I haven't played more than five minutes of Electronic Arts' highly praised "Skate."
Being the only reporter for MTV Multiplayer in San Francisco, I'm used to seeing many games in genres unfamiliar to me. "Skate" is in that pile.
Yet I found myself at EA's coming out event for "Skate 2" last Thursday. I'd loaded up the demo for "Skate" just minutes before walking out the door. I barely made it through the tutorial.
Given that, if you (like me) haven't played "Skate," should "Skate 2" be on your radar? Absolutely. We both probably should have played "Skate," anyway.
Here's what matters and what doesn't about the new game...
There are no major revelations to the core "Skate" gameplay in the sequel. It's an evolution. People at the event seemed jazzed about the ability to get off the skateboard. A few non-"Skate" players I mentioned this to wonder if that's what made "Tony Hawk" jump the shark, but I don't think that's the case here. It's meant to allow players to navigate the environment more easily.
Given my lack of experience with the series, I didn't have many questions for the "Skate" team. I mostly watched, listened, observed. I asked others at the event what they thought. Folks who had been privy to an even earlier version of the game for print coverage said "Skate 2" was already looking leaps and bounds better visually. It still looked rough, but my guess is the guys at development studio Black Box are more concerned with nailing the gameplay right now, and that seems more than appropriate for their strategy with "Skate 2."
One thing I did wonder about, however, was the inability to export your self-captured skate sessions to a service other than EA's own online video hub. With "Spore" incorporating support for YouTube, might "Skate 2" benefit from that partnership? No one at the event was talking, though they acknowledged fan's requests for it. It didn't seem likely, though.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, you can (finally) be a female skater.
As for me, despite having passed on "Skate," my limited time with the sequel has me interested to see if the series can hook me the same way the original "Tony Hawk's Pro Skater" games did.
"Skate 2" doesn't have a release date yet, and is completely separate from "Skate It" the Wii and DS-exclusive versions of the "Skate" series coming later this year.