RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.

Posted on Dec 24th 2007 at 05:23:51 AM by (Tondog)
Posted under Modern Gaming, EA, Skate, Sony, Game Republic, Folklore, Underrated and Overlooked Games Of The Year

2007 was the year of hype in gaming. Between Halo 3, Mass Effect, Super Mario Galaxy, Crysis, and Assassin's Creed, this year has seen the release of some of the most talked up games of all-time. While some of them fell far short of the hype, there were plenty of other far superior games that came out, but received little to no attention from mainstream gamers. So, continuing now and on every Wednesday (or Thursday) (or sometime) until the end of the year, I will be giving you a look at two games released this year that deserve your hard-earned cash and attention. At the end of this five-part series (ending the day after Christmas), I will list them in order of the most overlooked/underrated.

This inclusion might be a little controversial since it is a fairly well known game and will be getting a sequel, but nonetheless, I think it's been overlooked by many gamers. This game would be Skate by EA Black Box and published by EA. The game has only sold less than half a million copies across both the PS3 and the Xbox 360, most likely because the 360 version came out a week before Halo 3 and the PS3 version came out on the same day as Halo 3. Damn you Halo 3 for sabotaging the sales of a great game! Halo bashing aside, Skate may look like a typical skateboarding game like the Tony Hawk series on the surface, but the game takes a completely opposite approach to the sport than the Tony Hawk games. With Skate, EA strived to make the most realistic skateboarding game ever, a goal that was met. In Skate, you can not land a 540 going off a little kicker like you can in Tony Hawk, nor can you easily land a 900 going off a half pipe. It's much more realistic compared to the crazy combos and tricks seen in the Tony Hawk games.

The best part about the game is its extremely innovative control scheme. You can kick with your right foot by pressing the A/X button, kick with your left foot by pressing X/Square (this is a first in any game, at least to my knowledge), and move around with the left analog stick. However, where Skate truly shines is in its trick controls, dubbed by EA as Flickit. With Flickit controls, all of the ollie-based (for you non skaters, an ollie is jumping into the air with your board) tricks to get you into the air are controlled by flicking the right analog sticks in various directions. For example, to do a regular ollie, pull down on the stick then flick it up. A kickflip is done by moving the right stick down then flicking it to the upper left corner. Some of them get very complicated, such as a 360 inward heelflip, which you do by moving the stick slightly below the right position, moving to the downward position, then flicking to the upper right corner. This control scheme is preferable to the typical Tony Hawk press X then press Square and a direction to do the flip because it takes a whole lot more time to master and learn and replicates how the tricks are done in real life. You can apply the same Flickit concept to tweak and setup grabs and setup grinds and transition from one grind into another without leaving the rail. This is the real beauty of Skate, its enormous attention to detail and respect for the art of skateboarding. However, like other skateboarding sims (see Thrasher Skate and Destroy on Playstation), the vert aspect of the game is flawed. The vert skating just feels very clunky at times, however you are able to get used to it with time. I just hope EA improves vert skating in Skate 2. Moving on, the music in the game is actually a pretty damn good cross section of music from artists ranging from Slayer to Sex Pistols to Nirvana to Eric B and Rakim to David Bowie to Rick Ross (EVERYDAY I'M HUSTLIN!). Still doesn't beat the classic rap soundtrack from Thrasher Skate and Destroy, but it's close. 

One thing you should be aware of is that the PS3 version of the game is nowhere near as good as the Xbox 360 version. The 360 version runs much more smoothly than the PS3 version, which stutters very often. So, do yourself a favor and buy Skate because it is by far the most realistic skateboarding game ever made.

Next up on the list is Folklore (known as Folksoul in Japan), developed by Game Republic and published by Sony. Folklore is the second Japanese RPG to see release on the Playstation 3 here in the United States, and it's one of the finest RPGs I have ever played. What I like the most about the game is that it foregoes the typical turn-based menu simulation of Final Fantasy and other games of its ilk for more action-based combat. That and the story isn't about some brooding emo kid who gets pissed off and threatens to destroy the world and you're some androgynous emo kid who has to stop him. Instead the game is a mystery story revolving around two people, one named Keats, the other named Ellen (both of which are playable). Keats writes for an occult magazine named Unknown Realms, and Ellen is looking for her mother. They end up in the middle of figuring out a murder mystery and who, or what, did it. In order to solve this mystery, they must travel to the Netherworld, a place where the dead roam. In the Netherworld, they must destroy monsters and capture their souls. I won't say too much else because the story is easily one of the best I've seen in an RPG, especially a Japanese one.

The game plays like a third person action game crossed with an RPG. The combat system is really unique. At any time, you may equip up to four folks, which are souls that you have captured and can use to attack enemies. You are then able to carry out each attack by simply pressing one of the face buttons on the controller. You are able to gain more Folks by defeating enemies and capturing their soul. One of the unique things about this game are the online features. You are able to create your own custom dungeons and share them with people online. In addition to that, there are also two add-on packs up on the Playstation Store as of this writing that add 3-4 hours of gameplay with 4 quests and a new Folk in each pack. Downloadable content is not something I'm a big fan of, but it's nice to get a little bit more out of the game for $4 (or $6 for both packs on the store right now). I hope this explanation made sense because I don't know that it did. Regardless, be sure to check out Folklore if you ever get a Playstation 3.

[Skate PS3 Cover Art from PSU.com/Xbox 360 Cover Art from Wikipedia]
[Folklore Cover Art from PSU.com]


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