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OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood Review: Grind Over Matter
With the release of OlliOlli early last year, British developer Roll7 proved to gamers that skating games might not have been in as much trouble as we had previously thought. The Tony Hawk series had spent nearly a decade gradually running the skateboarding genre into the ground. Fresh ideas were all but non-existent, and skating games had found themselves flirting with irrelevance with each subsequent release. When OlliOlli was released it wasn’t just a fresh take on the genre, it was a complete re-imagining. OlliOlli was a fantastic game. Its sequel, OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood, is even better.
Much of my appreciation of OlliOlli 2 comes from the huge strides Roll7 has made in improving upon the first game’s mechanics. The controls are more responsive, the tricks are more varied, the animations are more varied, the level designs are more dynamic. If there was room for improvement, Roll7 addressed that. At its core OlliOlli 2 is the same game as the first. If you like the first game, you will love the sequel. Beautiful, rich new graphics take place of the retro, pixelated look of the first, and your tricktionary is more expansive than ever before. For the newcomers to the series, accessibility is the name of the game, and OlliOlli 2 is as accessible as it gets.
At its core, OlliOlli 2 looks like a simple flash game. There’s pretty much only six things you can do throughout the whole game: push, grind, jump, flip, spin, manual. The variety of what you can do in all those categories is what makes controlling it all so fun, and control is the real key here. Everything you do, you feel like you have complete control. All your tricks are based on your ability to react with the perfect precision in terms of control and timing. Your tricks and grinds are all controlled with the left analog stick, and the points you get at the end of your trick are dependent solely on your ability to stick the landing using the X button. With such simple mechanics, a game with unresponsive and sloppy controls would be doomed to failure, which is what makes OlliOlli 2 all the more impressive.
As you start to get more comfortable with the control scheme, a whole world of possibilities opens up. The assortment of combos is endless. Some stages can even be cleared while using one combo throughout the entirety of the stage, never landing until the finish line is crossed. The learning curve is infinite. As you progress through the stages and are confronted with more difficulty challenges, your will to improve becomes greater. Better pacing, better timing, and better planning all become paramount to your success. The progression is so gradual, yet well presented, that before you know it you’re at Stage 20, 30, or 40, and you can’t even fathom how Stage 1 was ever difficult.
I played the game on both PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita. The PS4 is definitely the way to go. Thumb dexterity is of the utmost importance when it comes to nailing down the perfect combo, and the Vita sticks lack the precision ideal for peak results. That being said, if the Vita is your only option, it is a viable one. Don’t let choice of platform stray you from playing this amazing game.
With games as simple as OlliOlli 2, it’s a take-it-or-leave-it type of situation. Before the rise of indie developers—both in quality of product and their popularity to consumers—games like OlliOlli 2 would have been cast aside and labeled as a cheap flash title. That’s what’s so great about the landscape of games today and what excites me for the future. Games like OlliOlli 2 are everything that’s right with gaming: pure fun. Also, the game is free on PS Plus for the month of March, so you have no excuses. Why not give it a shot?
OlliOlli 2 was reviewed using a downloadable version of the game on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita.