Review – Skate City (Xbox One)

Take a deep breath. This is it. This is your shot at greatness. This is the chance for your brand new Xbox One to shine. The time for you to show your peers what you’re made of. The time for you to pick up your game controller and make something happen. So, it’s time to turn it on. The intro paragraphs are also available on the website

Ice skating is a great way to relieve stress. While on a date, you might find yourself at a local ice-skating rink. Here, you’ll find couples, friends, and families all having a great time. While you’re watching everyone else skate, you might find yourself daydreaming about what it would be like to slide across the ice yourself. But don’t let your dreams stay dreams! Visit our local ice-skating rink, Skate City.

If Skate City had been released on consoles just a year ago, I’m sure this game would have been considered the savior of the skateboarding genre. In the meantime, no news on the return of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series. If we didn’t already know Skater XL, the mediocre but occasionally interesting spiritual successor to the skate franchise. Damn, you wouldn’t know Skate was coming back! So, in an era where we’re not as hungry for skateboarding games as we once were, can this game hold its own given the constant supply of games and the positive outlook for the future?

This game needs more comments.

Skate City reminds me a lot of the OlliOlli series, in that it’s a 2D game with side-scrolling. It’s a runner without end, because you’re constantly moving to the right (as long as you occasionally press the accelerator to increase speed), and the level returns to the beginning after a while. Each level can be completed in different ways, mainly by going through the quests in the menu or by unlocking some Tony Hawk-like missions. No matter how you play the game, your goal is the same: Earn points that you can use to buy new equipment or unlock new levels to explore.

So far, so good. That doesn’t sound so bad, does it? When it comes to ideas, Skate City is up to the task. You can see the potential in him. Unfortunately, this game suffers from some really annoying problems. The first is the complete lack of suggested content at the time of writing this review. I don’t know if the developers plan to add more levels in the future, but for now you only have three cities at your disposal: Los Angeles, Oslo and Barcelona. All three are too similar, which detracts from the overall minimalist presentation of the game, and their tasks are reduced to slightly more complex versions of the same tasks in the previous city.

Every level is so foggy that you feel like you’re skateboarding in Silent Hill.

Accomplishing these tasks wouldn’t be bad, were it not for the game’s biggest shortcoming: the controls. The developers were essentially trying to recreate the more realistic street skateboarding of Skate in an OlliOlli perspective. Accelerate with the A Button and perform tricks with the two analog sticks. It sounds simple, but it’s not very responsive. You also have to constantly watch out for small obstacles and ledges, as your character will fall like a rag doll into carbonite if he hits anything that isn’t a crushable surface or ground, due to the game’s poor physics.

They don’t move very fast and you have to constantly press the A button to speed up and perform tricks. The problem is that you can’t jump by briefly pressing the A button. This leads to one of the most common situations I’ve encountered while playing Skate City: a collision with a harmless trash can, which is apparently made of tungsten. Since this is a street game, you can’t perform complex combos. This is mainly due to the lack of places to perform tricks, with rails and ramps sometimes not being seen for long periods of time. When you play Skate City, you don’t feel very cool. The tricks are simple, the presentation is simplistic and the soundtrack is not catchy enough to enhance the overall atmosphere.

A press to jump would have been much better than what came out here.

Skate City isn’t terrible, but I can’t help feeling that I could have spent my time playing much better skateboarding games, both indie and AAA. It has some good ideas, but the implementation seems underdeveloped due to an overly confusing control scheme and a miserable amount of content. If you can’t wait for the new OlliOlli or find Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater too mainstream, Skate City can be a lot of fun in a very small series. Keep your expectations in mind before you start playing.

What I like about this game is the minimalist approach and the excellent frame rate, but the environments (all three) are ridiculously repetitive and unheralded. Skate City’s stick-based gimmick system, combined with autoplay and poor physics, results in a game loop that is far more cumbersome than it should be. Not to mention recurring goals at every level.
The soundtrack consists of some very good, but short and repetitive hip-hop samples, and sound effects of skaters passing by. Skate City desperately needs more energetic music to pick up the pace. The recipe for a fun arcade skateboarding game is there, but Skate City suffers from clunky controls and a simple lack of overall content. It is only edible in very small portions.
Final decision: 6.0

Skate City is already available on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Switch.

The test will be done on the Xbox One.

A copy of Skate City was provided by the publisher.


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