BY DUSTIN BREWER
Taking the mechanics of EA’s “Skate” series to new highs, “Skater XL” is either your dream skateboarding game come true or is about to drive you crazier than actually skating.
Title: “Skater XL”
Developer: Easy Day Studios Pty Ltd
Console Played for Review: PS4
Let’s get this out of the way first and foremost: You’re either going to love “Skater XL” and find yourself challenged and feeling rewarded as you master the innovative controls or you’re going to find your gaming area converted into a graveyard for controllers smashed in frustration.
And that’s kind of exactly what it was made for.
Developer Easy Day Studios isn’t interested in making a clone of “Tony Hawk” where the action is more arcade than technical, nor are they aiming to replicate EA’s “Skate” series where there’s a progressive storyline. Instead, they’ve completely redefined what a skateboarding game can be.
No matter if you’re playing on console or PC, you need a controller to play the game. That’s because the game has been designed where the left & right sticks on your controller each control the corresponding foot on your skateboard. There’s no tricks pre-programmed in either, you’re dropped into the level and whatever you do is up to you and your learning curve. In some ways this is an awesome approach. As you figure out more tricks and are finally able to land them, you begin to feel actual hints of pride and accomplishment, which sounds insane to say but it’s true.
In other instances, specifically with manuals, the range to do the trick on the sticks is just so small that it can be maddening trying to figure it out or perfect. The room for error is simply too slight in some instances.
The other issue with the game that needs to be addressed are its’ graphics. For the most part, the skating looks great and the mechanics are very smooth. You may occasionally glitch up but more often than not you’re able to put together smooth flowing lines with minimal hiccups. However, when you fall, it becomes an entirely different story. Your character is likely to look less like a skater and more like something straight out of QWOP or you fall directly into the environment.
While that on its’ own is pretty innocuous, it does add to the incomplete feel of the game. Specifically on console compared to PC, there’s fewer maps to choose from, no mods, and a limited selection of user-made maps. In that sense, the game feels more like a really well developed beta and less like a complete game worth $39.99.
For many those aspects combined with how difficult the controls can be to get down, it’s understandable why the game has been so polarizing to players. I think I fall somewhere in the middle of everything: I enjoy the challenge and find myself really taking to the controls but am disappointed that the options are so limited. I figure that Easy Day Studios will continue to add new updates and features as the months roll on but for now, I’m excited to enjoy a more realistic skateboarding simulation video game. “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1&2” is going to drop in a few weeks and I’m sure I’ll spend hours on that too, enjoying the full rush of nostalgia that it will bring.
I just know that I won’t have the same sense of accomplishment any time I land anything.
Do you like “Skater XL” or are you waiting for the remastered “Tony Hawk” games? Let us know here in the comments and stay tuned for all the latest video game news and updates here and on Twitter.