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Friday | December 9, 2016
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Skate 2 (PS3 & X360)

Skate 2 (PS3 & X360)

The original Skate was a phenomenal success when it was released in 2007 – it sold twice as many copies when compared to its competitor Tony Hawk. This was in part due to the fresh approach it brought to the genre and also because of the Flickit control system which proved a massive hit with the gaming community. Today we take a look at the much awaited followup to see if it recaptures the magic of the first.

Developer Black Box have clearly opted to keep in many facets of the first title while adding in a few extras such as hand plants. The end result is a game which focuses on fixing some elements of the first while attempting to improve upon the core gameplay. For the most part it works well, so lets get into the details.

The Flickit control system remains from before but now we have some additional aspects to the moves available. I mentioned hand plants and these add a realistic skating element to the game and additionally there are foot plants and hippy jumps which while a fun concept did not make much of an impact within the game for me. I think part of the problem is that I am a veteran of the original and find the system pretty much close to perfect without many of the new additions.

The first thing you will notice when playing the game is that you can now get off the board and explore the environment on foot which is really useful for times when you want to stay still to survey the surroundings or for when you need to climb up stairs. You can also interact with the environment, so when you are walking you can move objects around as you see fit. This is a very welcome addition to the game as it makes you feel like you are in control of a real life skater. Unfortunately the movement of the skater when he is off the board is less than perfect and he quite often just does not do what you have asked. There were many occasions when I asked him to lift an object and just could not position him in the right place to get it done. Obviously part of this issue is due to the fact that the core code was set up for board movement, however it is really bad that this was not given a little more attention before it went to retail.

Hand Plants work well when you are near the top of a quarter pipe but if you are trying to air off a ramp and plant on something higher then you run into some issues as the system doesn’t always work perfectly. Also you can push out one of your legs during a grab but your character can be slow to do so which means that it is very tricky to pull off without ending up on your face.

The environment manipulation is pretty realistic, meaning while you can move trash cans and benches and even picnic tables you will not be able to move cars or bandstands by hand. Moving objects is easy (once you get in the right position) and they normally stay in your new location of choice, however sometimes the game decides that you really don’t want a ramp in the middle of the street and once it moves out of sight then it will reset to its prior position. You can add any object to your current session maker. So if you move an object to a new place and add it to your marker , if it gets moved and you reset the marker the object will also reset. This works really well in practice, even if it sounds a little strange on paper.

Equally so the game has a decent mechanic for fixing silly mistakes. If you move near an object that you placed by accident (in a pool for instance) you can reset it back to its original location. This object movement expands and lets you create your own spot. Once you have placed the objects where you want them you can open the Create-a-Spot editor, skate through it to get a score and then upload it for other people to try. This is another great idea but sometimes it can go a little wrong. You can scale, move or rotate at the same time which means you need to page through a list of commands in a menu system which includes switching between up/down, forward/backward and left/right scaling. If you can persevere it can be rewarding but it is rather time consuming.

Like before, we have the replay/film editor with some changes to the system. You now have two more cameras to use, a freeform follow camera that moves along with your skater (at a position of your choosing) and a tripod camera that stays stationary but centers the view on your character. Negatively, the film effects are now removed, however they have added them as paid for downloadable content. This leaves a little bit of a sour taste in my mouth to be honest as I don’t see why customers should suddenly be paying for something that was offered for free before.

When you start playing, the majority of the environment is open for your pleasure (apart from a few locked skateparks) and your character starts out with a full skill set and won’t really improve his abilities over time. The system works well because you can totally ignore the goals and story related missions if all you want to do is skate across the environment in a free form, free roaming style.

The story based missions are enjoyable and the developer has included more goals which are available to you throughout your sessions. This means that if you get stuck on one particular mission then you are free to try from a plethora of others then come back to the troublesome one later.

The goal mechanic has changed a little in that you can now jump to them directly from the map and for those of you who were sick finding subway stations in the last game and then skating from them to the goal this will be a blessing. This not only is more intuitive, but it is a massive time saver and you spend more time enjoying the game. Playing devils advocate I am guessing that it could annoy some people who like to explore every inch of the surroundings and it could also lower the importance of the overall environmental landscape as you don’t really need to travel through it to reach your goals.

The online aspect of the game is very strong and you can take part in a whole selection of location specific cooperative objectives. These range from everyone grinding a single rail at the same time (with 6 people involved thats not easy, believe me!), or it could be that you all have to reach a certain score without anyone losing the pace. Players also still have access to Spot Battles and all the competitive content from before which will still prove to be popular. The online side of the game is very capable and professionally handled.

Skate 2 is a decent improvement over the original and will prove very compelling to any sports fans who missed it first time around. It is a fun and enjoyable game for everyone with an interest in the genre and it has a stellar control system which puts the competition to shame. Downsides are that the game has a terrible movement mechanic once you are off the board and the whole experience is a little too similar when compared with its predecessor. All in all however it is highly recommended as the best skating game currently on the market.

Gameplay
88
Flickit control system still is class leading however the off the board side of the game needed more work before release
Graphics
80
The animations are brilliant and the movement is very flowing. Textures could look a bit better however
Audio
89
Fantastic soundtrack and ambient sound effects
Value
83
Career mode is long lasting and online multiplayer is a blast
Overall
87
Should be on your list if you are a skate fan

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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