When the first Skate debuted, it offered up a realistic simulation-based alternative to the unrealistic circus that the Tony Hawk franchise had become. Now, Skate 2 is here with some subtle improvements that push virtual skateboarding to new heights.

Skate 2: Skitched

Taking place in New San Vanelona, Skate 2 follows in the skidmarks of the original. Unfortunately, prior experience with the first installment is necessary if you hope to start playing right away; Skate 2 isn't a game where you can pick up the controller and start flipping your board around.

The innovative controls definitely take some getting use to. But that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Landing tricks can be more difficult than necessary but when you do pull off a sick trick it makes you feel unstoppable.

The game features a deep Career mode that adds a few new events such as the Hall of Meat and Tranny. The Hall of Meat events are by far one of the most addicting challenges where the aim is to bail off your board and eat as much concrete as you can. The Tranny contests are also exciting but suffer from the same problem as most other challenges-crowded level designs which make it hard to execute tricks to rack up points.

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Skate 2: Put On The Red Light

Skate 2 also has some iffy design problems that definitely cut into the fun. A good example is the addition of Big Black, the lovable bodyguard from the MTV show Rob & Big. For a fee of $500, he'll take out the pesky security guards and give you five minutes of freedom to skate around in a restricted area.

Unfortunately, there are skate stops - those little metal guards that they use to discourage skaters - planted everywhere, which seriously hinder your ability to line up tricks. You can deal with the stops by phoning your pal to come remove them for a hundred dollars but it seemed like an unnecessary barrier to overcome.

Thankfully, the refined multiplayer component makes up for the poor design choices found in the single-player mode. You can freeskate with friends and choose from over 100 different events. The transition from online freeskate to multiplayer challenges is seamless as well.

The events can go one of two ways, either a competition where you are pitted against eachother or a co-op event where you must work towards a common goal. Winning events that you suggest are the ultimate grounds for smack talking and the volume of various events is seemingly never ending so hours upon hours of fun is to be had.

NEXT PAGE: don't skate alone

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