Skate 2: The Rewards of Failure

The most fun that I had in EA’s Skate 2 was when I failed. Maybe it’s because I haven’t played the previous Skate game, or any skating game since the Playstation (Tony Hawk 2 and 3), but I find Skate 2 difficult to get into. The controls are fine, if a bit touchy, but the open world turns what could be a fun, quick play game into a tedious tread.

Skating down a hill into downtown while doing tricks along the way sounds like a lot of fun, but when you get run over by a car, or collide with a pedestrian, or do a faceplant over a curb, for the thirtieth time it starts to grate. Worst of all, there’s little incentive to do this skillfully as stringing together a bunch tricks yields a score that does nothing. You get points, they fade away, you continue. Some could say that putting together a sweet ride, full of flips and grabs and grinds, is reward enough, but I just don’t find the system satisfying. Maybe I miss the physics-defying arcade styled tricks of the old Tony Hawk games (and SSX and its ilk.)

Skate 2 is also punishing in its difficulty. This, again, might be because I hadn’t played the first game, but it’s an uninviting introduction for a newcomer. It’s frustrating to randomly come upon a challenge at the very beginning of the game and fail to complete it after a dozen, two dozen, or more, attempts. Constant faceplants into the concrete when you are trying to accomplish the opposite of that are not fun.

Thankfully, in a stroke of genius, Skate 2 has a separate meta-game that takes place when you do fail (when not in a challenge.) Every crash is awarded points for speed, duration, height, obstacles hit, bones broken, etc. There’s a fairly solid structure to the challenges, which start out with simple tasks that you achieve inadvertently (hit a car) and quickly escalate to balletic set-pieces of pain, as you cannonball, spread-eagle, and flip your way into the most damaging of bails. I’ve earned more money in Skate 2‘s world by falling off my board than I did on it.

skate2Skate reel: Skate 2’s replay system an online service, is amazing.
Unfortunately, the embeded player autoplays so I’ve removed it.

It’s very much like the PSN title Pain, or the Dismount games, except with a full skateboarding game wrapped around it. Unfortunately, when the novelty wears off and all I have left is a $60 skateboarding game, rather than a free or cheap downloadable rag-doll game, I find myself quickly losing interest. When failure is more fun than success, it’s hard to be motivated to succeed.

  • This is based on about five hours with the game.
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