Skate 2 brings back the formula popularized by the original .skate (a game that served to defeat the once popular Tony Hawk series in the skateboard game market), and adds some new moves and features, all while focusing on being bigger, better, and more fun. Though it’s geared more towards hardcore fans of skateboarding culture, the learning curve and polish displayed is enough for anyone to give the game a go and have a blast. If you’ve had any experience with the previous entry though, you’ll find the game fitting like a well-worn pair of skate shoes.


Taking place several years after the original .skate, you find your main character being released from prison (explained in another stylish intro credit sequence, reminiscent of the hospital intro from the first game). After getting reacquainted with your buddies, the changes in San Vanelona, and some of the new abilities you have on hand, you’re off to go have some fun and rebuild your reputation as a top skater.



While the plot isn’t much of a plot to begin with, you do have various contacts and motivations for doing what you do. Competing in tournaments and doing missions will unlock more gear for you and give you access to more content in the game. Plus, the game does an amazing job of having you learn as you play, so feats that would have felt impossible at the beginning are second nature towards the end of the game. Even without the various activities, the gameplay is stellar enough that just free roaming for several hours, looking for new runs and high scores seems to be what the game most wants you to do.


The new moves and areas don’t add a significant amount of change from the last game, but it doesn’t need to. Handstands are a nice addition, as are some of the other little tricks, but the main new addition is the ability to get off your board. It’s incredibly helpful in getting over obstacles or walking up a set of stairs. For the most part though, Skate 2 simply focuses on being bigger and better than its predecessor, but anyone who wants to go back to the original can still do so without feeling too spoiled by the new features here.



The online mode is also very well done, with a bevy of fun game modes (including a local mode that allows players to take turns going for a high score). My favorite mode was reminiscent of Burnout: Paradise in having the various players online try to perform a specific trick or complete and objective during a time limit. It led to some hectic moments trying to finish the task, and it was a nice change of pace having the godly player you once competed against be on your side in a difficult co-op mission.


The location of San Vanelona is familiar if you’ve played the first game, but has gone through some massive changes. The whole world feels like one great big playground, and while the security and police might put a hamper on your skate activities, they aren’t nearly as menacing as the game would want you to believe. If anything, your biggest problem would be the pedestrians and vehicles wandering around the city and inevitably screwing up a great run. While these are the sort of hazardous things you might expect in real life skateboarding, the AI on display is a bit questionable when it comes to reacting and getting out of your way (or in the case of cars, not running you over and driving away).



While the game is undoubtedly very fun and full of things to do, it might be because of its size that it has such glaring issues in the AI and polish. Too often I’ve had my skater completely bail out of nowhere or ragdoll in a hilarious way because of the buggy physics engine, while one annoying and unfixed exploit even allowed players online to instantly launch themselves into the air for cheap points during online Hall of Meat challenges (where players are supposed to injure themselves for points). In general, it was difficult trying to get the game to do exactly what I wanted to because of the focus on analog controls and the uneven physics. Even worse were the uneven respawns, which would often place me far away from where I needed to be, forcing me to either trek back or restart the objective for the sake of time, but luckily the game did sometimes plop me right where I wanted to be, and I was never so frustrated that I had to stop playing.


Overall, Skate 2 ends up a fun and deep skateboarding game, for new fans and longtime skateboarding aficionados alike. While hardcore skateboarding fans might understand the wealth of references to skateboarding culture and appreciate the realism on display, the quality of the game and sheer amount of activities and fun involved in just nailing a trick should be enticing to anyone who just enjoys a great game.