Evolution is a slow process. When EA released the original Skate back in 2007, the franchise became an overnight success, gaining plaudits from every corner of the gaming community. More importantly, it kick-started a genre that was in dire need of new direction, brushing aside the archaic button-mashing formula of the Tony Hawk series and propelling the skating world into the next-generation with one well-executed flick of the right stick. With the release of Skate 2, developers Black Box have once again shown a keen eye for improvement as they continue to evolve their franchise and, more importantly, the genre as a whole.
Those that played Skate will definitely know what to expect here. The innovative control system is back, albeit more accurate and accessible than before. With a greater wealth of tricks, flicks, and grinds to pull off, it’s welcoming to see that EA kept faith in their original blueprint and have started to refine a system that now feels entirely natural. With the game offering a huge challenge for even the most seasoned skating sensation, these changes not only make the title a lot less frustrating and add to the franchise’s playability, it also makes the experience utterly more enjoyable.
After spending time in the slammer, you’ll start the game by rediscovering the skills that got you into jail in the first place. Much has changed in the five years that have passed since the first game, with New San Vanelona now run by the oppressive Mongocorp, a company whose severe private property restrictions and tight-fisted security systems damaged the skating scene to near extinction. Luckily, Black Box has ensured you can take the revolution straight to these yellow-shirted haters, as you have more control over the mediated city and the objects that lie within it.
One of the biggest gripes gamers had with the first title was just how hard manoeuvring your skater through San Van was. Granted, rolling down steep hills and across skate parks was easy, but getting up steps and into devilish places was a hellish prospect that held the freedom of the series back immensely. Taking note, Black Box has now allowed gamers to get off their board and take a hike, tackling stairs and previously inaccessible areas with near-human efficiency. Regrettably, the system doesn’t always provide you with as much freedom as needed. You can’t always reach areas of interest and you’ll often stutter as you try to get onto ramps and across the city; a disappointment for sure, as being able to make it to those unexplorable areas would have pushed the game into a new and exciting dimension.
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