Skate 2 review
Available for
Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Publisher
Electronic Arts
Skate 2

Reviewed by Jason Thompson

()

I

admit I wasn’t wowed last year when the original “Skate” debuted.  I had been one of those long-time Tony Hawk armchair skaters, and the realistic physics and learning curve of the game drove me away. Yet the big dilemma was that the last Tony Hawk game I thoroughly enjoyed in his never-ending franchise was “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3” (the second one in that series will always be the best, but that’s another story). Since then, there have been six more sequels and they all basically had the same stuff packed into them, so that whole series became a bore.

So when “Skate 2” was sent to me, I was skeptical. But I popped it in and soon discovered that the more realistic skating physics made for a far more enjoyable game. Having to learn how to skate well to finish challenges made them all the more satisfying. What’s more, the game’s story, while filled with kooky characters, wasn’t the same old bunch of “Jackass”-style hooligans trying to act as obnoxious as possible. Instead, each of the characters’ personalities was allowed to actually shine, rather than just become a grotesque caricature.

Anyway, “Skate 2” is here and is a lot of fun. Sure, there can be some near controller-throwing moments, but once you find yourself nailing a trick successfully, you feel happy and want to learn something else. This time out, the story features the gamer as a former skater who just finished a five-year jail sentence. The former “Skate” city, San Vanelona, has been redubbed as “New San Vanelona” featuring all sorts of anti-skating security goons working for one Mongo Co. Of course, the gamer’s challenge is to keep the skating ethic alive and well through various challenges.

Solo mode features both a career and freeskating option. Players can create their skater in career mode and then take it to the streets, where they’ll meet a bevy of characters all trying to achieve the same goal. Challenges range from simple tasks, like grinding rails and airing over obstacles, to more difficult situations, such as winning downhill races or beating a rival skater on his own turf. All the while, you have a buddy by your side, introducing you to new people and helping you create a portfolio of professional skating photos and videos to boost your career.

“Skate 2” offers new tricks as well. There are fingerflips, crail slides and footplants. Skitching is also introduced in this game, and of course allows players to grab hold of a moving vehicle’s bumper and glide along for the ride behind it. Players can also jump off their boards and physically move items as well, which is necessary when completing some of the challenges. What’s more, anything that is moved by the player stays moved until he or she changes it back (with an easy one-click interface). This means the gamer can set up an area in nearly any way imaginable, and then upload it online to share with friends.

The Reel editor has also returned, allowing players to record or take photos of their best tricks or crashes. Those crashes are also graded this time, and the better the wreck, the more points you’ll receive. Player models visibly take damage as well, from board scuffs to torn clothes and even skin scrapes. Seemingly, everything was thrown in this time, without taking away anything from the core game play.

The only real complaint is that the game can sometimes be a little unforgiving when it comes to landing tricks. It takes a bit of practice to learn how to flip the board just right while flicking the right analog stick. At times, it can feel like you’re doing what you
are supposed to be doing, but your board will do something completely different. But it’s not a problem that can’t be solved with a little practice. With a killer soundtrack to boot (not one of those usual annoying skateboarding game soundtracks featuring nothing but pop punk thrashers no one cares about), and player models that are near perfect in facial expression and flow, “Skate 2” has plenty to enjoy with lots of single and multiplayer replayability.

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