Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: EA Black Box
Before we proceed, there’s a short test.
1. When pushing mongo, you’re…
A. keeping your back foot on the board, while using your front foot to gain momentum.
B. shoving that fat kid out of your line.
C. “taking it to the limit!”
D. obviously new to skateboarding.
2. Which trick is “sick”?
A. 360 flip to crooked grind
B. quadruple back flip
C. Triple heelflip to manual to 50-50 to manual to 180 varial flip to manual to benihana
D. Coffin down a really steep hill.
3. The best skateboarding video game you’ve played is…
A. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1-3
C. Tony Hawk’s any other trash
Ok now, let’s see how you did.
For question 1, if you answered A or D, you’re right! Continue reading! If you got the answer wrong, proceed directly to Review B. Seriously. The rest of this isn’t for you.
Question 2 was to test your knowledge of skateboarding and the laws of physics. If you answered A, you’re right! That’s sick! The other answers are wrong for the following reasons: physics, too THPS, and old school was never cool let alone “sick”. If you got it right, continue, otherwise proceed to Review B.
Finally, question 3. If you answered A or B, I’ll take it. Continue to Review A. If you answered C, just stop reading this, considering you can read to begin with, and go back to playing terrible games. If you answered D, stop reading this and go buy the game already. I mean, it’s basically the same game as the first one, but with new tricks, new places to skate, and more stuff to do online. Or read Review A, I guess.
Ok, skaters, Skate lovers, or people with good taste in gaming, let’s get down to business. If you played this game’s predecessor, Skate, you should already know what you’re getting into. They left things pretty much “as is” in the controls department, but added a good deal of tricks to your repertoire. Most of the additions are rather “old school”, like fast plants and hippy jumps, but they’re by no means the offensive fantasies conjured up by the people at Neversoft. The character creator seems a little weaker than the first one, or maybe it was just that I couldn’t for the life of me make a skater that resembled me in the slightest. There are still tons of wardrobe and deck options though, and this is one of the few times when product placement actually makes sense. The city is a bit different than last time. It’s tied (loosely) to the thin veneer of story behind the game. Thankfully, it doesn’t take much of a story to make this game what it is. The voice acting is good with a lot of big (small) names that real skaters will know in a flash. As with the first game, however, you’ll likely want to jam your controller into Reda the cameraman’s mouth after the eleventy millionth time you’ve heard every phrase (read, 5 hours into the game). Not only do they sound good, the character models look great with smooth and realistic animations. Outside of the career mode, you can go online and challenge friends to a game of S.K.A.T.E., go for the biggest score in the spot challenge, kick it in freeskate or hit up the new Hall of Meat mode where you basically try to do as much damage to your body as possible. Oh, did I mention that you can get off your board now? You can! But you’ll never want to…trust me. While finally being able to get to the top of that 12 stair without some grand feat of acrobatics is great, the off-board controls are so wonky that you’d likely rather find some other spot than deal with moving like a seizing C-3PO.
So, the real question: is this game worth buying? One more quiz. Do you skate? Do you like skateboarding? Did you like Skate II’s predecessor? Do you think real life physics is cool? If you answered yes to any of these questions, buy it. Frankly, the intro alone makes the game a solid buy in my opinion. Maybe I’m just getting nostalgic for the smell of fresh grip tape or the feeling of landing that first kickflip, but Skate II is the closest thing to actually skateboarding that I’ve experienced (and boy it’s nice without the hospital bills!).
So let’s say you’re new to skateboarding, skateboarding games, or good taste. Don’t worry, there’s still hope for you, just maybe not here. Skate II takes a more “real” approach to skateboarding that some people find confusing or difficult to grasp. Instead of the familiar button mashing formula followed by some games, all moves are performed by flicking the right analog stick with some button or trigger holding to do the various tricks. Should I slow down? Maybe you should just rent it… yeah…. rent it first maybe.