When Skate released onto the shelves in late 2007, many of its buyers were intrigued by the new approach EA had taken to skating. Still, with myself being an avid Tony Hawks fan, I was looking forward to once again pulling off insane Indy 900's over a 350 ft gap, and maintaining my seemingly flawless grind throughout the in-game world. So, upon the arrival of Skate, I tried it. And failed, horribly.
This was something I'd never seen before. Using the right thumbstick to control ollies, flips and grinds was totally out of the ordinary and at first, confusing. Using the triggers coupled with the thumbsticks to perform grabs, spins and body-flips gave me some kind of feel to the poor guy I was hurtling towards the ground with at tremendous speed. I wanted to pull these tricks off. Skate 2 takes this crazy control system and gives it some extra flavour, functionality and finesse. Strangely, despite the ongoing trend of sequels being more casual-gamer-esque (Gears 2, Halo 3, any other game with a number after it), Skate 2 maintains its difficulty bandana. Stringing together combos consisting of flip tricks, grinds and manuals are as tough as ever and luckily, as rewarding as ever - the amount of times you'll put up a credit-crunching combo only to wade into the pedestrian that's taking a morning stroll only gets your controller out of the window, or on the floor. If this pedestrian isn't there though... it's a good thing for both you, and your beat up controller.
After you've spent hours practicing your combos and grabs, the career mode allows you to roam around New San Vanelona doing as you and your mind please. The actual story behind Skate 2 is after your prison stint, a company known as the Mongocorp have paraded in and virtually erased skating from the city. Rails now have some kind of anti-grind-bars on them, and security guards are at every plantation pot - it's been changed, and your job is to change it back. Eventually, you'll end up straying away from the career and moving your interest elsewhere, and happily, there's a considerable amount of things you can jump off and skate upon. This is furthered by the new feature of being able to hop off your board and move objects which helps cement Skate 2 as one of the best free-roaming titles around. Of course, you can't move half-pipes and buildings but if a bench can help you with your task in career mode, move it to where you need it, and trick off it. This system is a little rugged though, and the edgy, blocky movement can be frustrating at times. You can move a ramp directly infront of a wall though, which is fun.
Skate 2 has once again excelled with its physics. The engine used to power your skater as you either flail him (or her, Skate 2 now lets you choose your sex) either off a 50 ft ramp or directly into a wall is as ragdoll as before and as in the previous game - offers up hilarious results. An entire game mode named Hall of Meat gives you and your friends the chance to cause as much bodily damage as possible, with fascinating results. Put this with co-op play, freeskate, and the usual skating game modes, and you have a very solid multiplayer game.
Looks wise, Skate 2 has nothing to be ashamed of. The framerate does lack at times but with a city the size of New San Vanelona, it's expected. Animations look good, and the whole city has a detailed feel to it. The soundtrack, as they are in skateboarding games, is once again top dollar. Performances by Dragonforce, Motorhead, Nas, Rage Against The Machine and Wu-Tang Clan make the hours upon hours of roaming around even more enjoyable.
Skate 2 has somehow managed to take the original recipe, and improve on it. The controls are robust and clever, the presentation is smooth and the feel of the game is superb. It's certainly the most realistic skating game around, and definitely one of the most challenging. Just make sure you have spare controllers.
Pros: + Skating has been truly captured in a game + Huge city to tear up + Excellent multiplayer
Cons: - Buggy off-board movement - Career mode gets tedious
9 / 10