What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the game is rated "Teen" for mild violence (graphic spills on skateboards), sexual comments including one toward's women ("I got to tie my shoes while I look up this girl's dress"), interaction which characters who talk about getting drunk, and includes some potentially offensive language. Song lyrics contain dialogue that can be risque (but no F-word). While one mode rewards brutal falls, no blood is shown (unlike decade-old skateboarding games, such as the Tony Hawk series.) Skaters can mow down pedestrians and cars.
What's it about?
A good video game sequel doesn't mess with the original formula much yet introduces a number of new features and improvements over its predecessor. This is precisely what Electronic Arts has done with SKATE 2, a follow-up to 2007's stellar skateboarding game. Available now for the Xbox 360 and Sony PlayStation 3, Skate 2 begins with an entertaining video introduction (with real actors) that shows your character just being released from prison. Continuing where the first game left off, the authorities of San Vanelona (a fictitious city that borrows from San Francisco, Vancouver, and Barcelona) make skateboarding a crime after many skaters -- including you -- turned their once-beautiful metropolis into an urban playground. Things are quite different five years later in New San Vanelona, but you're ready to get back on the board and hit the streets.
The single-player games boil down to the objective-based Career mode and the open-ended Freeskate option, with the latter dispensing with the story altogether. In the Career mode, players must first change their appearance with plastic surgery, then adopt new hair styles and tattoos (to remain undetected), and then select from real skate brands for clothing and boards. Similar to the first Skate, after you get acquainted with the controls and your environment, it's time to impress the photographers working for Thrasher Magazine and The Skateboard Mag with your skateboarding moves, to build up your name and notoriety.
Is it any good?
While the controls aren't as easy to pick up as, say, the old Tony Hawk games, once you get over the learning curve you'll find this game gives you a lot more control and options. Plus, gamers who played the original Skate won't have any issues with this sequel -- in fact, the controls feel less stiff and more natural. On a related note, Skate 2 boasts more than twice the number of moves offered in the first game and also lets players rack up points by pulling off Ollies, Nollies, handplants, kickflips, grabs, and grinds, and then stringing them together for bonus points. For the first time in the series, gamers can move in-world objects around, to make room for stunts or to create a cooler one with well-placed ramps, benches, and rails. You can even grab hold of a car's bumper and hang on for a ride.
Other additions to this sequel include a revamped editor to record your performance (and upload it for others to see), the questionable Thrasher Hall of Meat mode (that compensates you for brutal wipeouts), and more online skating options including the ability to seamlessly switch between single player and multiplayer skate sessions (co-op or competitive). But as with its predecessor, gamers can accept various challenges strewn throughout New San Vanelona, earn sponsorship and contest money, and meet up with other pros in the game world. Quite simply, if you liked Skate you'll love Skate 2.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the game's edginess. Does it help the gameplay and add to the overall urban experience or could it be taken out? Perhaps this attitude is part of the skateboarding culture and therefore makes sense in the game and with this storyline (about skateboarders thrown in jail for disrupting the city).