: Heat.  The team at Ghost Games promised months prior that the series would once again return to its cops-and-racers roots, and the reveal trailer has proven that to be true.  Palm City is full of cops that get more and more aggressive as the sun goes down and the moon comes up.  You’ll be competing in the Speedhunters Showdown competition during the day, and partaking in illegal street races at night.  And in typical NFS fashion, every car in your garage will be customizable in numerous ways.  On November 8, Need for Speed: Heat busts out of the starting blocks.

Developer Quantic Dream goes Multi-platform

In an interview with Dualshockers, David Cage of Quantic Dream has indicated the publishers desire to move on from Playstation.

The studio recently released Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls with Detroit: Become Human coming soon on the Epic Games store. It’s the first time the games are available on a platform that isn’t PlayStation. The move seems to be indicative of Quantic Dream’s plans. Cage says they want to “work on different platforms” to reach a wider audience.

And while they’ve been looking to move on from PlayStation since “around two years before the release of Detriot” the split appears to have been amicable. Cage mentions “we always had a great relationship with Sony PlayStation”. After approaching Sony to talk about releasing their games elsewhere, PlayStation had no problem with the idea.

Cage finishes by saying Quantic Dream is “not exclusive to any platform anymore”. He doesn’t rule out the possibility of exclusivity deals but for now their games will release on “all platforms”.

The cage is lowering — 2K announces WWE 2K20

Some wrestling gamers like myself thought 2K was quietly future-endeavoring their WWE-licensed games, but it turns out we were wrong.  With two months before its scheduled release date, WWE 2K20 has appeared on the TitanTron, and 2K has informed us of some of the most notable additions to this year’s iteration.  One of the new features I’m really pumped up for is that we finally get to play as women in the MyCareer mode, which in turn brings back mixed-tag matches.  And speaking of women, this year’s 2K Showcase is based on the careers of the Four Horsewomen (Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks, and Bayley).  This won’t be the only story in the Showcase mode, as 2K is working on a package of DLC entitled 2K Originals, which is full of unique worlds and themes.  Towers mode also returns, bringing with it a tower based on the career of Roman Reigns.  One last thing to note is that longtime developer Yuke’s has parted ways with the WWE license, leaving Visual Concepts as the sole developer.  The studio behind NBA 2K promises streamlined controls that will appeal to beginners and veterans alike.  With all that being said, is 2K20 going to emerge from the mid-card, or will it be placed in a squash match? The bell rings on Oct. 22.

Review of Madden NFL ’20 — Leather or laces?

For the kids, August means it’s time to go back to school.  But for fans of sports games, August means it’s time for another game of virtual pigskin.  The 30th iteration of EA Sports’ iconic Madden NFL franchise has stepped onto the gridiron, bringing with it some obligatory tweaks and things that might remind you of features from older titles.  So without further ado, let’s take the field and discuss where Madden ’20 completes its passes and where it loses a few yards.

Commander in Kansas City Chiefs

This year, the folks at EA heavily hyped up how much more important each of the teams’ star players are in terms of their stats and statistics, meaning that the difference between them and lesser-known players is bigger than ever.  That might sound like a weird thing to advertise regarding sports games, but it’s not something to sneeze at.  On the field, the controls for things like catching and blocking are tighter than they were last year.  As for game modes, one has been added/brought back and one has been sacked.  The “Longshot” mode has been replaced by “Face of the Franchise: QB1.” After the College Football Playoff, you enter the NFL Draft and it’s on from there.  This mode is basically supposed to bring back memories of the “Superstar” mode that has been absent since Madden 25.  Also, this mode includes ten officially-licensed NCAA teams, which might be foreshadowing a future return of the NCAA Football series (I ain’t gonna bank on that, though).  Unfortunately, existing modes like Franchise and Ultimate Team haven’t had any highly-noticeable upgrades, but at least they’re not broken or unrefined.

The Colts of personality

Not much has changed within the graphics engine, but the animations and physics look a lot smoother than they did last year.  What stood out to more than the graphics was the much-improved chatter from all the players on the field.  Another change with the audio is that the soundtrack only contains songs specifically composed for the game by a variety of well-known artists.  It’s mainly full of rap, which isn’t my favorite genre, but you’ll be satisfied if that’s your cup of tea.

Don’t get mad, get Madden

It may hit the uprights here and there, but Madden ’20 is still a fun game of football that manages to complete the passes that matter.  Whether you’re an adamant sports gamer or a member of a family of football diehards, this year’s installment is another well-produced dose of gridiron goodness for both newbies and veterans of what is probably the most influential franchise in all of sports games.

Review of Kill la Kill the Game IF — Running with scissors

If there was ever an anime that had a short run and deserved a comeback of some kind, it was Kill la Kill. Fans like myself have long been lauding the series for things like its enthralling storyline and energetic music, not to mention wishing it would one day make some sort of videogame appearance. And thanks to the talented folks at Arc System Works, that wish has finally become a reality in the form of Kill la Kill the Game: IF.

The scissors need sharpening

Storyline-wise, it’s no different from the anime upon which it’s based. 17-year-old Ryuko Matoi has arrived at Honnouji Academy in search of answers regarding her father’s murder. In order to learn the truth, she has to fight her way through an egotistical student council led by the fearsome Satsuki Kiryuin. Sadly, the story mode makes you watch cutscenes of the Elite Four battles and just thrusts you into a tutorial fight that takes place after the best of the best are defeated. I know that’s nitpicky on my end, but I still feel the story mode starts in a weird way.

Another slight beef I have with this game involves the graphics and sound. While the visuals, music, and voice-acting do not disappoint whatsoever, the English dub’s lip-syncing is pretty poor. The English voice cast reprises their roles quite well, so it’s a shame that the speaking animations don’t really play ball with the script. Not a dealbreaker by any means, but it needs polish.

Don’t lose your way

Although it may seem like this game is a huge disappoint to me, I assure you that’s not the case. What really matters in a fighting game is the combat itself, and that’s where Kill la Kill sharpens the scissors. The control scheme is easy to get the hang of and never ceases to feel tight. You’ll also be treated with few-second cutscenes whenever you pull off one of your special moves. There’s even a QTE mechanic that may remind you of the clash system from the Injustice series.

When you need a break from classes at Honnouji, there’s a two-player mode both locally and online. The roster is a bit thin (Only eight characters plus two DLC fighters), but you do get a nice selection of prominent locations from the show. And no matter where you do battle, you can rack up credits to purchase things from the gallery, such as figures, music, and voice clips.

Before my body is dry

It’s not quite as polished as Arc’s other fighting games, but Kill la Kill the Game: IF is still a very good comeback from the short-but-lauded anime it’s based on. With things like accessible controls and a beautiful 2D-to-3D translation of the show’s animation, this game is a must-have for arena-fighting fans and anime diehards alike. The term “running with scissors” takes on a new meaning.