I remember very clearly that day just over a year ago when I finally got to hop on board and push on with OlliOlli – and man was I impressed. Over the past thirteen months I’ve been sinking many an hour into the pursuit of that perfect run, that epic trick sequence, or that number one position on the daily grind or a spot (I held one of each a few times, however brief they lasted). After a week with OlliOlli2 however, I doubt I’ll ever venture to turn on the first game for a bit of fun again.
That’s because while OlliOlli was an amazingly addictive and well-rounded first step into the genre, OlliOlli2: Welcome to Olliwood is the equivalent of a quantum leap forward. But before I get into what makes this one so much better, let’s talk about what the game actually entails.
OlliOlli is obviously part skateboarding game, but it’s also presented as a side-scrolling runner. Unlike past skateboarding games like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and Skate, Roll 7’s OlliOlli takes a 2D-plane approach to the genre – laying out the course in front of you to be unavoidably navigated using rhythm-game-like lightning reflexes, jump moves, flip tricks, spins and stomped landings before reaching the end point of the level. OlliOlli2 however, amps up the options and lets you string even more tricks together – introducing manuals, reverts, advanced tricks and more to the roster in an effort to keep those combo going. This means that if you play your cards right, not only will your levels be filled with combos, most of the time it’s possible (and recommended) that you string a single combo together throughout the entire level.
Aside from combos and score based tasks, Welcome to Olliwood and its predecessor also assign each career level three other challenges based on things such as item collection, trick completion, reaching a special area, or something of the like – sometimes slipping in additional conditions to up the challenge. Completing all five tasks (stars) in any one amateur level will unlock the pro level in the area which corresponds to it (ie; beating 2-1 on amateur will unlock area 2-1 on pro), and simply making it to the end of each level without bailing will unlock the corresponding spot in the spot menu.
Spots are another form of each level’s contents which focus solely on biggest single combo score, giving you a small area with which to execute the best combo you can without stopping or bailing. For each level (both amateur and pro) there is a spot to be unlocked, meaning that in total you can unlock 100 locations to skate – 50 levels and 50 spots – just like the first game.
There’s also a new tutorial/move introduction mode called “Skatepark” which provides you with simple, flowing locations to learn the moves (whether new or otherwise) as well as practice them. There are thirteen different tutorials in this mode, ranging from “Pushing” to “Spins” and everything in between. Mastering these skills is what will get you the high scores on the leaderboards, so I’d suggest you pay attention to the tutorials and practice like a madman.
Helping you along your journey through all these career levels, spots to own, skatepark tutorials and (of course) trophies is the profiles menu, which not only shows how much of the game’s total content has been completed but also holds onto some quite useful statistics as well.
Checking your profile’s “Completion” page will give you a quick glance at an overall progress percentage, the number of skatepark tutorials completed, levels completed (gotten to the end of, not all stars), challenges completed (that’s the stars), spots skated, RAD mode levels completed, and Roll 7 developers found – as well as the total available to finish the task completely.
Likewise, the “Statistics” page gives you a run down of a bunch of different in-game counts – including perfect variation counts of landings, manuals, grinds, launches, reverts, and revert manuals. The one non-perfect item that it counts is grind switches, which don’t actually qualify for a quality variable (ie; sloppy, ok, cool, sick and perfect) like the other tricks do.
As for the title’s replayability, it’s held in things like the spot leaderboards (both individual and ultimate, including a “friends” option), level high-scores, the daily grind challenge, and simply how hard the game can become later on. Over the past week (and not including launch days), I’ve held a record as high as #5 on the ultimate (combined) spot score leaderboard – and yet I still haven’t unlocked the last few pro levels in the career mode because the challenges are so tough. This is one of those games where even the best of us won’t necessarily unlock it all, so be prepared to fall, fall, and fall again on your journey – ’cause this isn’t supposed to be easy… and it isn’t.
Which brings us to a mode that many of us (including myself) may never see; RAD mode. RAD mode is a super-hard mode for the ultimate OlliOlli player and will only unlock once you’ve completed every challenge in the professional mode of career. It’s actually an option in the level overview menu (you might notice the greyed out “Off” and square indicator on the right), and when enabled will require you to hit every landing, manual, takeoff (of ramps) and grind perfectly or you’ll fail. This mode is both the ultimate punishment and the ultimate challenge to the seasoned OlliOlli veteran (and I do mean seasoned), so I wouldn’t go into the game thinking you’ll be showing off your RAD skills anytime soon.
Moving to controls, like the first game this one does way with the typical skateboard game trick formula and goes its own direction – taking cues from them but delivering a play style all its own. Flip tricks and ollies/nollies are executed with the left analog stick, using a combination of swivels and flicks to execute them (the harder ones adding in trigger holds and reverse swivels). Tricks can also be modified with the right or left trigger as well to induce spins, which speed up as you rotate and up your multiplier with each half twist – giving you a better chance at a higher score.
As a side note, I found the flip tricks much easier to execute on the Vita’s sticks rather than the DualShock 4 (yes, this one works on PlayStation TV too), which just goes to show you that this one’s still best on Vita – just like the first.
Looking to grinds, they’re executed with a pick (holding the left analog to one side or top/bottom) or a pick and a trigger hold, timed perfectly (or close to it) with the landing on the rail. Perfect grinds can be further modified into grind-switches, using a pick and “X” to swap mid-grind and again up the multiplier and trick score.
As for manuals and reverts, they’re variations on landings – with “X” stomping your move in a landing (ending a trick), left/right on the analog with “X” landing you in a manual, and the right trigger with “X” landing you in a revert. Reverts are unique in that they have the additional option of moving into a manual if you press left/right quick enough after the trick executes, giving you a two-times additional multiplier for one fairly swift set of actions.
The tricks and maneuvers in this game are simple enough to execute on their own (save for maybe a few of the advanced flip tricks), but when stacked together in a frantic setting of landings, ramps, rails, obstacles and more stairs than it takes to reach the top of your local “tallest tower” you get something special and tricky in the same right. That’s where that “one more try” mentality comes in, and why I’m sure I’ll be playing this one ’til the next one hits – just like I did with the last.
The graphics in OlliOlli2 are certainly not meant to be realistic, however in comparison to the graphics in OlliOlli – again we’ve seen a huge leap forward. The background has gone up in detail and become more appealing to the eye, with perspective-shifting landscapes and cityscapes accompanying each of the 100 locations available. The skater has also become more detailed and fluid in motion, as has the world – with the trickable objects becoming much more plentiful and varied in shape and size.
Fret not however, as they’ve added a simple colour scheme to non-obvious objects which leaves rails to have a blue stripe, ground to either be neutral in colour or have a yellow stripe, and hazards to contain green or red colour. This works quite well to give you an overview at a glance, and using these colour hints will ensure you don’t attempt the wrong action on or around the wrong surface.
The soundtrack in Welcome to Olliwood was – in my opinion – more fitting and interesting than those in the first game. While I often played OlliOlli with the sound off or my own music, I found myself keeping the sound cranked in this sequel and more often than not bobbing along to the music as I skated. While we’re still missing the mainstays of my skateboard game generation (that punk rock and dubstep-esque rap stuff from Tony Hawk and Skate – among others), there’s something about the music that just works.
Coming in on where I should be issuing my closing thoughts, I think I’ve given my hand away already – my absolute adoration for this game seeping through into every facet of this review. Is OlliOlli2 perfect? No. There are definitely things (such as a head-to-head S-K-A-T-E-style challenge mode) that I would love to see in an “Olli3Olli3” if one was ever made, and a few issues that could use some TLC – like the coaster cars having a slightly extended collision area… but those things are so minor at this point that I almost don’t care.
The bottom line is, if you liked OlliOlli – you’ll love this… and if you didn’t like OlliOlli, this is still an extraordinarily superior game you should really give a chance. In the past year I’ve helped many a game connoisseur get addicted to the first title – both skateboarding fans and otherwise – and I’m sure this next year will be spent doing quite the same with OlliOlli2.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve slipped down the leaderboards while writing this and need to get back to my double heelflips, nose manuals and darkslides. See you on the flipside, Loungers!