Xbox 360 Review: Skate 2

Are you ready to smack your jaw on the sidewalk again?

In Skate 2, 5 years have passed since your “mysterious” disappearance from the skate scene, and in your absence things have most definitely changed. A mega-corporation has changed the face of city – now it’s up to you to fight back! Employing inverts, one-foots, hippy jumps, finger flips and more, you’ll create your Skate 2 skater, and help re-build the skate scene in New San Vanelona – then get together with friends for Skate 2’s immense new multiplayer mode, Hall of Meat – in which the object is to fluff your tricks and damage your skater as much as possible!
The original Skate had its fair share of problems, but overall it was a good game…it just lacked direction. It seems that they have listened to the fans and tried to include many changes they wanted, like being able to get off your board and walk up stairs or to drag objects to make a great area for tricks. But is it enough?
In some ways it is, but it’s not without hurdles for you to climb. The biggest being the controls, they can be too accurate for their own good, once again using the analog sticks to perform tricks and just a degree out can mean the difference between one trick and another, which can be frustrating when the game demands you perform a specific move to progress. As you can probably tell, I’m not exactly the greatest skateboarding fan…mainly because I’ve always been terrible at them.

I’m grateful that you can get off your board instead of trying to jump up stairs like in the first game, but the co-ordination of your character is horrendous. It’s like trying to control a videogame drunk, which is pretty tough. The same applies to moving objects around; the controls are pretty bad overall. Skate 2 is one of those games that if you can get past all that, you’ll love with all it has to offer…which is quite a lot.
For example, there are new tricks to please the Hawk fans and less trick specific missions than the first game. You can also teleport to any location to save on time, you do have to play S.K.A.T.E. but it’s not nearly as frustrating as the original. The rest of the career is focused on missions that see you get points instead of trying to perform the impossible tricks, which will no doubt please newcomers and those who hated that before.

If you just play Freeskate or multiplayer, then the game opens up and becomes much better. It’s when you have to do specific missions that the game loses all grace and can be frustrating. When you get tricks right, you’ll feel great…but it feels more of a temporary high as something will happen that will annoy you. The point I’m trying to make is when you’re just having fun skating alone or with friends, the game is a blast…the rest is just problematic. Racing is awful plus the missions are repetitive and irritating. It wouldn’t be so bad if the controls were tailored to the more casual gamer instead of those with plenty of time on their hands. I have patience, but not many have that much to endure the way the game plays.
On the presentation front, all is pretty standard. Animation is superb, but the engine itself has had no changes and character models are disappointing to look at. Voice-acting is done well by the professional skateboarders, but the soundtrack is pretty bad with mostly forgettable songs. I just plugged my iPod into my 360 and listened to some of my own music instead, but apparently you can’t do that with the PS3 version for some reason, tough break Sony fans.

The Verdict

A way to sum up Skate 2 is “When it’s good, it’s really good. But…” That’s the problem, there’s always a reason to hate and love the game at almost the same time. When you just skate around, it’s excellent…but the rest of the game is hit and miss. If you want a great career mode, you won’t find it here but if you just want to skate across an open world then this is for you.