Review: OlliOlli2: Welcome to Olliwood (PS Vita)

Review-OlliOlli2

Roll7’s OlliOlli was something of a surprise when it hit the PS Vita early last year. A mix of simple yet heavily stylised cartoon visuals and reaction-based gameplay, it was a game that came out of the blue but almost single-handedly revolutionised how a skateboarding game should be done on a handheld system.

It’s true that OlliOlli also eventually made it to the main consoles too, but it was a game that just felt like perfection on the PS Vita. The controls were tight; the visuals minimalist but perfectly formed for the Vita’s display. Fast forward a year and out of nowhere OlliOlli2: Welcome to Olliwood has kickflipped it’s way onto the Vita and PlayStation 4 as part of March’s PlayStation Plus instant game collection update, and as far as sequels go fans of the original game really couldn’t have wished for anything more.

OlliOlli2 takes the formula of the original game and adds more of everything: more tricks, more stages, more gameplay modes. Yet the key features that made the prequel so much fun and so addictive are still here, albeit in slightly tweaked form. The game’s subtitle refers to the way that all of the stages in OlliOlli2 are themed after movie sets, so you’ll find yourself tricking and grinding through studios and lots that are decked out to mimic various well-known themes from cinema, many of which also contain subtle references to familiar scenes from the flicks. There are five different distinct environments, each of which contain five separate stages in both amateur and pro flavours, both with a different set of objectives to achieve. These achievements can range from grinding a particular object within the level or collecting a set number of items, to achieving a certain score or stringing together a specified number of tricks, and this chaining is one of the most welcome new features of OlliOlli2. As well as the new graphics and new trippy (yet strangely relaxing) soundtrack, Roll7 have increased players’ ability to score astronomical points tallies by adding a new manual landing that allows combos to be continued between ramps and grinding areas. In essence, this one addition to the game’s superbly-named ‘tricktionary’ makes it possible – if you’re good enough – to create one enormous combo of tricks, flips and grinds that can last for an entire level.

Another new inclusion in OlliOlli2 is a tutorial mode that enables you to quickly learn manoeuvres that will aid you in subsequent stages, and those who enjoyed the original’s ‘daily grind’ (where you get one chance to score as many points as you can in a global leaderboard) will be pleased to see it return.
OlliOlli2
I immediately felt at home with OlliOlli2 having played the first game for a considerable amount of time, and within minutes I was once again tricking and spinning (that’s about as far as my skateboarding terminology goes I’m afraid!) like I’d never stepped away from OlliOlli. That said, the game’s unique handling does take some getting used to if you’re unfamiliar with the way the ‘boarder controls – my initial few hours with the first game were torrid, and I constantly found myself ollying at the wrong time or bailing as soon as I even looked at a pile of rubbish that needed to be aerially traversed. This is probably down to the way that there is no traditional ‘ollie’ button here – the left analogue stick is used to prime said move and releasing it makes your character leap into the air. From this airborne position, you can enable grinding on street furniture and initiate any number of acrobatic contortions from the aforementioned tricktionary. The key though, is a successful landing, and this can only be achieved by hitting the X button at the exact moment your wheels meet the pavement.

Get it right and you’ll get a speed boost and a ‘sick’ landing; time it wrong and you’ll either get a ‘sloppy’ landing and no points, or you’ll end up eating floor with no alternative other than to hit Triangle and restart your run. And you will be hitting Triangle – a lot. This is where the quality of OlliOlli2 shines thought though. Like a lot of games of this style, OlliOlli2 is massively addictive, fairly easy to pick up and extremely difficult to master…and once you discover the revert manuals, grind switching and shoulder button tweaks, you’ll find it very hard to put down, even after you’ve bailed for the 20th time in same place. OlliOlli2 is less a game and more an addictive, neon-hued drug that just taunts you to have another go. You know you messed up the last run because you didn’t nail that landing – it was your own fault. Now try again. And again…and again. And when you do finally achieve the criteria that sees you gain all of the stars on a particularly difficult stage, you’ll feel a sense of satisfaction because you know you got everything right because OlliOlli2 refuses to hold your hand in any way. You mess up? It’s your fault. Score a ridiculous number of points? Yep – that was all your own work too. Well done. Now here’s the next stage, wise guy.

OlliOlli2: Welcome to Olliwod (Trailer)

Conclusion

Considering Sony is offering OlliOlli2 for free as part of a PlayStation Plus membership this is an outstanding package, and if you enjoyed the first instalment of Roll7’s skateboarding series then you’re sure to be in heaven with this. Quite simply one of the best skating games ever made.

Link: OlliOlli2: Welcome to Olliwood Official Website


Last Updated ( 11 March 2015 )  

Tom Charnock

A true connoisseur of failed and obscure console hardware, if Tom isn't extolling the virtues of the Jaguar CD's texture smoothing abilities or the Dreamcast's vast array of useless peripherals he's usually on Twitter asking where all the Super A'Can games are.

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