The Tony Hawk games gave a generation of gamers the idea that skateboarding is simple. With a few button-taps you could pull off ridiculous flips and twists that would make even the best real-life boarders roar in approval.
Touchgrind Skate 2 comes at things from the other direction. Because in the real-world, skating is tough. It's all about balance, timing, and sliding your feet around on a plank of wood no wider than the length of your shoes.
Here, though, your fingers replace your feet, dancing over the touchscreen in order to pull off combinations of flips and grinds to score as many points as you can. And at first it's tough. Really tough.
But if you persevere, you'll find a brilliant skateboarding game that rewards practice with pleasure.Decked out
The game starts with a series of tutorial videos. You're walked through the basic tricks and moves you're going to need to be able to perform, and then given a chance to try them out. Pull one off and you move to the next chunk of the tutorial.
The most basic move involves pressing two fingers onto the board, then sliding them left or right to steer. You can brake and powerslide by swiping in a direction or lifting up one of your fingers.
Even this takes a while to get used to, though, and you'll often find yourself forgetting what your fingers should be doing.
The basis of pretty much all of your tricks is an ollie. You lift your finger from the middle of the board, then from the back of the board, and it leaps into the air. Depending on how well you get the timing down it might be a long way or a couple of inches.
From there you'll start to add swipes and taps, learning to spin the board in various directions, or exert pressure on different points to perform different grinds when you land on a rail.Grey lines
It's a complex, involved system, but it gives you a level of control that button-taps and analogue stick-flicks just can't. And for the first half an hour you'll hate it. It's playing in a completely different way, and you'll spend a lot of time ramming into walls and pulling off wimpy little jumps.
But then your fingers start to get it, and you realise the potential for fun built into every pixel of the game. Chaining together lines becomes second nature, as you leap from ramp to rail to bench to floor, the score counter ticking over as you create your own little runs of tricks.
Each of the three parks you can choose from is brilliantly designed, allowing the game to flow. Challenges ask you to look at objects in different ways, opening up even more possibility in a game that's dripping with it.Flip out
Toughgrind Skate 2 focuses all of its attention on the processes and actions involved in skateboarding, and it's so much richer for that. There are decks and stickers to customise, but this is a game that really only cares about the time you spend on the board, not what it looks like.
A brilliant asynchronous multiplayer mode that sees you trying to beat an opponent's score finishes off the package nicely, although it'd be even better if there were a pass-and-play option included.
You can record and share your replays, too, so your friends can marvel at your impeccable lines or gasp at your hilarious failures.
I urge you to take your time with Touchgrind Skate 2, because if you do, you'll find a wonderful, intricately constructed game that, while a little rough around the edges, is a lot of fun once you get the hang of it.