And so, the terrifying battle between man and badly-grazed elbows continues. Skate 3 is supposed to be about sheer acts of awesomeness and bitchin'osity; but when we're playing, it's more like an absurdly violent episode of You've Been Framed.
Raggedy Californian skater dudes and face-plants are an irresistible combination - especially when your character manages to get himself covered in real-time injuries. You can even make videos of said 'accidents' and post them on Xbox Live for everyone else to laugh at.
The most notable improvements over Skate 2 are related to creating stuff, sharing it, and playing together over Live. You build an entourage, compete in team-based activities and hope to melt the bitter hearts of Port Carverton's skater girls.
Events that worked well before are much more enjoyable when your friends get involved. We love the Clang-Bangers, where every player has to trick over a single spot. It's a medley of head-on collisions and mangled bodies, punctuated by the very occasional 360 underflip by someone who found a narrow window of opportunity to jump.
As many great skaters will tell you, rules are for losers, and there's nothing here to stop you skitching a ride on a car to speed ahead of your opponents. You can also shove other players off their boards by pressing LB, which is an especially handy tactic to use in front of oncoming traffic. Juvenile, yes, but undoubtedly enjoyable.
Baggies and big business go hand-in-hand, so it makes sense that your progress is measured in board-sales and media exposure. In an especially cool touch, photos you've taken start to appear around town on gigantic billboards.
You can take a more direct hand in shaping Port Carverton, dropping ramps and obstacles anywhere into the game world, positioning them using an editing tool, or by dragging them around using your skater. This is at its best when there are other Xbox Live players in your game, turning world-creation into a collaborative effort.
Unfortunately the the single-player experience is largely unchanged and the world itself looks dated. Port Carverton is a new layout, but it lacks the visual fidelity of the earthquake-stricken San Vanelona from Skate 2 - it's nowhere near as ropey-looking as Tony Hawk: RIDE, but it's hardly next-gen either. Ultimately, it's all about the online: if you have an active social life on Xbox Live then Skate 3 is near-essential, but otherwise you might as well stick to last year's version.
Fun, but not a complete revolution
- Incredibly easy and satisfying controls
- Great user created content sharing
- Brilliant slapstick humour
- Overly similar to Skate 2
- New city doesn't look as good