I feel I should point something out to you before we get into this review of Skate 2 in any great depth: I don’t skate. I’ve never skated.
There. I’ve said it. Can we move on now?
Perhaps that has something to do with the fact that I have all the stability and agility of an upside-down Weeble. Or maybe it has something to do with the fact that skateboards were introduced to the UK when I was still a kid – and they were looked upon with some disdain by a lot of people. After all, what was wrong with traditional toys, like the hoop and stick or the cardboard box castle?
Anyway, that's enough nostalgia. Fast forward a few years, and skateboarding has become rather more popular. Pro skater Tony Hawk (who, ironically, is older than me) has been the face for Activision’s long-running series of skateboarding games since 1999 and if you wanted to get some skateboarding action on your console, then these games were really your only choice.
Then EA’s Black Box studio came along in 2007 and challenged Activision’s dominance of the skateboard genre with the imaginatively-titled Skate. The game was surprisingly well-received by critics and punters alike, and even managed to outsell the current Tony Hawk title at the time, so it was almost inevitable that we’d see a sequel.
Joe had time to preview Skate 2 last year, and was pleasantly surprised by what he found. So, has EA Black Box tweaked the game to perfection in the intervening months, or will Joe’s illusions be shattered once again?
Story? What’s that all about?
A storyline is not something you’d expect to find in a skating game. After all, skating is all about instant fun, right? Still, EA Black Box bucked the trend in a number of other areas in the original Skate, so why not include one extra buck, just for luck?
Where the original Skate game followed your exploits as you struggled to get yourself noticed as an up-and-coming skater in the city of San Vanelona, things take a rather darker twist in Skate 2. The game starts with you being released from prison for some unknown crime – although it’s probably safe to say that it was skateboard related. During your time in prison, San Vanelona suffered a massive earthquake that has devastated the city, and while you’ve been doing porridge, the city has been completely renewed and renamed New San Vanelona – or New San Van for short.
As well as a complete renewal of the city, New San Van has also had a bit of a security crackdown. Mongocorp, the obligatory evil corporation, has employed hundreds of security guards who roam the streets, making sure that you’re not doing anything that you shouldn’t be doing – and that includes skateboarding.
To further their evil ends, Mongocorp has installed caps onto most of the railings around the city, meaning that your grinding opportunities are limited. Thankfully, though, you meet a few characters as you progress through the game who are able to decap railings or run interference while you bust your radical moves...or whatever.
Still, the story, such as it is, never really reaches the heights of sinister big brotherism to which it aspires, not does it really add much to the game. You’re a skater, you like to skate. What more do you need to know?