OlliOlli 2: Welcome To OlliWood (PS4/PS Vita) | Review

Most of the time it’s nearly impossible for a game to reach the almost sacred goal of being pure perfection.  After all, when developing a game it’s required to take into account a plethora of design choices such as whether to craft the game for players who have a mere ten minutes to consume a game during a session, or craft the experience for those who have ten hours a day to sink into it. On top of that, there are literally hundreds of other things that sometimes prove difficult for a game to become perfect such as the general direction, flow of the gameplay, and other competing games in the same genre.  Despite how unobtainable it may be for most games, the experience that is OlliOlli 2 is pure perfection.

Building on top of what took players by surprise at the start of 2014, the team at Roll7 have cranked all the key notches up with OllIOlli 2. Of course it’s expected for a sequel to improve upon its predecessor, that’s of course unless the team has been struck with a case of Devil May 2-itis, but it’s simply staggering how deep, polished, and overwhelmingly fun OlliOlli 2 is once you become fully steeped in the addicting gameplay it offers.

Rather than trying to explore new facets of gameplay or design logic, OlliOlli 2 is once again a 2D skateboarding game in which it’s simply the player trying their best to survive the stage all while trying to perform a mega-combo and do bonus secondary tasks.  The key differentiating element about OlliOlli 2 is that it simply isn’t a retread of the first game with overhauled graphics or simply tighter controls; it fully comes across as a true evolution of the series thanks to some simply ingenious design choices that perfectly accompany what type of game it is.

Now featuring the ability to perform manuals, OlliOlli 2 feels like a completely new experience in the best way possible compared to the first entry.  A key staple of skateboarding basics, the ability to perform a manual at any time during gameplay is both simple to execute, and it also allows tricks to be strung together from start to finish – thus allowing some incredible moments to be had; that’s of course if you remember to press the Cross button when landing to achieve a perfect trick execution at the end of the stage to fully basque in your two million plus score.  Manuals are truly a game changer in OlliOlli 2 since it just makes the game flow better, feel more realistic in a sense, without becoming like EA’s former Skate series mind you, and it further deepens the trick system and how a player may approach a given stage.

Speaking of the stages, OlliOlli 2 certain opts to amp things up rather quickly in that regard. Compared to the slow process of delving into more complex levels as was the case in the first OlliOlli, the sequel goes full-on in requiring the upmost skill on the player in order to complete a stage and move on. This is far from being a negative aspect, though it does lead to some potential rage moments if you’re on your fifteenth straight try at a particular stage, as it instead feels like Roll7 is respecting their fanbase and players rather than attempting to dumb things down.  OlliOlli was a game that ultimately was tough at times yet always addicting, and OlliOlli 2 takes that formula again but perfects it in the process.

What makes OlliOlli 2 such an immediate masterpiece in my mind is that it features perfect game design.  When you play a game it’s of course preferred for all the key elements, that of controls, stage design, character movement, to feel cohesive and like it’s all working together rather than battling each other or failing in some departments. Everything in OlliOlli 2 just gels in such a perfect way that it’s something we really don’t see that often in gaming.  The thing that is most impressive about the approach taken with OlliOlli 2 is the design logic. Yes, certain things are taught to the player slowly when first playing the game such as how to perform a manual, but it’s deeper than that since the flow of the individual levels is the truly beautiful sight to behold.  Small things such as conveying what a player can do, such as the gap of a jump or how an environmental hazard can be approached, is ingenious at times and so is the general flow of a level. The levels at times require pure perfection on the part of the player, but it’s in the way that it’s building atop the skills that you’ve no doubt accumulated through playing the game so far rather than throwing hard stuff in for the sake of being hard.  Challenging elements are slowly doled out to the player and just like how a good game should be designed things are amplified to make the experience more fun and challenging rather than being one-note and dull.

Even more impressive is the fact that stages in OlliOlli 2 are simply bigger in size.  While it’s still possible to complete a stage in a quick one minute session, certain levels now feature multiple paths. So instead of just opting to stay on the ground or hop on a rail to grind, it’s now possible to take a path that will lead you either above or below the primary path in order to reach even bigger trick opportunities like the new addition of ramps.  The addition to multiple paths in stages is a great element to have since it allows the game to stay fresh, encourages even more playthroughs to be had, and allows a sense of freedom for the player to have when it comes to taking their best trick line.

Beyond the brilliance in stage design that Roll7 took with OlliOlli 2, the game simply feels so damn slick in the presentation.  Now featuring a brighter, and quite wider, color palette compared to the first entry, OlliOlli 2 has a fresh look that doesn’t betray the simple approach Roll7 sought to achieve since this isn’t an attempt to become more realistic. Instead, the game simply has a better visual pop thanks to levels featuring sun rays, moving elements, and a pronounced visual flair and identity between stages which range from Aztec jungles to a far-off sci-fi future.  And yes, to accompany the slicker presentation OlliOlli 2 has the game does indeed feature a rather eclectic mix of buttery beats to soothe your ears while playing.  Equally as good as the soundtrack featured in the first game, OlliOlli 2 should have a few beats that will become go-to tracks to listen to when trying to achieve a new high-score.

The design logic that Roll7 took with OlliOlli 2 ultimately results in what I think will go down as being the definitive skateboarding experience this generation.  Building wonderfully upon what the first OlliOlli did, the sequel is both the next logical step for the series to take all while featuring things that fans of the series no doubt hadn’t expected to be so good.  The true mark of excellence when looking at a sequel is that it’s so good that it doesn’t want you to ever play the predessor, which is the case I had with OlliOlli 2. That’s certainly not a knock against OlliOlli as I love that game, but OlliOlli 2 is simply the next best thing, and I suspect that it’ll be the best skateboarding game ever until Roll7 graces us with the presence of OlliOlli 3.

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