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7 Reviews

Skate 2

Review: Another session of analogue stick gymnastics

The unique controls, laid-back pace and edgy camera angles of Skate quickly established the new IP as the choice of the skater boy. And to launch in a year where Tony Hawk's was entering its ninth same-old iteration, EA injected some much-needed innovation into what was previously an Activision-owned genre.

With the Hawkster on an extended break then, can Skate 2 capitalise on an impressive entry into the genre with more kick flips, harder right analogue stick gymnastics and significantly less capital letters?

The second game kicks off a few years after the first, with our custom-made protagonist having been banged up for a few years. This allows the old bill enough time to rebuild San Vanelona city into what's supposed to be a rigorously policed, anti-skateboarding fortress - except for some reason it's got more ramps and rails than a disabled toilet.

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Skate 2 adopts the familiar open-world, challenge-based set-up, allowing you to wheel around the streets at your own pace, occasionally hooking up with a fellow student-type for a photo challenge or quick trick event.

This time the opening is considerably less newcomer-friendly than the first, with an unforgiving tutorial, barrage of on-screen information and spot events that feel deliberately toughened up and statistically demanding for non-experts.

New features, such as the ability to stop skating and drag objects and scenery around the skate park, feel totally shoe-horned in to the introduction as well, which doesn't help Skate 2's sluggish opening. But once the totally R.A.D. announcer shuts up you're free to explore the wonderfully intricate San Vanelona. This is when Skate 2's vision becomes clear.

The angry establishment set-up allows for some interesting scenarios. Cops patrol the city's many skate parks and will shove you into the side of a bin if you grind too close to their bumpers. Rails have also been maliciously tagged with anti-grind clamps and the skate park bowls are all filled with water. The spoil sports.

If it wasn't for the hundreds of conveniently placed park benches and, er, halfpipes then, San Vanelona might be a sad place for lonely a skater. But with the help of a few unemployed mates then, it's up to you to help reclaim the city. Don't worry, this isn't Police Academy 4.

Skate's gameplay has always been a challenging experience, just like real world skateboarding. But it's well worth setting aside some time to master the control system. The 'Flickit' analogue stick controls, which have you 'flicking' the stick to ollie and flip, are more tricky to master than Tony Hawk's Arcade-style set-up.

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But it's more rewarding when you get to grips with it. Skate's setup ultimately leads to a more satisfying, realistic-feeling experience - even if you do spend the first hour grinding your face and nuts into concrete.

With a flick of the right stick and some delightfully crunchy sound effects even a simple ollie will bring a smile to your face. And lining up with a rail, building to the right pace with the A button and flipping the board at just the right moment to initiate a grind still feels like an accomplishment.

New to the sequel is the ability to jump off your board and walk around, albeit with sluggish, tank-like precision. Ditching the board is incredibly useful for traversing non-wheel friendly environments such as stairs, grass and steep slopes. The massive turning circle could have been tightened up though.

The Burnout Paradise school of design is also evident in San Vanelona's streets; it does for skating exactly what Paradise City does for crashing cars. The street's furniture feels like it's been put there with your skateboard in mind.

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