Skate 2 Updated Hands-On

We get our first details on Skate 2's story, improved video editor, and a handful of new game modes.

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One thing the original Skate proved is that good controls and easy controls aren't necessarily one and the same. The whole concept of controlling your body with one thumbstick and your board's flicking motions with the other was something that felt very alien to a lot of players. But once you got it figured out, it became like second nature--a unique and rewarding challenge that opened itself up to a brand new way of playing skateboarding games. Unlike the first game, Skate 2 will find a mixed audience of "flick it" veterans and neophytes alike. Appealing to both of these groups is one of the biggest challenges faced by the team at EA Black Box as it seeks to avoid overwhelming newcomers while giving grizzled veterans the chance to pick up where they left off.

Achieving this task begins, as it so often does, with the introduction to the story. You're immediately told to get on down to Slappy's skatepark where, along the way, you'll encounter narrow alleyways and parking lots littered with obstacles. These obstacles will test your ability to pop big ollies, crouch under gates, and so on. You'll be able to zoom on through if you know what you're doing, but if not, the game will recognize this and hold your hand as it guides you through basic techniques. This should give experienced players the ability to get right down to learning the new moves, such as handplants and bonelesses, while those new to Skate can start small.

Create your own skate spots as well as romantic picnic locations.
Create your own skate spots as well as romantic picnic locations.

Once there, you're given a hint about what's happened in the five years between Skate and Skate 2. Apparently, your character has been in prison (the details of which are still unknown) and is now seeking to rebuild his reputation among his skeptical peers. It's not so much a matter of proving your skills because your mastery on a board has already been evidenced in the first game, but rather, proving your worth as a member of the skating community. In practical terms, this means you won't have to start from scratch--you'll immediately pick up as a well-known skater doing photography and sponsor challenges from the beginning rather than taking part in minor challenges with the locals.

With your skating abilities already well known throughout the city, you'll be given access to most of the exclusive skate spots right from the beginning rather than having to hold out for the biggest and best jumps at the end. But if hitting up the prime real estate isn't your cup of tea, you can also create your own skate spots. We talked about how you can move certain objects, such as picnic tables and rails, in our last preview, but now, we've been told that you can actually share the fruits of your labor in a new mode called Create a Spot. With Create a Spot, you can organize objects in a certain location, save the layout, and then upload that new spot to share it with friends online. A few of the options you're given include defining the boundaries of your spot and setting a point challenge to beat.

Immortalize your Hall of Meat moves in the revamped video editor.
Immortalize your Hall of Meat moves in the revamped video editor.

Visually, Black Box wants to complement your new abilities with improved bail animations. If you mess up on a grind and you're not going too fast, you'll simply run out of the grind instead of falling to the ground in a limp, lifeless mess. Occasionally, you'll see your skater attempt to brace for impact if he can get his hands out in time. And if you sense a move going awry while airborne, you can simply kick the board away before you land. But if you do wipe out often, you'll notice your skater gradually show more damage over time, such as torn clothing and bruised elbows.

This new ability to kick the board away will become the centerpiece of the new Hall of Meat mode. The first game tracked your damage by popping a skeleton diagram on the screen whenever you'd bite it hard, showing you the various bones you'd bruised, fractured, or broken. This time around, you'll occasionally find yourself invited to take part in a contest to see just how badly you can wreck your body. Typically, you'll fling yourself off a ramp, kick the board away, and then use the right stick to contort your body into any shape--from a cannonball to a torpedo. Damage will be shown with all new factors leading up to your demise, such as airtime, rotation, number of pedestrians hit, and so on. Of course, if all you want out of the game is authenticity--because most skaters actively try to avoid throwing themselves into certain death--Hall of Meat is completely optional.

In order to match its progress in improving the way you play the game, Black Box wants to improve the way you document it. The video editor has been spruced up so that you're given more control over your camera angles. Now, instead of just choosing from five or six different angles that are anchored to your character's movement, you'll have two new camera options. The first is the "follow camera," which is similar to the old system in that it's attached to your character, but now, you can customize the angle of the camera and the level of zoom by moving an invisible camera freely about the world. The other is the "tripod" camera, which allows you to set a fixed camera that remains still even as your skater passes in and out of the frame.

Just as with the original video editor, you'll be able to chop up your videos into different sections then assign unique angles, effects, and playback speeds using time markers. Of course, all of these enhancements would be aided exponentially by a more reliable and intuitive content-sharing hub than the one available for the first game at skate.ea.com. For its part, Black Box has promised that fixing this site is a big focus. Anyone who went through the painful registration and account-linking process when the game first came out will know exactly what we're talking about.

All told, Skate 2 looks like it's going to offer plenty of new material for fans of the original without weighing down those who are unfamiliar with how the game works. EA still remains mum on the release date, sticking to its original "sometime in 2009" announcement. We'll be sure to bring you new details on the game as soon as we get them.

This new ability to kick the board away will become the centerpiece of the new Hall of Meat mode. The first game tracked your damage by popping a skeleton diagram on the screen whenever you'd bite it hard, showing you the various bones you'd bruised, fractured, or broken. This time around, you'll occasionally find yourself invited to take part in a contest to see just how badly you can wreck your body. Typically, you'll fling yourself off a ramp, kick the board away, and then use the right stick to contort your body into any shape--from a cannonball to a torpedo. Damage will be shown with all new factors leading up to your demise, such as airtime, rotation, number of pedestrians hit, and so on. Of course, if all you want out of the game is authenticity--because most skaters actively try to avoid throwing themselves into certain death--Hall of Meat is completely optional.

In order to match its progress in improving the way you play the game, Black Box wants to improve the way you document it. The video editor has been spruced up so that you're given more control over your camera angles. Now, instead of just choosing from five or six different angles that are anchored to your character's movement, you'll have two new camera options. The first is the "follow camera," which is similar to the old system in that it's attached to your character, but now, you can customize the angle of the camera and the level of zoom by moving an invisible camera freely about the world. The other is the "tripod" camera, which allows you to set a fixed camera that remains still even as your skater passes in and out of the frame.

Just as with the original video editor, you'll be able to chop up your videos into different sections then assign unique angles, effects, and playback speeds using time markers. Of course, all of these enhancements would be aided exponentially by a more reliable and intuitive content-sharing hub than the one available for the first game at skate.ea.com. For its part, Black Box has promised that fixing this site is a big focus. Anyone who went through the painful registration and account-linking process when the game first came out will know exactly what we're talking about.

All told, Skate 2 looks like it's going to offer plenty of new material for fans of the original without weighing down those who are unfamiliar with how the game works. EA still remains mum on the release date, sticking to its original "sometime in 2009" announcement. We'll be sure to bring you new details on the game as soon as we get them.

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