|System: X360, PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: EA Black Box||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Electronic Arts||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Jan. 21, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-6||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Youcef Baouchi
When Skate was released last year, it revolutionized the skating genre. The developer, Black Box, decided to go with a more realistic approach than the arcade-style seen in other games. Skate 2 feels very similar to the first game, but the developer made some additions this time around. Some of the features include double the amount of tricks, skitching (hanging on to cars to gain more speed), the ability to create a female character, get off the board and run, and even move objects to create better situations for bigger tricks. Skate 2 is even better than last year's outing, but it is not without problems.
The gameplay is very similar to the first, so for the most part, the game will feel largely the same, except for one major change and that is the ability to get off your board and move objects. Moving objects adds a whole new dimension to the game, because now you can create jumps and grind spots that you could not reach before. While I was playing, I came across a giant stairwell that was impossible to gap without extra help, so I found a couple ramps and a box. I placed the box on the ground, lined up the first ramp, and then slid the second ramp on top of the box and therefore created a much bigger ramp. I then positioned myself at the top of the road, grabbed onto a car to gain more speed (also a new feature), and finally went off the jump. After several tries, I gapped the stairwell. It was a challenge, but it was made all the sweeter and more satisfying through the shaping of the environment.
However, one very annoying aspect of the game would have to be the walking around. For some reason Black Box did not find it necessary to refine the off-the-board controls. Walking around not only feels terrible, it looks even worse. That's because they are only making use of digital controls, meaning the character's movement is extremely limited. This is especially annoying when you consider how important this new feature is to the game.
There are four different gameplay modes, which include Career, Free Skate, Party Play, and online. Career mode's focus is to re-establish a skate scene and fight back against the police. The game starts with the main character leaving prison. Over the five years spent in prison, San Vanelona has changed from the skate paradise that players may remember from the first game. Instead, the city is now called New San Vanelona, and it's been rebuilt by a mega-corporation bent on keeping skaters out of the city. Before players start their careers, they can edit their character to look how they want; players can also choose a female character unlike the last game. There are a lot of different skate brands that players can choose from. There are also many different kinds of shoes, pants, and jackets. Although, when it comes to choosing facial features, there are not nearly as many options. I had difficulty getting the character to resemble me. In fact, my X360 avatar looks a lot more like me than my Skate 2 character. Within the editing mode, players will also have the option to pick their stance (goofy or regular) and even pick hand gestures, which are controlled by the D-pad. Another feature worth mentioning is the graphics creator, which lets you create your own graphics that can be downloaded and used on shirts, hats, and boards.
There are a few different types of missions within career mode. The four main missions are Career, Races, Street, and Tranny Contests. The Career missions will have you do certain tricks over obstacles like gaping over a waterfall while they take pictures. The Races are probably the most fun, because they are fast and a really great way of making money. You have to put down some cash before you race. The maximum bet is $2,500, and with four different racers, the winner will take home $10,000. My only complaint about this mode is that it is too easy, you will always win; races are rarely close. To top it off, if you don't win, you will get the option to retry without penalty. Money can be used for buying more merchandise or property. Similarly, street contests also have players competing against computer opponents. There are three rounds, and players will acquire points at the end of each round depending on their performance. In order to win, they must complete the competition with the most points. Snakestyle contests are very similar except players can only advance if they are in the top two. These contests too cost a small fee.
Free skate lets you skate around New San Vanelona. While in Free Skate you can do whatever you want, but none of the challenges available in the career mode show up here. Party Play is a lot of fun, and you can play with up to four players locally. There are three different events to choose. You can pick from Spot Battle, S.K.A.T.E, or Hall of Meat. Spot Battle will have players take turns trying to perform the highest scoring trick; if they bail or crash, their turn will be over. In S.K.A.T.E mode, players must avoid earning the letters by copying flip tricks successfully. They can give letters to others by setting difficult flip tricks to copy. Hall of Meat is probably the most entertaining mode of the three. Players will take turns trying to achieve massive wipe-outs. This mode is fun because it sets up some very funny moments.