By Rob Burgess, The Linc
Skate 2 is the sequel to the much-loved Skate, developed by EA Blackbox. The innovative ‘flick it’ trick system employed on Skate was a revolutionary turn for the extreme sports genre, yet the game was not without its flaws. The inability to move up stairs or around other obstacles, along with the difficulty of the objectives made it frustrating. These issues, among others, are addressed in Skate 2, along with new features.
The “career” mode for Skate 2 begins with a video introduction to the professional skateboarders who make appearances throughout the game. The player-controlled character is faceless in the video so that he/she can be customised afterwards. An important change to these is that there are now no tasks that require specific tricks to complete. This allows for more freedom in the criteria for objectives, giving the player an opportunity to perform any number of tricks.
Tasks in Skate 2 vary from a linear career path with optional races, spot ownerships and challenges, all of which can be accessed and instantly travelled to via a map on the pause menu. There are additional activities across the game, and the map is a great tool if instead of travelling on foot or skateboard. Moving across areas of the aforementioned map is certainly an improvement to that of the original, now walking, going up stairs and moving around obstacles has been made much simpler.
Skate 2 is a difficult game, which requires patience and determination, though there are a number of features in the game that will help the player overcome the challenging tasks, making the game less frustrating and tiring. Newcomers to the Skate trick system can use an optional tutorial for basics at the very beginning of the single player career, and other optional tutorials appear when objectives require the player to perform certain types of tricks such as grinds, grabs or flips, all of which aid the player in becoming a custom to the other control scheme on offer.
Online play is great with a vast range of game modes. In both ranked and unranked matches there is a choice of Deathrace, Hall of Meat, Spot Battle, S.K.A.T.E., Best Trick, Jam, and Free skate. Video replays and photos from the single player career, as well as player created “Spots”, can be uploaded so others can view and rate them.
However, despite the improvements and additions to Skate 2, the skater looks extremely awkward, inflexible and slow without a skateboard under his feet. Where animation for each slight turn, intricate trick and gruesome bail is outstanding on the board, movement is extremely poor and disappointing when on two feet. The controls, which work extremely well for skating, become heavy, sluggish and imprecise when taking control of the player to walk and climb up stairs. The ability to move objects to more advantageous positions has been added to complement the off-board movement. Although, apart from in some challenges, this is useless.
Skate 2 is a good-looking game but is no step up from the original Skate. There are common technical issues when playing the game including texture loading and a generally washed out look, with textures looking less detailed, and overall not appearing as visually sharp as the original. The professional skaters on the other hand have improved; there is a lot more detail, with good use of colours and tones. The cameo appearances provide good voice recordings and there is a large selection of life-like characters. The player-controlled character even becomes scratched, damaged and scraped after a particularly harsh bail.
Overall Skate 2 lacks enough improvements for them to be essential. The most surprising problem with the game is the off-board movement. Time spent off the board may be minimal, but only adds to frustration when the most needed improvement to the game was the removal of any annoying gameplay elements. By no means a bad game; it has many good features, but is below expectations for repairing and expanding on the original game.