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Old 11-14-2009, 11:01 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Skate 2

I grew up with Tony Hawk Pro Skater. If I learned anything, it was that all good things came to an end, particularly with the release of Tony Hawk's Project 8 in 2006.
Well, apparently Electronic Arts notices, and the next year released the skating simulator known as Skate.

Now, Skate was a good game, but Skate 2 was EA's first chance to show us how they could grow the franchise.


Graphics
Now, there are a few amazing graphic updates from Skate. First of all, they added brown tones as opposed to the blue tones of Skate, which adds more of the retro feel that charms the player to play along with the story. The game looks smoother, brighter, and the environments feel alive with traffic sounds textures pumped with personality.

This is for most of the game. Occasionally you get into a not-so-worked on area, and the trees start to look like paper mache that came out of an elementary school.

The characters have realistic movements, but most of the pros' eyes are sluggish, at best. It seems like every time Mike Carroll shows up on screen, he had taken a shot of morphine minutes prior. This can be vaguely annoying, but never distracting.


Sound
I gave this game's sound an A+ because it has very engaging voice acting. Even though there's barely a storyline, the realistic nature of the script makes it fun nevertheless. You'll have a good time listening to Reda's (the guy who's constantly filming you) smart comments every time you win, bail, get hit by a car, etc.

The people in this game have a laid back sense of humor, the kind you expect in the skating life. I favor this opposed to Tony Hawk's random situation generator that begs for someone to laugh.



Replay Value
Nowadays, replay value means online play for new challenges and showing off. In Skate 2, you can play online, but it's a wasteland. Unless you personally know a buddy who has the game as well, then you won't have a good time online. Even then, you'll both play for fifteen minutes before booting up your favorite first-person shooter.

If not online, you can start a new character, but you'll be remembering every situation, and it won't change. The only thing that would make it a different experience would be changing your name, and even then, how long can having male anatomy as your alter ego keep you entertained?

You play this once, you're good to go.



Challenge
This game can get very difficult, and not exactly for the right reasons.

There are those objectives that have you riveted that you just can't reach until you nail that backflip or whatnot. Those are far and few between, which is unfortunate.

Many times you'll find yourself following some pro to some point or another, and you have to stay within a certain distance, even if they fall (which they do, a lot), and it can be tedious in long distances. You'll also be racing, and just when you think you nailed a slope perfectly and now you're zooming at incredible rates of speed, no-name over here will just barely passing you, as if you weren't trying.

Some challenges are fun, but many leave you angry.


Other Notes
This game is fun. It's not perfect, but you will gain a lot of satisfaction from it. There are just a few more things to address.

You can get off your board and move things, but the walking camera is a huge pain. Moving stuff is easy, and often allows you to be more creative with how you complete objectives. Even then, the position for those items is spoon fed to you.

Crashing is fun. You will find yourself at a point when you're done progressing the main storyline for the night, and you'll just transport to the top of a really nice ramp, launch off, and bail. You can get in-game cash for your nice bails, which is a reward I can handle.

Travelling is easy. If you want to progress to different objectives, you can transport to them instead of skating the whole way. This made me very happy. You can also transport to different important spots you've discovered.

Customization is meh. You can have the best clothes in the game, but your skater still looks like a pretentious tool. Your best bet is to through some shades on him and call it good.

All in all, rent it. Then buy it if you feel like the game is casual enough to just pop in at any time.
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