After almost ten years of domination by the Tony Hawk franchise, skateboarding has a chance to be reinvented by EA's Skate. It does skating differently. It does skating brilliantly. It does skating better than Tony has for a while.
The control scheme practically is the game itself. Forget everything Tony told you and learn this: The analog stick is your foot. Flick up to kick up. Scoop it around the bottom to shove the board in a similar direction. All the moves for tricks must be mastered, but they're amazingly natural and based on the physical motions of the real-world trick. It’s like someone saw the promising tease of analog controls in Tony Hawk's Project 8 and said "Thanks, we'll take it from here." When you do something right, it simply feels awesome. Give yourself time to learn the new controls and you'll love them. They're much, much more rewarding than stabbing at buttons.
EA never forgets that the game's title is also a verb. If you want to take 20 minutes rolling through the suburbs of San Vanelona en route to the financial district, and swing by the bumpy streets of Old Town on your way, that's cool (and it all looks pretty, too). You'll find all manner of career goals, secret spots, and pro skater challenges en route. Hell, you can even find a spot you like, session it, and then figure out what you want to accomplish there - including nothing at all. That's the definition of freedom.
The in-game plugging for skate and shoe brands is all contextual but it still makes you want to take a shower aferrwards - pretty much everything you do in career mode is for the glory of ad dollars and free gear. Live the skater dream! Still, that's worth enduring for the incredibly fresh and successful take on skating controls, as well as a wide-open city with six-player online options (we liked the Deathraces and the Spot Battles). Skate is logical, authentic, and blissfully organic. Robots need not apply.