Form feet and legs. Form arms and body.

And I’ll form the head.

Review: skate.2 (Xbox 360)

Posted by rapaleeman on January 30, 2009

Here it is.  The biggest skateboarding game surprise has finally received a sequel.  How is it?

So I’ve had the original game since launch.  I love it.  The Flick-It control scheme, the realistic physics, the ideology behind the game, everything.  How do you improve upon perfection?  You add more shit.  You leave the perfect things alone and you fix the bugs, glitches, and little design flaws.  Unfortunately EA and Black Box only got part of the memo.

Let’s start with the bad.  The 60 frames per second that was promised functions sometimes, but stutters quite a bit.  Noticeable frame rate hits occur (especially downtown or when other skaters are online) that usually eff up your line/trick/overall flow.  With that the graphics are just weird.  They are overly bright and in certain sections of the city get really annoying (as well as the noticeable pop-in).  The city has this surreal feeling that wasn’t present in the original game.  Kinda like how Need For Speed Underground was a little off, so is this in terms of feel.  Plus there are some pretty low-resolution textures in places that should be.

Next Black Box decided to slow down the skaters and tweak the physics.  This means you need to hold a trick longer on the stick, move faster yourself, and overall change up your game.  Not a hard thing to get used to, but it seems to me they just crammed as much shit into the control scheme as they could.  I still prefer this to the archaic press “X” to kickflip, but there will hopefully be a compromise for the next game.  Pressing X or A to one-foot air tricks, is a little weird and very awkward.

Next is the Career mode.  In order to make things easier they made the film challenges mostly optional and you only really have to play the game of s.k.a.t.e. twice in the career.  First the actual career challenges.  They come in two varieties.  Easy as hell or hard as shit.  No in between.  The game of s.k.a.t.e. against Eric Koston and Mike Carroll is fucking broken and some of the other challenges require such specific timing that the control scheme is not made for that it is just unfair at times (looking at you basketball court).

To make things worse, the descriptions of the challenges and what to do next is so cryptic that I didn’t realize I had to find pools and drain them in order to continue the Thrasher magazine goals, or even understand how to get sponsors.  It just happens.  Plus some of the other challenges have you doing tricks in places that are not set up for them.  I understand the idea is make you feel like a real skater and deal with what you got, but when you have to land in a specific spot just to make an ollie and there is a ledge there, things can get really frustrating.

Finally, my last thing in this ongoing bitchfest (yes the good points are coming and there are plenty) is the city.  It is supposed to be a greatest hits of sorts from the first game, but overall it sucks.  The city feels like a corridor shooter in a city with a fake sky.  Like Doom or Duke Nukem.  There just are not a lot of open areas as before (probably to keep the frame rate up).

This leads to my first in the long list of good points, the skate parks.  Where the city itself really does suck, the skate parks are fucking amazing.  The Mega Compound has been revamped and is just perfect.  The Plan B warehouse has done some steroids and became the amazing Training Facility (with your board sponsors flags all over the place which is a nice touch).  Goofy Versus Regular (GVR) is a nice addition and sweet little area.  My new favorite is the Monster Clubhouse.  Despite the obvious branding (but their energy drinks rock so it is ok) the area is like an outdoor arena that is setup for competition (like the Dew Cup).  It has just enough crazy halfpipes added in the realism that it makes amazing.  The only place that is a letdown is the San Van Arena.  Gone is the X-Games of the past (which was awesome) and in is a weird amalgam of the mega ramp and a roller coaster.  Can’t describe it any other way.

Next is the ability to walk.  Yes it looks like shit and is a little awkward but thank you EA and Black Box.  Now I can walk up the effin stairs.  With this comes ability to use the force to retrieve the board which I am not that upset with as a lot of others are.  I think it looks cool.

Here is a good place to talk about the controls.  Once you get accustomed to the timing, the controls work quite well.  This is not a button masher or a game you can just flail away at the stick and hope for happiness.  In order to pull off good looking one foot/no foot grabs you need to plan out your runs.  Most require a combination of the right stick and shoulder buttons along with the A, X, or buttons after you have flicked the right stick to ollie.  Got that?  Check the trick book.  It is more intuitive than you may believe and you will be doing my favorite, Airwalks, in no time.  You can also hippie jump, caveman, foot plant,  no Comply, boneless, and use the grab the world button to do other tricks.

WTF?  Grab the world?  Yeah the RB button is now the grab the world button.  You can skitch cars with it, invert on QPs, and even move stuff.  Once off the board you can move realistic things (picnic tables, rails, ramps, those sorts of things) to set up new lines and even set up your own little Own the Spot challenge.  Once done you can then upload that shit online and challenge your friends.

Had enough?  Need more? Ok.

Once you finish the admittedly short and really frustrating career mode you can venture online.  The normal freeskate is back as well as online own the spots, but now you have freeskate activities.  Like Burnout Paradise (speaking of which, why the fuck are there Paradise City billboards all over this game?) you can initiate a ton of events wherever and whenever you want.  Some are easy fun, others a pain in the ass as well (having 6 people do one grind at the same time is fun.  Yeah right). 

Let us not forget the death races (which are a lot easier in the career mode this time around) or the new Hall of Meat challenges.  The HoM challenges are kinda annoying since they pop up EVERY time you bail.

Oh and the create-a-skater doesn’t suck anymore.  You can be a chick for one and the hair actually looks like hair.  Plus the hats look good (headphone options and different ways to wear them FTW) as well as the way everything just fits on the skater.  No longer do you feel like a set of clothes with a head. 

This also translates to the fact that the skater now takes battle damage as you wreck yourself on spots.  Same with the clothes and the board.  This along with the awesome new bails (which look pretty convincing for the most part) and the excellent animation system make for a pretty game to use the replay system with.

For that you get 90 seconds total.  Infinite clips that add up to 90 seconds.  Replay options are stinted (Filmer Pack is available, I got it and will touch on it next week afte rI mess with it over the weekend)  but for the most part editing is easy and checking out replays of your conquests and failures is a definite win.

So what is the final verdict.  Well if you read the cons they were all pretty big.  With that said the good definitely outweighs the bad here.  I am more pissed off that the little bugs were not fixed than I am about anything else, but since the skate parks are so great and the new tricks are actually awesome (though not necessary) I gotta give this a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.  Not to mention my new obsession in the replay mechanic and I can see myself playing this game until skate.3 comes out.  So while this may be just skate. 1.5, it is a definite must buy for any skate fan.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

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