Skate 2 Review
- Posted January 28th, 2009 at 20:21 EDT by Steven Williamson
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A refined and polished sequel to a brilliant skateboarding game.
- The increased move-set, which gives you further flexibility on your board
- The beautifully designed skateboarding paradise of New San Van
- The brilliant 'Create-A-Spot' mode, which adds further replay value
- The steep learning curve for "noobs" or the impatient
- The clunky on-foot controls
- The occasionally annoying camera angle
When the first game in a new franchise turns out to be hugely popular amongst the masses and shifts millions of units in the process, it’s logical that the developer will try to emulate its success with more of the same. Unfortunately, many follow-ups have one overarching common factor: they’re just not as good. Driv3r, Super Mario Bros. 2, and practically every Sonic The Hedgehog game released since the first in 1991 are prime examples of some of the games that haven’t managed to live up to the high standards set by their originals. As Skate was so critically acclaimed in its first outing, we were worried that Skate 2 may suffer a similar fate.
It hasn’t. In fact, Skate 2 is a sequel that stands majestically on its own merit, taking everything good from the original and expanding on it to make an even deeper and fulfilling experience. Combining great animation with solid physics and a streamlined control scheme, Skate 2 once again captures the fluidity of skateboarding as you flip and grind your way around a virtual skater’s paradise. Despite the fact that Skate 2 sports an almost identical gameplay blueprint to the original - filmed stunts, tricking, street and vert competitions, and races through the cluttered city streets - it manages to spice things up considerably by giving us further control and flexibility on the board, while granting us the freedom to make the experience our own through the addition of some noteworthy new features.
Before we continue to tell you why we think Skate 2 is a worth-while purchase for any fan of this particular sub-genre, it’s worth pointing out that there are a few issues that may be a bone of contention amongst some players. For starters, the wishy-washy storyline doesn’t make any lasting impression whatsoever. It could have been much better, although it’s hard to think of how the developer could structure a decent story around the world of skateboarding. Nevertheless, this tale of a corporation known as Mongocorp, who now rules the streets following the devastation of the original San Vanelona, is one that is instantly forgettable. Most won’t care though, as Skate 2 is a game that prides itself on its skating prowess rather than its ability to tell a tale well. Many gamers will quite happily spend their time looking out for and constructing new and interesting skate-lines around the city, while moving from one NPC to another picking up dozens of missions and side-objectives that prompt you to utilize the full arsenal of tricks.
A more important issue that we feel the need to point out is that some gamers may be put off by the lack of direction in the career mode. There’s no rigid career path to follow. Instead, you’re given the relative freedom to explore the city and pick and choose your tasks. Occasionally, this makes for a rather insular experience that lacks the focus that you’ll find in other games in the action sports genre, Hawk's included. Every trick is available to you from the outset and there’s no leveling system or points to dish out. The campaign is largely about mastering tricks, rather than a gradual and mapped-out career path, which when done well, can be very appealing to those who enjoy structure in their gaming experiences.
Mastering the tricks isn’t very easy either due to a steep learning curve. If you’re straight out of Tony Hawk’s school of skateboarding it’s going to be a struggle to get going as you try and get accustomed to the right stick-wiggling FlickIt system, which has now been enhanced so that you can use the face buttons to control your feet and the triggers to move your hands. There’s even more tricks to master than the first time around -- double in fact -- and it wasn’t that easy back then. Skate 2 is all about inch-perfect positioning, constant concentration, and persistent practice, which are the only way you'll learn to master tricky moves and tough objectives. Impatient gamers may find the going a little too tough. Furthermore, the mastering of the comprehensive move set is occasionally made that little bit tougher by the way the camera shifts at inappropriate times, making it unnecessarily difficult for you to clearly ... (continued on next page) ----