Review: Skate 2
Skating vs Mongs, apparently.
Fair play to EA, when they finally turned their attentions to the skating genre they pretty much nailed it first time. Unlike other games in the genre, Skate (contrary to the trademark, I’m not going to shout its name every time I write it) didn’t use the Y/triangle button to grind and A/cross to jump. Instead it followed the trend of all EA sports games and mapped as many moves to the analogue sticks as possible. It worked better than expected and helped EA to wrestle the crown away from Activision’s Tony Hawk series.
We gave it 9/10 and it remained a firm favourite with online Peowwsters for the first half of 2008. The single player career was full of fiendish challenges and the online modes allowed for tense competion and laid back freeskating. Of course the best thing about Skate was that it stripped out all that bollocks that the Tony Hawk games had added. You know, driving sections, parkour, Bam fucking Margera, ‘gnarly’ skate video plotlines and all the other needless additions that turned a once-great series into a dull and bloated parody of its former self.
So when Skate 2 was announced with talk of getting off your board and moving obstacles around I was a little peturbed. Firstly, skating games are always at their best when you are actually, you know… skating in them. Secondly, I don’t want to create my environment. I want some clever level designing bloke to do it for me. Then the demo came out and introduced some bollocks plot about you getting out of jail and it turned out that the walking controls sucked ultimate ass. Things didn’t look good.
Thankfully, the full game is just as excellent as before. The controls are still much the same as before (there are a few new moves but they don’t complicate things), the walking is actually fairly useful (the game world has far too many stairwells in it) and you aren’t called upon to move obstacles around that often. On the downside, these changes are basically the only new things in the game worth mentioning. So don’t go expecting, you know, a whole new game here because you aren’t getting one.
What you get is a little more of the same. The gameworld of San Vanelona is similar to before but with a few more spots in there. It’s worth looking around although the game negates the need to do so by allowing you to quickly teleport everywhere (Skate allowed you to travel by train but limited you to stations). Certainly useful if you are ploughing through events but I found it detracted from the exploration aspect the previous game a little and, of course, after nailing some of the horrible later challenges from the first game, the initial joy of finding a bench and tricking off of it for an hour no longer really seems to apply.
That said, the replay function is as excellent as ever, allowing you to edit and upload your replays. It still works excellently and does encourage creativity (and persistence). Luckily there is no longer an achievement for getting 25 ratings, so no more whoring yourself on GameFAQs. Thankfully. No ‘win six ranked online matches in a row’ either whilst we’re on the subject. Phew!
In my counterpoint review of the first Skate game, I said â€œRoll on Skate 2 which will hopefully remedy some of the problems with the game and add more variety to the moves.â€ Well in the sequel they’ve done exactly that, as well as added things that I didn’t particularly want to see.
The first thing that’s immediately different is that you can now get off the board and walk around. Whilst off the board you can manipulate certain parts of the environment, this means moving ramps, rails and other objects that litter the environment. Unfortunately the walking is very clunky and awkward, but it does help immensely when you need to get up a flight of stairs to get back to a spot.
Once you get into the meat of the game you’ll notice a larger list of moves available to you, mostly by way of pressing A or X whilst grabbing the board in the air. Another of the new moves are hand plants, whilst approaching the lip of a ramp hold down RB to grab hold of it and do a quick handstand. There’s also hippy jumps, which are done by holding down A & X simultaneously and releasing them to jump up, leaving the board on the ground.
Using all of these moves in you arsenal opens up massive amounts of possibilities, when it comes to getting a high scoring combo and makes the game more enjoyable because of it. The game does seem slightly easier than the previous instalment, but it still isn’t easy and some challenges can take an almost infuriating amount of time to complete.
Secondary Score: 9/10
The challenges in Skate 2 are an odd mix. There’s nothing individually that is quite as fiendish as the ones in the first game but they seem to stack the tricky ones together. So you’ll be asked to complete a difficult rail challenge straight into an equally difficult flip one for example. Both will be doable some of the time but combining them without bailing becomes a passport to Sobland. Consequently the game has a knack of bringing you close to suicide before you suddenly nail the challenges. Satisfying… except for when the game gets stuck after one and you have to reset. Hngggh.
The online aspect of the game has been improved by adding Burnout Paradise style co-op challenges. These range from simple to stroke-inducing and require a fair amount of teamwork and a lot of patience and are probably the best new thing in the game. From score targets to specific goals such as getting all players to grind the same rail simultaneously or clearing a list of tricks in a time the challenges have plenty of variety add a lot more focus to multiplayer sessions. You’ve still got all your adversarial modes as well as the lovely freeskating so there’s plenty to do once you’ve finished the single player game.
So, is it worth your forty quid? Well, not really. The same play area (albeit modified), the same kinds of challenges and a handful of mostly ignorable new additions. It’s not exactly inspiring stuff although it’s mostly forgivable for a first sequel (although Tony Hawk 2 was more of a leap than this). So I’m tempted to say that you should wait for this to drop in price but the online aspect probably needs to be enjoyed now when its still busy.
In fact, if you’re new to the series I’d probably recommend that you pick up the original one as there was never that much wrong with it but Skate 2 is just as good as the original, just a little unambitious and seeing as how it probably shares much of the same coding it doesn’t deserve as high a score as before. If they do the same thing next year, EA can literally get to fuck but for now it’s nice to get back into the series as the excellent controls, hefty challenge and varied online options still knock the competion into a cocked hat. Nine for quality, six for value (it still has plenty to do) and a two for progression. Eight overall… fair enough but not the ten it should have been.