Review: Skate

The original Skate reinvented skateboarding in videogames with the flick of a stick, literally, featuring the most realistic and bold skating gameplay since Tony Hawk learned to manual and eventually went Underground. It is no secret that Black Box’s rookie contender came along at the right time to dethrone the decade-long reign of Sir Hawk’s aforementioned franchise, which had grown so tired in its own right it was limping itself into a body bag, ready to be heaved into the deep end of an undrained pool. Now a year later and with high expectations, Skate 2 arrives without competition and while not nearly as ground-breaking as the original, Skate 2 still finds plenty of ways to impress.

San Van has now been renamed and remade into New San Vanelona, and the level design builds on the old while adding some great new areas. There is the always faithful Freeskate mode and a Career mode, which tells a much more fleshed out story than the original. Honestly, with as many hours as I have put into Skate and Skate 2 simply Freeskating, I almost wouldn’t mind if Freeskate was the only option in the game. There are so many spots to skate, and even more ways to shred them, especially with the improved trick list.

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Although some spots do look very similar to the original, there is only one returning area that makes me feel like space was wasted: the Matrix Plaza. The gigantic monument doesn’t have nearly the potential as many other smaller spots, and axing MP would have freed up real estate for more new parts of the city instead of bringing back that eyesore. While MP may very well be a favorite spot of some Skate fans out there, my favorite spot hands down is the community center, and I miss it more than anything. Not only was the community center the beginning point and learning area for the player to grasp the controls for the first time in the original, it was also the very first location Black Box designed and grew up with as well, which makes it an obvious choice for resurrection. I, for one, would be happy to pony up some cash for community center-flavored DLC, hint-hint EA.

Speaking of spending money, currency actually serves a purpose this time around. Instead of having a Scarface-size stash to be blown on apparel, you can now pay for areas (the Fun Track, an extension to Danny Way’s park, is a must-buy), bodyguards, and some favors from returning characters (like Sammy, who is now your resident pool-drainer). The core of Skate 2, however, is all about the Flickit control scheme, and Skate 2 doesn’t leave much to desire in this department. The bag of tricks has been expanded greatly, with the ability now to invert, no comply, boneless, one-foot, and pull the much needed hippie jump, to name a few. Somehow, the experts at Black Box have managed to complete what I thought was a nearly perfect control scheme, doubling the tricks from the first game, while still allowing players to push regular or mongo, all of which shows a balance between simplicity and complexity within the controls; it is a serious accomplishment.

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Closing Comments:

Other new features include the ability to move tables, rails and kickers all over the world, jumping off your board (which unlocks one of the easiest Achievements/Trophies in the game), a radsauce Create-a-spot feature, which allows you save the custom set-up in your re-jiggered area (and even upload it online for other people to try to own), and even a sweet graphics creator allowing you to customize everything from hoodies to decks. All that is great, but the real meat in Skate 2 is the balanced gameplay mechanic that makes all that other stuff fun to tinker with. Whether you’re a skater (like myself) or simply a gamer who likes to virtually tear it up, Skate 2 offers a fairly complex control scheme that rewards those who dig into the moves with one of the most bold, creative, and downright fun games, like ever.

Versions Reviewed: Xbox 360, PS3