Skate 2 PlayStation 3
Published by: Electronic Arts
Developed by: EA Black Box
The original Skate was like a breath of fresh air for those who've become frustrated with how stale the Tony Hawk's games have become over the last few releases. The game went for a more realistic approach and you really had to put in the hours to get to grips with the game and master not only the more complicated tricks but also some of the more basic ones. If you had the patience, Skate was a very rewarding experience. In some respects however the PlayStation 3 version was disappointing with some rather serious performance issues and it frequently turned into a slideshow thanks to its appalling frame rate. Thankfully there are no serious performance issues this time around but Skate 2 is still not a game for those who like to get to grips with their games in minutes rather than hours.
The career mode in Skate 2 is set five years after the events in the original game and begins with your character being released from prison. He (or she of course) arrives in what's now known as New San Vanelona (which looks significantly better this time around) which is now much more restrictive for skateboarders and as a result it's much more difficult to get your skateboarding fun around the city. At least that's what you're told but in actual fact there are more than enough opportunities and there are lots of events and challenges to keep you occupied. There's certainly not much of a storyline here but then there doesn't really need to be in all honesty.
The right analogue stick was responsible for a multitude of tricks in the original game and in Skate 2 this is still the case although this time around the control system has been augmented and feels more satisfying on the whole. It could be argued that too many tricks are handled by the right analogue stick and it's not always easy to perform the exact move you require at times because of the precision required in manoeuvring the right analogue stick. That said, the controls on the whole are actually quite impressive and when you use the right stick in combination with other controls (especially the R1 button that allows you to grab onto various objects) you can string together some rather impressive combos. There's still a significant learning curve to the controls and initially they can be frustrating. After a while it all comes together and pulling off more complex combos feels more rewarding than in any other skateboarding title.
There are times in Skate 2 when you'll have to get off your board but doing so feels like a chore in all honesty. Whilst you're off your board you'll notice that the movement is absolutely terrible and feels really laboured. Thankfully you won't have to get off your board too often although you will have to in order to manipulate various objects in your environment. You can move objects such as ramps and rails and position them in such a way so that you can pull off fancier trick combos etc. Whilst it's not a major addition to the game, it's certainly an interesting one.
The multiplayer options, both online and offline, in Skate 2 are plentiful and rather good. A lot of what you've experienced in Skate returns. The S.K.A.T.E. contests, races and best trick contests return and are as enjoyable as they were before. A Hall of Meat mode sees you trying to do the most spectacular bails. Skate 2 offers a Freeskate mode for up to six players. Here you can play in one of the game's areas and you can either do as you please or take part in one of the many challenges that are on offer. Quite a few of these challenges are co-operative so you'll want to find a few people you can rely on to complete these challenges with in an effective manner.
Thankfully, Skate 2 performs much better on the PlayStation 3 than the original Skate and it's much more enjoyable as a result. The frame rate still isn't perfect but it's certainly not problematic this time around. On the whole the game looks quite good. I feel the character models could have been more detailed and the environments in the game are guilty of looking unnaturally angular but this is a small complaint. The game does suffer from clipping issues such as parts of your character's body passing through supposedly solid objects but again these are minor complaints and on the whole the game is visually pleasing.
Skate 2 does offer subtitles although they aren't enabled by default. The main dialogue in the game is subtitled and deaf gamers will have no problems in being aware of what needs to be done as all the objectives are shown in text. That's not to say all of the dialogue in the game is subtitled however. Some of the dialogue is not subtitled and you won't be aware of what other characters are saying to you at times. You'll also be unaware of comments made by your character when he/she has fallen as these comments aren't subtitled. Thankfully the dialogue that isn't subtitled is not of any major importance and it won't prevent you from progressing in the game (although it still would have been good to have had all of the comments subtitled). Tutorial messages are subtitled and the tutorials for Replay Editor, Create-a-Spot and Hall of Meat are all subtitled which is certainly welcome.
I don't think that there can be any doubt that Skate 2 is the best skateboarding game on this generation of consoles. There's a lot of depth here and an enjoyable single and multiplayer experience. The game builds nicely on the original Skate and it's a game that fans of Skate will definitely appreciate. Those who did play the original Skate will no doubt understand that time and effort are needed to get to grips with what is a more realistic and unforgiving experience than any of the Tony Hawk's games. Others might be surprised and might initially be frustrated with how the game takes several hours to get into. The effort is certainly worth it however and whilst it's still not perfect, it's as close as you're going to get at this point in time.