Skate 2 - Cheat Happens Game Review
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Skate 2
Playstation 3, XBox 360

Reviewed on: XBox 360

Developer:
EA Black Box
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Rated: "T" for Teen



CHEATfactor Game Review
by Joe Sinicki

   
   
   
Audio/Visual: 6
Gameplay: 5
Lasting Appeal: 5
Overall: 6
   
CHEATfactor: 6
   
     
On paper, Skate 2 could be the perfect sequel. It combines what made the original game so successful with a slew of new additions and features that create a new and unique experience. In reality, EA Black Box’s skateboarding sequel is in fact just as enjoyable as the original, but many of the new additions seem to feel rushed and while they have their place – they don’t live up to their full potential.

As Skate 2 begins, you’ll find that San Vanelona, the fictional city serving as the setting for both Skate games has been largely destroyed by some sort of natural disaster – leaving the city almost unrecognizable.  Going this route gave the developers freedom to continue the story from the first game, yet sculpt a completely new world for gamers to play in.

Through the games story you’ll find that the Mongocorp, a gigantic corporation that’s not too friendly to skateboarders is responsible for the city’s complete overhaul and redesign. You have to wonder though, if the Monogocorp is so anti-skateboarding, then why seemingly design the city with as many ramps, rails and pipes as possible? Sure, they’ve placed devices on these objects to stop skaters from using them, but it just seems odd.

Narrative wise, you’ll be guiding your customized skater (thanks to an incredibly robust create-a-player option) through San Vanelona in an attempt to rebuild your career and take down the Monogocorp, reclaiming the city for skaters in the process. You’ll take part in trick competitions, time trials and even go head to head with pro-skaters. The gameplay missions don’t do much to move the story along aside from a few moments but they vary enough to keep you satisfied.

"This control scheme is simulation heavy, and is incredibly customizable..."

 
   

When the original Skate launched in 2007, it was heralded for its unique momentum based control scheme which returns in the sequel. Most of your character movement is mapped directly to the left thumbstick, though you’ll perform certain motions like pushing off with the face buttons. Actual board movement is controlled with simple flicks and tilts of the right thumbstick, similar to EA’s NHL series.  Tilt the stick downward to crouch, and then flick it up quickly to perform a jump (tilting it further down leads to a higher jump). This control scheme is simulation heavy, and is incredibly customizable, based on your speed, starting point and just when and how much you use the right thumbstick. The only downfall of this system is that most tricks are performed with similar movements and quite frequently you’ll make the movement for one trick, but you’ll perform another one entirely, leading you to have to retry the mission.

Most of your challenges are scattered throughout the surprisingly large San Vanelona. You have the option to either warp to these challenges directly or taking your time to explore the city and skate to them manually. This approach opens up the world of Skate 2 to multiple types of gamers – those interested mostly in completing the narrative and unlocking everything will find it useful to not have to take the time to go from one end of the city to another merely to get to your next mission, while others will find the open world structure incredibly rewarding to explore.

Undoubtedly, Skate 2’s biggest and most needed change is also it’s simplest. Unlike the original Skate, where you were seemingly glued to your board, Skate 2 gives players the freedom to explore San Vanelona by foot. Never have simple everyday tasks like walking down a street or running up a flight of stairs felt so refreshing. The ability to walk also opens up the game’s world immensely. You’re free to explore the city, and find hidden areas to skate, feeling much less restricted in the process, but it isn’t perfect. Walking though certain areas feels clunky and you’re unable to turn quickly, let alone walk backwards, making certain spots frustratingly tricky to pass.

The ability to walk goes hand-in-hand with Skate 2’s other major addition. Most objects in San Vanelona can be freely pushed around and positioned to a player’s liking. Though this new gameplay mechanic gives you the freedom to approach most missions from various angles, it’s quite limited as you’re only able to grab objects at certain locations, meaning you can only push and pull them to certain spots. There’s also no way to keep objects stable (even heavy objects like dumpsters and barricades seem to move around with the slightest touch). Limitations aside, the ability to change the landscape of San Vanelona changes the feeling and experience of Skate 2 dramatically.

"Skateboarding isn’t a crime, but the AI in Skate 2 ought to be."

 
   

Skateboarding isn’t a crime, but the AI in Skate 2 ought to be. While moving around San Vanelona on your own is quite simple – working with multiple computer controlled opponents is another story. The other skaters seem to go about their business as if you or the other AI skaters aren’t even around. You’ll frequently experience collisions or have to wait for other skaters to clear the way before you can start your tricks.  Sadly, the civilian AI is no better, as you’re sure to get frustrated attempting to get them (and their oddly behaving litter) out of the way and in the right spot to perform a trick.

These issues aren’t as prevalent online – mostly because most human players won’t be complete morons. Skate 2’s online suite features a multitude of options and modes including races, trick competitions and a masochistically enjoyable mode that challenges players to injure themselves the most, but none compare to Skate 2’s Co-Op gameplay. Similar to Burnout Paradise, Co-Op requires players to work together to achieve their goals. Some, like combining scores in a certain area are rather easy, while others, like performing the same trick simultaneously can be frustratingly difficult.

Skate 2 takes the simulation heavy formula set forth in the original and tweaks it in all the right places to make an enjoyable title, but somehow falters with the new additions it attempts to make. Fans of the original Skate will love the sequel, while those yet to try the franchise may be pleasantly surprised by Skate 2’s deceptively deep, yet fun gameplay style.  

 

CHEATfactor

CHEATS USED: Retro Pack Unlock, Downloadable Content Pack

As of this writing, not many cheats were available for Skate 2, quite the disappointment when you take into consideration the sheer amount of cheats available for the original. The few cheats that are available, packs of clothes and boards from the original Skate and a few other retro offerings, are aesthetic and don’t add much to the game especially when you take into account that it  features a very robust creation engine.

That’s not to say it’s impossible to unlock everything without playing Skate 2 in its entirety – you just have to pay for it; right from launch, players will be able to access all of Skate 2’s boards, clothing and skaters via downloadable content. Yes, it’s come to this, rather than include a simple code, EA (big surprise huh?) is deciding to charge gamers. The genius of having downloadable content is to add to the experience already in the game, not put up a barrier to what is already included. Was the $60 price tag not enough? This may seem like a rant but it’s exactly the kind of business move that makes the game industry look bad – if I could,  I would give Skate 2 a negative Cheat Factor, a shame when the game itself is quite enjoyable.

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