After years of genre domination, the Tony Hawks series of skateboarding titles was finally overtaken by EA’s Skate. Featuring a finger bending new control method utilising flicks of your analogue sticks, it proved that you didn’t have to be performing ridiculously over the top tricks to have a truck load of fun.
The sequel, unsurprisingly, offers more of the same. The mechanics of the original control method - using the sticks to control your character's feet on the board - remains, and is indeed one that takes a heck of a lot of use before you’ll finally feel at home.
For newcomers, it initially feels incredibly unwieldy. Attempting to get your boarder up to speed, duck down to initiate a higher jump, as well as keep them aiming in the right direction can feel just as awkward as trying to balance an Alsatian on each finger. Safe to say that those lacking the patience to learn a whole new control method, particularly if you’re coming straight from the Tony Hawks titles, should feel a little wary. Skate 2 is a truly difficult game to get to grips with, so expect hours of frustration.
If you played the first title you can hop right in. The only control-based additions are grabs during grinds, and hand plants. So with only two new moves to really get your head around, you can jump right in and be on your merry way as soon as the speedy PS3 install has finished.
One brand new addition is the ability to hop off your board and explore the world on foot. As unexciting as that might sound, it offers up the opportunity to drag and move pieces of scenery in order to set-up the perfect high scoring run. Quite a number of tricks and tests require you to utilise this brand new feature, so it’s certainly one you’ll be using time and time again. Your character does move in a rather stilted manner off his/her board unfortunately, so lining up the perfect run and even manoeuvring so you can grab the required object can be a real test in itself.
The single player career mode - which starts as real-life actors offering up the very beginnings of the story - essentially tasks you with completing various objectives and tests in order to reach the game’s conclusion. Basically the story goes that the city is a no skate zone, with police patrolling every street corner to stop all these pesky kids from having a good time. There are brief snippets of dialogue as you progress through the game’s challenges, but the excitement comes from performing the best and most exciting tricks on offer.
One major plus for Skate 2 is the overwhelming sense of accomplishment. Rather than offer up new tricks as you progress, the only thing holding you back from performing the real top quality stuff right from the off is your own ability. If you’re coming to Skate 2 from a standing start, once you do start to pull off cracking tricks and point-packing runs, you truly feel like it’s solely your accomplishment.
Another major feature - sadly to be added via DLC - is the ability to record and upload your own up to 5-minute long clips. For budding young film makers eager to show off their editing and boarding skills, this is an incredible addition to keep you coming back for more. Who doesn’t like to show off after all?
One swift note on the graphics. Though the world is not quite the best looking out there (though it’s certainly not ugly) it’s not only large, but absolutely packing with places to explore and runs to discover. Don’t let the somewhat bland looks put you off.
For skating fans, Skate 2 is the very best on offer. It’s got an intuitive control system, a huge world to explore, and simply tonnes to do.
Just don’t expect to be pulling off any major tricks right from the off. This is one you’ll need to sink hours into to get its true worth.