Skate 2 Review

The original Skate was considered a savior to the skateboarding genre of video games two years ago when the Tony Hawk franchise was fading out. Its innovative controls and being a better representation of the skateboarding lifestyle gave new life to the genre and fans of the sport as well. Two years later, the sequel is finally here and while San Vanelona underwent some changes because of a natural disaster, the core game is still fundamentally the same with some additions that weren’t in the first game. That same satisfaction of skateboarding is still there as well of nailing the perfect line or consistently executing harder flip tricks.

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The career mode in Skate 2 is fundamentally the same as the first game as there is an open city to skate around filled with challenges to complete. Like the first game, the single-player portion can be difficult at times, but definitely beatable even if it has to take millions of tries to complete a specific challenge, which is a really admirable parallel to real-life skateboarding. EA Black Box has managed to replicate the skateboarding lifestyle very well in Skate 2 from deathraces, being chased by the cops, finding awesome spots to skate on, and more. Due to being in an open world, you can just free skate or complete sets of challenges in any order, which is nice to have. Eventually, the later part of the game does ask for specific tricks to complete certain challenges, which can be frustrating just like the first game not getting the flip trick or specific grind you want to execute, getting hit by a car, or bailing millions of times. There are many side tasks to do as well from emptying out pools, letting Mike cut out a path for you to grind easier, and complete Hall of Meat challenges, in which you have to bail in specific ways to complete them. Speaking of bailing, that mechanic has improved and sort of became its own metagame getting a high score for the worst bail braking as many bones as possible. As a single player game, Skate 2 does have infinite replay value due to its community features like the replay editor and the new Create-A-Spot feature.
822498-002_superMultiplayer consists of local Party Play games and online with a maximum of eight players. Local mutliplayer is nice to have around if others want to play on the same TV taking turns on modes like Spot Battle and S.K.A.T.E., but the online is where the multiplayer truly shines. The online is split up into freeskate and competitive modes. Freeskating online reminds me of Burnout Paradise as other players in the same room can just skate together as well as complete specific objectives. If freeskating is not up your alley, the competitive modes are the meat of the multiplayer with the same modes like Spot Battle, Jam, and Deathrace from the first game as well as Hall of Meat for the best bail. New features have been added which are cool like rating your competition whether or not they had a sick line. In addition, uploading replays and photos to the Skate Reel return as well as being able to rate them YouTube style. The level progression for the online multiplayer is the same from the original as long as you are consistently doing well getting 1sts, 2nds, or 3rds for more experience points. The online multiplayer can be as addictive as the single player competing online against others just like a random real life skate session.
New San Vanelona does look like a beautiful city graphically that is filled with diverse locations. From the Downtown area, the beach, the school, and the mountain overlooking the San Vanelona Hollywood-like logo, the game definitely feels more diverse to skate in unlike the first game. Unfortunately, the framerate consistently does not stay stable at any point of the game which is expected from Black Box considered they never fixed the framerate issues from the first game and the recent Need for Speed games. When the game runs at 60 frames per second, the game runs and looks beautifully, but at a consistent 30 frames, it does not recapture the same feeling playing it at 60 frames. The framerate issue as a whole can be distracting at times, but does not make the game unplayable. Some animations can feel sluggish, but that it is a nitpicky flaw. The characters look great as this game is filled with customizations from your own skater, your board, and even having custom graphics on your board. Skate 2’s graphics are indeed good, but if it runs at a consistent 60 frames per second like Burnout Paradise, then it would be a remarkable achievement.
This is your playground

This is your playground

As for the sound, the licensed soundtrack is a mixed bag as expected for a game by EA. There are definitely some hits and misses, but at least all the tracks are tolerable to listen to. The characters’ voice acting can also be hit and miss with the pro skaters saying their usual cheesy lines either by normal conversation or trash talk. Your camera buddy Reda can also be annoying at times, but he is not a huge distraction. All the other sound effects are accurate enough to the skating experience, which is fine by me.

Despite being a flawed experience, Skate 2 is still a great skateboarding game and being the only one around till the competition makes an attempt of a comeback. It is definitely what the first game should have been with more tricks that complete the core skateboarding trick list even though there are probably more tricks like flatland moves that could be added in a future installment. After a two year wait, it is nice to return to the innovative control system in a redesigned city that revitalized the genre to a new direction. The core gameplay still feels fresh and not yet stale with all the new additions. The career mode is still good and challenging, but the online multiplayer is the true shining point of the game with the freeskating, competitive modes, and all the community features that are filled with customization like the Skate Reel and Create-A-Spot. If the developers are able to fix the flaws like improving the on-foot controls and having a stable framerate at 60 frames per second, then the Skate experience would be perfect. Skate 2 does not suffer the sophomore slump as it is still the best representation of skateboarding in gaming for now.
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