Kris Wall reviews OlliOlli2: Welcome to Olliwood…
Just one more go. Four words that every gamer has uttered to themselves time and time again. That need to do something again, better, faster, more accurate, more skillful, a better combo, a higher score. Over time, games have begun introducing the ability to restart levels quickly with the Tony Hawk’s pro Skater series immediately springing to mind as one that claimed hundreds of hours of my time messing up routines and combos and then immediately restarting in my pursuit of the perfect run. In more recent times, games like Trials and Hotline Miami allow you to instantly get back into the action with zero downtime at the press of a button in order to retry, to better, to perfect.
To glance at OlliOlli2, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a colourful yet simplistic side scrolling skateboard game, however you would be wrong, so very very wrong. For hidden behind it’s deceptively simple looks is a game of serious depth and skill, offering players a system that is accommodating to new players and easy to get to grips with but mechanically rich in potential for experimentation and mastery for those who wish to dive deeper into its mechanics.
The first thing that really surprises with OlliOlli2 is the range of control you have and the depth of tricks on offer. Sharing the same system that EA’s Skate series ushered in, holding down on the right stick and then flicking upwards will make your boarder perform a simple ollie to help launch over obstacles and clear gaps. However, holding the stick in different directions will bring out the kickflips and hardflips and on top of all that there are the Street Fighter style quarter and half circle motions which will bring in your more advanced laser flips and shove-its.
The control system also applies to grinding while shoulder buttons add rotations to your combo in the air or can be used in conjunction with the trickset to open up even more variations such as underflips and heelflips. The game has also introduced manuals allowing you to link one trick to the next in one long unbroken routine. Quite a lot to take in for such a simple looking game.
Timing is absolutely everything in OlliOlli2 and mere milliseconds can mean the difference between a perfect landing and a combo destroying ‘sloppy’ landing that will steal your score and your momentum. The big hook in OlliOlli is having to ‘lock’ an ollie in place by pressing X upon contact with the ground again. Tapping X at the end of a trick will ensure you hit the ground with a decent landing but no added bonuses, don’t do it at all and everything you’ve accumulated will disappear into thin air. However, timing it just right upon contact with the ground or a rail will result in a much coveted perfect landing, a points bonus and an all important speed boost to keep up your run.
Maintaining momentum is absolutely critical in OlliOlli, especially in the later levels and more advanced stages where the game becomes a series of intense obstacle courses and anything less than a perfect to good landing will sap you of precious speed that could mean the difference between clearing the next gap or ending your routine entirely. The game is very fast paced from the beginning but later on it’s an almost breathless series of clearing gaps, nailing challenges, attempting to hit a record high score and remembering to lock it all in place at the end.
The game confidently walks that fine line of risk and reward that just keeps you coming back, between the crushing low of absolutely nailing a varied combo and forgetting to lock it all in and watching it disappear into nothingness with the absolutely euphoric elation that comes with a flawless routine of variations, manuals and perfect landings that covers the entire level, locks in place and rewards you with a record breaking high score that you’ll immediately want to try and better.
There’s plenty for you to get stuck into as well with each level containing 5 challenges which can range from things as easy as nailing a high score, covering a certain amount of grinds or collecting an object in the level to some seriously tough high scores, clearing levels in one long chain or combos of complex move set variations. Should you nail all 5 challenges in the basic levels then you’ll open up the pro variation along with 5 new challenges that cater to seasoned OlliOlli experts who will relish the chance at some seriously complex and punishing goals, some of which I can’t even begin to comprehend accomplishing. While OlliOlli2 is accessible to all, it must be said that it comes with a very steep learning curve, however it’s a challenge that will keep you coming back for more.
Until a new and actually good Tony Hawk game appears, OlliOlli2 more than fills that gap with confidence, style, depth and reward. OlliOlli2 is currently free on PSN until the end of March for PS4 and PS Vita and I can’t recommend it highly enough for fans of the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and Skate series. Once you’ve mastered the basics and gotten into the habit of locking routines and combos in place, you’ll quickly be sucked into the repeating cycle of crushing lows and epic highs, chasing down higher and higher scores, ever more complex combos and the need to constantly better yourself and dominate the leaderboards. And if it all goes wrong, just hit triangle and immediately start it all again.
+ Fun for beginners and experts alike
+ Deep and rewarding trick system
+ Plenty of challenges to keep you busy
– Steep learning curve
– Pro challenges are hardcore
Reviewed on PlayStation 4
Kris Wall – Follow me on Twitter