FutureFive New Zealand - Consumer technology news & reviews from the future
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Sun, 1st Mar 2009
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Early on as a child, I quickly figured out that concrete is very hard. This makes it that much more amazing to see someone on ESPN ripping off a ramp, pulling a reverse 360 while grabbing the nose of the board, landing on a rail with a back-end manual, and then, seconds later, kick-flipping off it to the roars of the crowd. They're just nuts.

To experience a small dose of their lives, EA has produced Skate 2, which is in direct competition to the Tony Hawk Pro Skater series that has dominated skateboarding video games since ‘99. Well, that was until 2007, when the original Skate kicked Tony Hawk's Proving Ground by a ratio of almost 2 to 1 in the sales chart. Obviously, Tony Hawk didn't take it well and has gone back to the drawing board, with nothing planned for 2009.

The big difference between the two franchises is the dual analogue sticks that sculpt your tricks. Where in Tony Hawk games you would simply press the X button to do an ollie, here you must move the right analogue stick down to the bottom, then flick it up to the top.

Flip tricks are formed by combinations of right-analogue-stick movements to various sides. The left analogue controls spins, back-flips and front-flips. The face buttons are for holds and speed.

Yes, it sounds daunting, and yes, to begin with you'll be all over the show, landing mainly on your teeth or groin. But after a few hours, it will feel very natural and you'll never want to go back.

Just cruising around town is fantastic. You won't get a better skateboarding game than this. Unfortunately, the career mode, which unlocks most of the content in the game, isn't quite as good.

Basically, you meet other skaters and complete the objectives they give you. Most are trick-specific missions, and it can be quite tedious trying to hit the exact movement when the very slightest degree change of the analogue stick can create another trick, meaning you'll fail. The game can grind you down till you're in tears. But it's a fine line between pleasure and pain, and at times it definitely feels like a pain to play the career mode.

Like most sequels in any genre, there are more tricks, more events, more of everything, and Skate 2 doesn't disappoint. New to the series is the ability to get off your board and run up the stairs, which may not seem like a big deal, but it saves a lot of time compared to skating around to the same point. While you're off your board, you can also move objects to create your own spots for tricks. Very cool!

My favourite addition, though, is the ability to hitch a ride on the back of vehicles, Marty McFly-style. Man, I loved Back to the Future.

Anyway, I digress... The default camera angle, which is very low to the ground, can hinder the new hill races, so make sure you play around with the camera setting to find out what's best for you.

Audio is a mixed bag, with the skating sounds making you feel as if you're actually on the board, but the music isn't as good as Skate's. The graphics have experienced a minor upgrade, but it's nothing to write home about. If you can get over the fact that you'll be throwing the controller numerous times trying to pull off trick-specific missions, then this game is a good purchase.