Skate is the first skateboarding game released for next-gen consoles that is not part of the Tony Hawk franchise. EA's developers saw the success of Tony Hawk and felt they could do a better job, or at least appeal to a different segment of the market. Skate takes a simulation approach to skateboarding featuring a brand new kind of control scheme that EA markets as "revolutionary". Look at the Flick-It diagram to see the moves available.
Similar to other extreme sports games such as Tony Hawk, and Amped, Skate sees you hanging around various environments accomplishing challenges and tasks: hit a line, perform a certain combo, etc. Along the way you unlock new items and areas, though in a dramatic departure from Tony Hawk your skater doesn't have attributes that are upgraded. Instead it is your own skills with the controls that improves to allow you to handle bigger and harder challenges.
Similar to Tony Hawk, customization plays a big role in the game with all sorts of modifications available in changing the appearance of the rider and board. The softness/hardness of the wheels and stiffness of the board's trucks can also be changed to suit your riding style.
The controls are divided along logical lines which maps many skills to a few buttons. The left analog stick controls your body, meaning where you're facing while pushing along on the ground, and spinning when you're airborne. The right analog stick is responsible for your feet and is the crux of Skate's "revolutionary" controls. Unlike Tony Hawk where you simply press "up" to get your character to move forward, Skate has dedicated "push" buttons that must be pressed to propel your skater forward.
FlickIt is the marketing name that EA is plastering on top of its right analog control scheme. The name captures the motion that you perform to pull off an ollie, you first move the stick down and then flick it up. The longer you hold down/faster you flick up, the higher you ollie. Every flip and shove-it trick, and combination of both is a variation on this central mechanism seeing you flicking the right thumbstick in a variety of directions.
Each flick sequence makes logical sense. Flick diagonally to the right or left and pull off a kick/heel flip respectively. Swoop the stick and you'll pull off a pop shove-it. Now swoop a little bit and then move the stick diagonally and you'll perform a kick-flip pop shove-it.
Performing a manual is done by simply easing back or forward on the analog stick to lean in the proper direction. Grinds are triggered by landing on an appropriate edge or rail with no explicit button press required. The angle and orientation of your board when the grind lands, adjusted by the right thumbstick, determines what kind of grind you'll hit.
EA is incorporating a photo and video sharing portion to the game. At any time players can bring up a replay editor that lets you slow and stop time, along with changing camera angles. You can then take that cut movie and upload it to EA's server that stores it as a flash movie accessible and viewable on the web.
There are no known differences between the two next-gen versions of the game other than the inclusion of achievements and rumble in the 360 version. A demo is available for both the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions.