Friday, 6 February 2009

Skate 2 - 360/PlayStation 3

Before the original Skate was released, the skateboarding market was dominated by the Tony Hawk series - a franchise that had been looking tired and past its best.
So when Skate arrived in 2007, it was a breath of fresh air. It did away with Hawk’s overblown stunts and instead focused on a realistic take on skateboarding, a move which proved to be a stroke of genius. Now EA are back with the sequel, and it’s a game which builds upon the original’s success and cements its place as the definitive skateboarding simulation.
    The control system remains as intuitive as it was before, with player direction mapped to the left stick, while the right stick is utilised to execute stunts. While this might seem restrictive, flicking the right stick in different directions enables the player to pull of flicks and tricks with ease. The shoulder buttons allow the player to execute mid-air grabs, while the controller’s face buttons allow the player to push off from a standing position.
    When a game relies on movement and balance, it’s vital the physics engine is spot on, and as you would expect, Skate 2’s movement is precise allowing the player to skate and pull off a variety of tricks with ease. Just dropping the player in the middle of a skate park and allowing them to experiment with moves would be fine, but the team at EA have given the player the vast city of New San Vanelona to explore. As you would imagine, the city is crammed full of ramps, jumps, ledges and interesting architecture for you to interact with.
    Virtual skaters can also now hop off their board, making it easier than before to navigate the city's stairs and slopes. Find a favourite place, and you can set a marker point, which you can go back to as often as you like – ideal for nailing down the ultimate stunt. There's even an element of customisation available, with the player able to move objects such as ramps on the fly.

    In the original game frustration often crept in when trying to nail a specific trick in order to progress through the game. However, this time around, EA have given the player a bit more freedom, allowing them to go about the challenges at their own pace.
    As you explore your surroundings, you’ll find lots of interesting challenges to undertake, which will test your skills and dexterity. Completing these earns the player cash, which can be spend on new clothes, accessories and boards.
    The online aspect of Skate 2 also shines and adds another dimension to an already fantastic game. Hooking up with your friends and messing around together in this  well crafted virtual world is a blast.
    Visually, Skate 2 can look impressive. The city is huge and players will have fun exploring the areas looking for the perfect place to hang out. That said, character models look a little rough around the edges - although as the camera angle is set close to the ground, it’s not something that will spoil your enjoyment of the game.
    Overall, Skate 2 is a game that will appeal to a broad range of gamers. Skaters will enjoy it for the technical aspect and attention to detail, while those who can’t tell a Nose Stall from a Pop Shuvit will get enjoyment out of the game’s free-roaming gameplay, graphical effects and intuitive controls.

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