Skate 2 is Rad, but…
It’s hard to believe it’s already been a year and a half since Skate was released. And yet, I would have happily waited longer if it meant some extra polish on the sequel. While Skate 2 takes steps to further innovate the control scheme, add some fun new multiplayer modes, and brings an entirely new massive city to explore, it falls flat on its face in many of the same areas its predecessor did. Which is truly saddening, to say the least. When I first sat down with Skate 2, I had a checklist in my head of issues that I hoped I didn’t see. It wasn’t long before I had witnessed all of them, and added some new annoyances to my list.
First, the Bad
Since I lead into this review with a mostly negative tone, I’ll get all of the bad stuff out of the way off first. The following two paragraphs are taken directly from my original Skate review and still apply to Skate 2.
There’s a bit of an uneven balance when it comes to the various events that will most likely leave you frustrated to the point of wanting to throw your controller through your TV. I’d be lying if I said I haven’t gotten to that point a handful of times already. The problem is that events are so specific and often require you to do something that needs a great deal of focus and precision, as well as over-achieving a set score. So that task at hand is a difficult one, but to make matters worse – there are pedestrians, other skaters and cars everywhere. It’s to the point where they’re not only distracting, but they often prevent you from even being able to attempt your goal. And this is where the frustration lies. What might normally take a dozen attempts to pull off is suddenly increased two-fold due to all of these obstacles.
Another annoyance that is along the same lines is having to do events with other skaters simultaneously. For example, you’re taking part in a best trick comp with 3 other people who are all skating the same half-pipe for 60 seconds. Needless to say, you’re colliding with other people more than you’re landing tricks and it gets really annoying, really fast.
To be fair, not every challenge requires you to perform a specific trick down to the type of flip or grab. A great deal of them are vague, and merely require you to do a flip trick, grab, or achieve a certain score. Later on in the game however, things get more difficult as you’re asked to pull off lines with all of the tricks laid out for you. Throw the obstacles mentioned previously into the mix, and we’re right back where we were with the previous game.
Perhaps the most frustrating new annoyance in Skate 2 is the struggling frame rate. It seems the amount of civilians has been bumped up significantly, which provides a more realistic environment, but also brings the game to a crawl more often than is acceptable. The worst possible time for this to happen is during competitions, which is almost always does. With other 3 skaters in the remote area and dozens of cheering civilians on the sidelines, it’s almost unplayable at times.
There were a number of times the game didn’t seem to be paying attention to what was going on. A certain criteria was up on the screen and I performed the requirements perfectly, but it failed to register. Or in the opposite case, I flubbed the trick and clumsily fell off a platform, but somehow achieved the goal.
Many areas of the first game have been greatly improved. Getting around and doing challenges takes little effort this time around, as you can simply pause the game and jump to any challenge on the map. Challenges on the map are broken down into categories, so it’s easy to blow through your favourite type, or avoid your least favourite.
Editing your character is much, much easier and less tedious in Skate 2. There are no more skate shops at all. Again, the pause menu saves the day with a quick “Edit Skater” option which allows you to modify everything from facial features, to clothing, and of course your gear. Clothing is no longer grouped by company either, but instead by type. So getting an overview of all of the shoes available (for example) is quick and easy.
Not So Primitive
Your skater has evolved a bit since the original Skate and you can now get off your board, walk around, and move objects. While this sounds great, on foot controls are clunky and clumsy at best, and moving objects is just plain tedious. Some challenges require you to setup objects to help score extra points, soften landings, or reach high points, which adds a bit more of a thought process to challenges.
Oh Shit! I Felt That!
Bails in Skate 2 are insane! There’s a new set of challenges called “Thrasher’s Hall of Meat” which are checked off as you break bones and slam your skater into the ground. It’s obvious that a lot of effort went into making the bails appear more painful, and they’ve definitely succeeded. There have been times that I found myself cringing as I witnessed my skater being tossed through the air like a piece of meat. You can perform actions while airborne as well, which basically act as multipliers for the Hall of Meat.
Still Avoiding Online Play
I learned my less playing online with the general public last time around, and will be keeping my distance with Skate 2. Playing with friends is a lot of fun, though. The multiplayer modes are pretty much what you would expect, but perhaps my favourite addition is the freeskate mode which comes packed with location specific challenges. Gap challenges are probably the most fun, as you’re required to hit a certain number of gaps before the time runs out, and before your friends do. Online spot battles are always a good time as well.
Great DLC Already
Right out of the gate, Skate 2 had a DLC pack available. Which in typical EA fashion, was a cheat code to unlock all of the skaters, gear, and locations. But a couple weeks after release, the Filmer Pack was released, which adds advanced camera controls, up to 5 minutes of storage (standard is 30 seconds) for your edited videos, and some new gear. I love creating videos of sick lines and gaps, so I was stoked when I saw this pack available. The most recent pack which was just released this past week, is a new location called “Rob Dyrdek’s Fantasy Plaza”. I wasn’t aware that Rob has a TV show on MTV, so this was merely a new place to skate. But it’s apparently based on the set from his show. Regardless, it’s a lot of fun and brings many new challenges, spots, and gaps to the game. There’s also a handful of new Achievements that have surfaced since this DLC release which hint at a couple more locations which aren’t currently part of the game.
The Final Word
As frustrating as it can be, I still keep coming back for more. Skate 2 is a great game at its core, and even if you’re just skating around town on your own hitting gaps, or doing challenges online with friends, it’s worth the price of admission.