Skate 2 Review (PS3)

When I reviewed Skate late in 2007, I said it was ďa testament to what this generation of gaming can really doĒ. After the difficulty that the Tony Hawk series brought to performing amazing feats on a skateboard, Skate was a unique twist. Skate 2 takes everything from its predecessor and expands on it.

Players are immediately introduced to all the famous skateboarders presented in Skate 2 in EAís very fashionable live-action cinematography, where we see our protagonist leaving jail. Then to molding avatars through the character creation, a robust system that allows for too few physical features and far too many accessories to choose wisely from.

Grinding is a gem in Skate 2. Other tricks may be a chore, but a good grind is...well, unexplainable.
Getting mad air is nothing special. Being able to land a 50 foot drop, keep going and make some sick tricks with that speed, on the other hand...

After making a character, weíre introduced to the most important aspect of Skate 2: New San Vanelona, remade, remodeled, and ridiculous. San Vanelona received a huge upgrade, and is larger than ever. Skaters can do anything imaginable in the giant city, which is so large that getting from one end to the other is reminiscent of driving across town in Grand Theft Auto IV; it takes forever. A good forever.

San Vanelona is filled with buildings, parks, streets, people, cars, security guards, skatersÖif you can think of it, itís probably there. Itís the biggest skate park Iíve ever had the pleasure of enjoying. The city isnít limitless, but itíll appear that way for many, many hours. In fact, getting from place to place becomes a hassle, especially when trying to play through the campaign.

Thankfully, the large set of missions for players to accomplish for money and fame have an instant teleport feature, meaning any missions available will appear in the menu screen, and by hitting a button, youíre there. In the beginning, this feature seems moot, but after an hourís worth of different objectives completed, new obstacles will appear all over San Vanelona, and the tiny radar doesnít show distance.

Of course, getting around without the magical teleportation system is possible on the skateboard, and now on foot as well. No longer must players fear stairwells or small ledges; just hit the Y button and skip off the board, walk where you need, and jump back on. A simple yet amazingly useful feature. However, its implementation is very poor; controlling you avatar while off the board is surprisingly difficult because it can only be controlled with one analog stick. No turning while walking/running, and no walking while changing direction. In this day and age, such control schemes are just pathetic.

Still, getting around on-foot means reaching places previously impossible or very difficult. No more grinding up rails to reach the top of the stairways. Yet being on foot is slow, so what about getting extra speed? Just skitch, or hang onto a car while on your board to pick up speed. Itís not the greatest way to travel, since San Vanelona apparently has no laws for requiring a drivers license, but if you need some extra speed and there are cars around, itís an easy way to get a few more feet off any jump.

And there are so many places to use that speed, it can be overwhelming. If that happens, just make your own! Hop off the board and grab a ramp, some wooden tables, or one of tens of different items that can be moved and placed however you please. Moving them around is not as easy as it should be, with no ability to turn them easily, but setting up a ramp on a tall bridge going uphill for giant airÖwhat could be better?

How about reliving the same jump over and over again? Thatís possible in two ways, by setting a marker before you make the jump so after you make your devastating trick, you can quickly go back and try again as many times as youíd like. The second is to use the instant-record feature, which records the last set of tricks for you to edit, mash together, and make a kick-ass film to post online or send to your friends.

But even before you start playing for points, check out what you can do to in the Hall of Meat. This newly introduced gameplay system gives a point value to the damage your avatar takes on any fall in the career mode and gives money for serious damage. Break bones, tear ligaments, or even hurt other people. Whatever it is, it'll round up enough points, and enough fun, to make its own worthwhile title.

With double the tricks available in Skate 2, finding what trick you want to do can be an overwhelming decision. In fact, there are so many tricks that while freeskating (a mode of play that just lets you skate without the career mode interfering) I found myself accidentally doing tricks I didnít mean or want to, like a foot plant while going up a ramp. In doubling the number of tricks and adding to the different types of tricks possible, developer Black Box seems to have inadvertently made Skate 2 more complicated than its predecessor.

Setting up the environment to make the trick you like is a lot of work, but it's time well spent. If you know what you're doing, that is.
Gaining speed is one of the most important things in Skate 2. Grab onto cars, hunch down while going downhill, or just pedal away to keep a respectable velocity. Just watch those curbs!

Is it a problem? In some cases, yes, though anyone playing the game not worrying about completing the career mode 100% through wonít suffer. Some tricks, such as pumping (which was previously done automatically when making a jump) make gameplay much more difficult, forcing players to think about what their fingers are doing instead of what they want to accomplish on the board. Thereís the potential for an incredible amount of frustration to complete certain objectives, and unlike the original Skate, learning all the moves will be beyond most players.

However, all this doesnít take away from the generally simple and intuitive controls, only from the larger game. New online interaction through completing goals, uploading and editing videos, and making custom designs for skateboards are great additions to the franchise, and most importantly, Skate 2 is fun to play, even if the career does lose its appeal later on. Because the great city of San Vanelona never does.

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By homebrewer (SI Newbie) on Mar 11, 2009
The skating games are now getting less attention from mainstream games. I remember playing thps 3 and it was amazing. But its great for new people that play them, it might give them the motivation to skate for real which i did before.
By Wowerine (SI Elite) on Mar 11, 2009
THPS 3 is the last skating game (the only good one) that I played. Well, I played Underground 2 after that for a very short while... Not good. :|