Skate 2 Review - February 4

You don’t have to be a pilot to fly in the RAF. You don’t have to be a chef to make great food (so says Delia Smith), and you sure as hell don’t have to be a skater to enjoy Skate 2. Required only are opposable thumbs and an attitude that doesn’t waver after your fellow’s 50th tumble down a stair set.

Black Box’s original Skate, when compared to the steady stream of yearly-update dross coming from the Tony Hawk camp, was nothing short of liberating. By mapping tricks to the right thumbstick rather than face buttons the game was afforded a feeling closer to actually skating that the dated, detached, and arcade feedback on offer in Pro Skaters 1 through 9. So accomplished was the control scheme, so satisfyingly close to the actual sport, a sequel, while inevitable, could never do anything more than offer more tricks, more levels and more...haircuts. And that’s exactly what we have in Skate 2.Now with added Mohawk.

Gamers' impressions of the demo, released at the beginning of the month, were disappointing to say the least. Though, this wasn’t because EA were fiddling with the formula, no siree - no mechanical bulls, Steve-O’s or rubbish parkour bits here, folks - but because the demo timer was just too short. If this proved anything, it’s that people – anyone, everyone – loved to Skate.

Everything about Skate 2 looks fantastic.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve never picked up a board in your life; when a perfect union of challenging goals and authentic feedback combine, who doesn’t want to suspend disbelief and play skater for a day. Never has there been a sports game so focused on achieving the core feeling of the sport. Maddens close, FIFA’s getting closer, but Skate’s there right now.

Every Ollie, every bail, feels infinitely more realistic thanks to minor tweaks to Skate’s already accomplished engine. Like last time, the fun lies in striving to land that killer trick, line, gap or grab, and the payoff’s in the achievement. It’s been said before, but a simple grind down a stair set, one you’ve spent ages mastering (because, after all, skating is a methodical processs) is infinitely more rewarding than a Tony Hawk combo that ranks in the millions.

There's a new dynamism to a lot of the game's old features.

So, after being thrown in the slammer following the original game, what’s become of your character? Well, you’re now somewhat of a mythical figure in the fictional San Vanelona skating community, every meeting with a fellow skater accompanied with a ‘no way, they let you out?’ and ‘chee, I thought you’d be taller...’ . To boot, your buddies have been forced underground by the way-too-square Mongo Corporation – a company whose priority it seems is to stop teenagers from grinding curbs rather than to do any actual financial work, but we’re willing to let that slide for the sake of story.

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EA Black Box