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Skate 2 Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Skate 2 isn't the innovative sequel that some people had been hoping for, but that doesn't mean it's not fun. With plenty of new areas to explore, some cool new challenges and a bunch of much-needed fixes, Skate 2 is a fantastic follow-up to an already stellar skateboarding game. Casual gamers may find the game's learning curve too much for them, but hardcore fans will eat this game up! Rating: 78%
Skate 2
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  • B+
When Electronic Arts first announced their intentions of releasing a skateboarding game I was skeptical. While I love skateboarding video games, the idea of having yet another franchise vying for top honors felt unnecessary. But Skate proved to not only be the best skateboarding game of 2007, but also the game that forced Activision's Tony Hawk to take a year off to retool. Here we are a little over a year later and EA has given us Skate's first official sequel (assuming you don't count Skate It for the Wii), and while it's nowhere near as innovative as the first game, it's definitely worth a look for both fans of the series and those who have yet to experience its charm.

Apparently Skate 2 takes place a number of years after the events of the original game, or at least that's what your buddy tells you on your way out of prison. That's right, prison. It seems as though your character has just spend the last few years isolated away from the rest of the skateboarders in the state pen. In that time, a number of major catastrophes have befallen the fictional city, including that pesky earthquake that plagued Skate It on the Wii. On top of the natural disasters, an extremely wealthy businessman has rebuilt much of the city, added a lot of skateboarding deterrents and upped the police presence to an all time high. And that's not all, in the past few years San Vanelona has had a name change, to New San Vanelona (or New San Van if you want to be a cool kid).

Skate 2 (Xbox 360)

For a normal person all of these changes would spell certain death to a skateboarding career, but not so for our hero. Instead of being down and depressed, the main character decides to fight the power and take back New San Van for the skateboarders. And hey, if you get your face plastered on to a few skateboarding magazines along the way what's the harm? Beyond the interesting set-up, Skate 2's story proves to be largely unchanged from the first game. Most of the time you aren't really worried about fighting the man or taking back the power, instead you would rather show off your moves, win a few races and become the best skater you can be.

Veterans of the first Skate will feel right at home in New San Van, and for good reason. While this game certainly adds a lot of new (and much-needed) elements, at its heart this is the same game we saw 16 months ago. Electronic Arts has wisely decided to keep the game's unique control scheme, giving wannabe skateboarders a chance to perform tricks using the two analog sticks. This was certainly the biggest selling point of the first game and one of the main things that set it apart from the competition. If you are one of those people who fell in love with the first game and played it to death, then you'll be tricking off of everything in sight within the first few seconds of the game.

But don't let me convince you that Skate 2 is a pick-up and play sort of game, because there's definitely a steep learning curve for those who are new to the series. While it's true that you can pull off basic moves with great ease, it's going to take quite awhile before you start to warm up to all of the intricacies involved with the controls. What's more, the game is often punishing for the same of being punishing. While other skateboarding games will cut you a little slack if you don't land just perfect, Skate 2 is a stickler for perfection. The mere bump against a curb will send you flying off of your skateboard, which can be really annoying when you're trying to complete challenges and finish races. Still, if you give the game some time you will find yourself overcoming some of the game's imperfections, but I have a hunch that casual skateboarding fans are going to give up long before they discover why Skate 2 is so much fun.

Skate 2 (Xbox 360)

One of my biggest complaints about the first game was how imprecise the trick stick (the right analog stick) was. While it's easy to pull off simple tricks, many of the more difficult tricks were a little too similar. The difference between one trick and another may be nothing more than moving your analog stick in a slightly larger circle. When you are skating around for fun this wasn't a concern, but the moment the game starts to ask you to link difficult combos you would find yourself fighting the controls more than anything. Thankfully EA has gone back and improved the trick controls, making the analog stick a little more precise. Still, as much progress as the developers have made, I still get the feeling that the controls aren't nearly as perfect as they should be. At this point I have to wonder if maybe the problem lies with the Xbox 360's analog sticks, but whatever the problem is you'll run into many of the same control problems you found in the first game. There are less problems this time, no doubt about it, but you'll definitely run into a few frustrating control situations.

The good news is that one of my biggest concerns has been address ... kind of. The thing I hated about the first game was how you were always stuck to your skateboard, no matter what you were doing. This made climbing stairs or getting simply getting around the city extremely difficult. In Skate 2 you aren't locked to your skateboard, you can get off and walk at just about any time. There's just one problem, on-foot controls are abysmal. Who would have thought that controlling a character from a third-person point of view would be this difficult? For one thing you can't walk backwards, instead you will have to push left or right and watch your character turn all the way around just so you can keep them walking forward. What's more, you can't actually change the camera angle, which sometimes makes seeing where you're going more frustrating than it should be. And why is it my character can't jump? This seems like such a simple thing, yet the Tony Hawk series has been doing it for years.

Thankfully Electronic Arts does give gamers an incentive to get off of their skateboards and walk around. In an interesting move, your character has the ability to manipulate certain parts of the world to create a more exciting skate environment. Now you can push and pull objects around, rotate them and position them in just the right spot so that you can pull off that wicked awesome combo. Granted, this is yet another thing that the Tony Hawk series has been doing for awhile, but it's definitely a welcome addition in this real realistic skateboarding franchise.
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