The first time I popped open my copy of Skate 2, I knew I was in for a different kind of skating game. Not only are you able to get a crash course in boarding trickery at the local skate park, but you can also roam free around the city of New San Vanelona — jumping curbs, popping ollies, accepting challenges and running from the police Burnout Paradise style. I later found that Skate 2 kept me entertained, but at times it would make me oh-so-frustrated.
Skate 2 starts with you getting released from prison. Your friend Al picks you up and immediately takes you to Slappy's skate park to reclaim your place at the top of the skateboarding food chain. If you played the first installment of Skate (I didn't), you'll find that your city has been taken over and "rebuilt" by a mega-corporation and all your old favorite skating spots have been deemed useless. Plus, the police take skateboarding seriously and if you're caught skating on public property, you might get pinched if you aren't quick.
There are many things I liked about Skate 2, and some things that had me cursing the skating gods. To see what I mean,
In Skate 2's career mode, you are climbing your way back to being the best skater in San Vanelona and reclaiming the city for your comrades. Doing so involves taking on different challenges from other skaters, racking up high scoring tricks, and participating in magazine photo shoots. All of this is easy peasy if you get the moves down. And that's a big if.
So when I tell you that learning the tricks in the game can be frustrating, it's only because I was sloppy at my timing or my control combos. It's funny cause I've seen kids around my old neighborhood doing these exact tricks, so I feel like it should be easy, but it's not. Just like in real life, if you aren't popping your board at the right second, you fail. You either land (hard) on your rear, or you just simply jump off your deck. But once you get it, it's really, really fun. Plus, there's a cool feature in Skate 2 that allows you to mark the beginning of your trick so that if you fail (which will probably be often), you can go back to that spot and try, try again.
Exploring the city is awesome since almost anything you see is "skateable", and you can engage in different challenges along the way to increase your score. You are also super strong (must have been all those gym hours in the Big House) and can move almost any object with ease to make your own little skating heaven anywhere you find a spot. But watch out for the police — those dudes are everywhere. Overall, Skate 2 is entertaining, engaging, and addictive. Even at my most frustrated times, I just wanted to keep going so that I could learn just one more trick. Although I could do without the citizens of San Vanelona getting in my way when I'm trying to race (Hello? I'm trying to race here), but I suppose that is how it would be if I were a real life skating bad ass, which will probably never happen.
Skate 2 is available today on your XBox 360 and Playstation 3 consoles.