Guest Writer: Dev van der Bank
Who ollied over the cuckoo’s nest?
So, the long awaited Skate 2 has finally hit the marketplace, and being a huge fan of the first Skate, I couldn’t wait to play.
The flick-it system revolutionized the way we looked at skating games. It was frustrating at first but in general it worked out as your thumbs became your feet and it’s essence came through in its simplicity and realism.
So will Skate 2 live up to all the hype or will you be left feeling a little broken?
The first kick in the pants is the size of the demo, weighing in at a mighty 1.5 GB it is in no way small. The other big downer is that the total time you can spend in the demo is a mere 5 minutes, if you complete the challenges you will get time extensions but nothing that will take you much past 9 minutes. The first Skate demo allowed you to play for 30 minutes which felt worth it. You have the option to play the Career Demo or a Multiplayer Demo which lets you play a new feature called â€œ Hall of Meatâ€ with the objective purely being to see just how badly you can “pwn” yourself, the second option is the good old “own the spot” mode which has you setting a trick and then seeing if your opponent can beat your score. There is no online multiplayer in the demo unfortunately, only local. [Check out our full review soon for more online multiplayer information – Ed]
Things in San Verona are different now, the security has been upped and spots have been covered in metal blocks, which means you can’t skate them. The mission of the game is to raise money and get the skaters of San Van a skate park, so there is actually some form of a story line even though I’m sure it is much like the storyline of a porno… it’s there but you really only pitched up for the action.
The character editor is there and there is some freedom in it, for ladies you can now play as a female character and if you a guy who wants to be a chick, who are we to judge?
Now for the gameplay – Skate 2 runs at a lovely 60 fps so it is smooth, unfortunately it’s more of a frozen butter kind of smooth as there are some chunky bits.
You can get off your board but it doesn’t really feel natural, as the animations are slow and heavy and going up stairs is a slow process. Luckily this is a skating game so you are on your board most of the time. In the demo you are confined to Slappy’s new skatepark, which is a little smaller than the Community Centre but has some bigger jumps. There are over 50 new tricks, but the problem with them is that the game has taken on a slightly more complicated role and you have to perform button combinations now to get them right e.g. triggers + x + direction. To do a coffin now requires 4 buttons, so unlike the first Skate, it is not as simple. The next thing I found with Skate 2 is that the analogue sticks are a little more sensitive and so the tricks are slightly easier.
Additionally you can also move objects around which is a great feature, the only problem that I had with that is while I was grinding a rail that could be moved some random skater skated into it, knocking it over and in turn sending me on a one way ticket to â€˜concreteville’ – a little frustrating. It also seems as though you can land much bigger drops in Skate 2, which may not be a bad thing. Instant replays are also available for really bad bails which is followed by the usual screen of how many bones you have broken (which looks much better now), there is also a new screen that shows how fast you hit ramps and whenever you do gaps and drops it tells you how big they were.
A new feature is that you can kick your board out which helps when you see that you are going to bail and at times your skater will kick the board out himself so there’s less pointless falling. Another thing which I found is that the game is a little slower than the first and when you try and use both analogue sticks to turn faster to get for example a 540 Â°spin, the whole motion has been slowed down as well, we possibly won’t see spins bigger than 900’s in the full game. Another aspect that will leave you disappointed is when you land that 360 flip down a set of stairs you won’t feel like a pro as in Skate 1 because the guy before you just did a no comply fingerflip down the same set. The camera angles are a little less than desirable; I found that when I was exiting certain grinds that the camera would drop below my character, leaving you with a view of bored and spinning wheels with no character in sight. The new loading screens are awesome to watch, they show a variety of tricks being done in slow motion and you’ll barely see the same loading twice in close succession. Overall the game does look slightly better, in no way is the game redesigned from the ground up but it is still a good-looking game.
Initially I was a little disappointed with how the game turned out, but after playing many, many 9 minute sessions I started to get a feel for the game and the tricks and lines got bigger, but at the same time I can’t help but feel a little sad that we had to say goodbye to the simplicity of the controls and make way for button combinations, sure, it had to be done or else they wouldn’t have been able to get all the new tricks in, which is not a bad thing as it opens up the door for new possibilities. It’s just that the first Skate was literally 1+1, and it was as easy as that, but it seems that Skate 2 took that equation and added some long division.
I have no doubt in my mind that it will be a good game, from the long video clip in the end (2minutes 20 sec to be exact) it’s fair to say that the scale of the game is much bigger – the new ramps are huge and the drops are just as massive, I just feel that they may be slipping away from the realism that the original Skate achieved. I think Skate and Tony Hawk are having a dance off and that Skate 2 may be stepping on Tony Hawk’s shoes a little bit – not enough to be a comparison but enough to be noticed. The question of whether or not the demo is worth the 1.5 gig’s is up to you but personally, I would rather wait for the full game.
So what do you guys think, will it be as revolutionary as the first Skate or might it be that after a month everyone will be dusting off the original Skate?
Last Updated: January 12, 2009