The good news is that one of my biggest concerns has been address ... kind of. The thing I hated about the first game was how you were always stuck to your skateboard, no matter what you were doing. This made climbing stairs or getting simply getting around the city extremely difficult. In Skate 2 you aren't locked to your skateboard, you can get off and walk at just about any time. There's just one problem, on-foot controls are abysmal. Who would have thought that controlling a character from a third-person point of view would be this difficult? For one thing you can't walk backwards, instead you will have to push left or right and watch your character turn all the way around just so you can keep them walking forward. What's more, you can't actually change the camera angle, which sometimes makes seeing where you're going more frustrating than it should be. And why is it my character can't jump? This seems like such a simple thing, yet the Tony Hawk series has been doing it for years.
Thankfully Electronic Arts does give gamers an incentive to get off of their skateboards and walk around. In an interesting move, your character has the ability to manipulate certain parts of the world to create a more exciting skate environment. Now you can push and pull objects around, rotate them and position them in just the right spot so that you can pull off that wicked awesome combo. Why are all of my character's movements so clumsy? The Tony Hawk series has been doing on-foot controls for years, so it feels awfully strange to be so limited in my movements when not on a skateboard.
Another change is the fact that this time around you can play as either a man or a woman, though I'm not sure the rest of the New San Van residents know that. Even though I chose to play a woman (a very, very ugly woman with no curves whatsoever), everybody continued to call me "dude," "man," "bro," and "him." Most games record each line both ways, making sure that they have both sexes covered. But that's not how Electronic Arts' Black Box studios work. Apparently in San Vanelona men and women are exactly the same ... which may explain why there are no feminine clothes anywhere in the city.
While this game definitely tries hard to add a lot of new elements to the series, there are a lot of frustrating elements that remain unfixed. Why, for example, has nothing been done to the population of New San Van? Just like the first game, Skate 2's computer-controlled pedestrians are a huge nuisance, often getting in your way just as you're about to finish an amazing combo. There are some parts of the city that are near impossible to trick off of due to the amount of civilians that litter the street. And it's not just the people walking around that jump in your way, it's also all of the terrible drivers located in the city. Doesn't anybody yield for skateboarders anymore? Because the cars drive around randomly, you will discover that completing the various races can be difficult if you are unlucky enough to get stuck behind a traffic jam.
And it's not just the civilians that get in your way; it's also the other skateboarders. For the most part these characters will steer clear of you when you're skating around, but once you get into a competition you'll find that it's a little too easy to accidentally run into these guys. The biggest problem is that merely bumping into somebody will send you flying, and there are too many times when you can't help but bump into somebody else or have them accidentally bump into you. Not only does it take you out of the action for a few seconds, but it can mean the difference between winning and losing, all for something that you have very little control over. I honestly don't know what the perfect solution is, but I can tell you that giving these characters smarter AI would go a long way. At the end of the day these skaters, just like the civilians, don't act like real human beings and it takes you right out of the experience.
Page 2 of 3