As with Skate, the biggest potential problem is the difficulty level. Skate 2 has made attempts to remove some of the spikes the original game threw up – there are fewer challenges where you must complete one specific trick followed by another, for example – but this can still be a very demanding game, and one where you’ll have to devote a serious amount of time to understanding the nuances of controls and completing some of the more strenuous challenges. It can be hugely frustrating to think you’ve completed one competitive event only to find that it’s actually a best of three, and there are times where a high-scoring trick from a computer opponent will knock you into second place at the very last minute, causing mucho grinding of teeth and throwing of controllers. All the same, there’s something so compulsive about Skate 2, and so satisfying when you complete one of these trials, that you can never quite bring yourself to give up. Skate 2 is a serious time sink. It will take you hours and hours of play to get the best of it, and if you don’t get violently frustrated from time to time, you’re either a skateboarding genius or a saint.
Still, when you do get it right there’s ample opportunity to show off online. As before, the Skate Reel feature constantly saves the last minute of action for you to playback and edit, and you can post clips online to share with friends. I haven’t had much opportunity to explore the other online options, but if you want to get involved in online trick battles or create a benchmark score for an area and ‘own the spot’, then Skate 2 is right behind you.
Overall, EA Black Box should be congratulated. At several junctures, Skate 2 puts itself at risk of going off message and losing its appeal, but for the most part this is an intelligently handled evolution of the first game that adds to the fun factor without steering the series in the wrong direction. No one enhancement is a killer feature in and of itself, but taken together they make the game that little bit better. And given that Skate was already the best skateboarding game in town, that’s enough to make the sequel practically essential to anyone with an interest in that world.
Skate 2 edges closer to Tony Hawk’s tomfoolery than the original, but thankfully never crosses the line. With a more interesting environment and some enjoyable new features, it takes Skate’s place as the best skateboarding game around.