Skate 2 is the successor of the first skate. When this one saw the light about two years ago it was defined by the differences with the slumbering Tony Hawk series. Where the latter lost itself in constantly more complex and unrealistic tricks and a buttload of features, skate managed to surprise with a refreshing and more realistic control.
The game starts promising with an estranging intro movie in HD that explains the story. Your friend picks you up after you’re released from jail and brings you to the skate part to get used to the real world and your skateboard (of course) again. A couple of hours later you’re getting your career back on the road, look solutions for the somewhat too clean and skate-unfriendly society, cops and and many obstacles on public buildings so that you can quickly get your style back in order.
You do that by competing in challenges, having pictures taken from you while doing spectacular moves or by simply kicking other pro’s asses. Basis of all this is your control over the two thumbsticks will or won’t make you succeed in your tricks. An Ollie f.i. is done by flicking the stick first down and then up. All tricks have their own specific needs and subtle movement is necessary so you’ll be busy for hours with practising before putting them all together without thinking or making mistakes. The advantage of this is that you feel serious satisfaction when you achieve your first success or even when you managed to pull together a long grind for the first time. The gameplay is still very much ok.
The city itself is big and relatlively free to be explored and luckily the makers also added a good maps as well as the possibility to immediately… ehm… transport yourself to where ever you want to go through the menu. You hear that Rockstar? Luckily the streets and corners are filled with skate fun so that the skating itself remains pleasant and always has some surprise up its sleeve. Handy in this episode is that you can get off your board and walk around. It’s not very exciting but comes in handy when you get stuck or want to drag around some objects (like a bench or trashcan) to create your own skate lines to prepare for the perfect combos.
Too bad that the animations fall short a bit and also the physics and hitboxes of the dragging around could be a lot better. Also it’s a bitch that these things don’t stay put when you accidentally fall against them. A similar frustration pops its ugly head when pedestrians or other skaters get in your way or you fall down because they’ve left a half-eaten apple on the road. The camera also doesn’t help with this but overall it does manage to bring everything nicely into the picture. Better luck next time though! Luckily you can still set up starting points for runs so that you can try again quickly or warp to your favorite places.
Graphically we can’t complain with beautiful animations that – thanks to the zoom – are often shown very beautiful and detailed. The models could have been a bit more impressive (just like the Editor with which you create your own character) but the city itself is very large, with many and sharp textures that not only are brought to life thanks to the many sound effects but also an extensive soundtrack. Think amongst others of Wu-Tang Clan, Black Sabbath and The Clash.
Also in multiplayers there’s a lot of experience, both on- and offline. Only criticism here is that you can’t explore the entire city at once with your friends like f.i. in Burnout Paradise, but is limited to certain parts. For those that like sitting in the same chair with friends there’s also a lot to be done but you’ll have to wait turns.
Skate 2 is a good game eventhough it doesn’t offer so much more than its predecessor. For episode 2 we are happy with more of the same, the good and realistic controls, the satisfaction-giving gameplay and beautiful presentation. For number three, however, more work will have to be put in the open world, especially online, and features like the dragging of objects need to be worked out more. Those looking for a skating game with balls and quality: this is it.