OlliOlli2: Welcome to Olliwood – Review
OlliOlli2: Welcome to Olliwood is a delicate mash of twitchy controls, fast-paced action, exhilarating highs and galvanizing lows. Building on the success of its predecessor, OlliOlli, the sequel boasts the same addictive gameplay with a few new features to excite and alarm.
The basic idea is still the same: that of a skateboarding sprite who automatically skates to the right of the screen – think Canabalt but on wheels. This relatively simple premise contrasts beautifully with the somewhat tricky controls, which make just reaching the end of the level a difficult task, let alone completing any of the myriad other challenges available.
While OlliOlli2 can be played with the keyboard, it is ideally played with a controller. Having been available on console first, this is not only the way the game was originally designed to be played, but I found having a controller gripped securely in my hands gave me a greater sense of control over the character, even though it took me literal hours to get used to the fact that it was the left analog stick, not the B button, that controlled jumping.
In fact, the left analog stick does most of the heavy lifting – pulling it down gets your character to crouch on his board, ready to jump in the air once you release it. Rotating it to the side before releasing will turn an ordinary jump into a variety of stunt jumps and pulling it back down again while in the air can result in a grind, if your character is jumping over a railing or other object. Stringing these stunts together results in combos, the worth of which increases with the number of stunts you can connect.
What goes up must come down, though, and landing your stunts can make or break a combo. Landing consists of hitting the A button as your character comes back to earth, the closer you are to the ground the better your landing will be, resulting in more points and greater ease continuing your combo streak. Landings can be anything from sloppy to perfect and nothing hurts more than ending a perfect streak with a sloppy landing.
But stunts aren’t just reserved for when your character is airborne. When skating on the ground, tilting or rotating the stick can perform basic manoeuvres such as kick flips and heel flip, allowing you to continue your combo streak even when there’s no rails to grind or power lines to launch over. These manuals are unique to OlliOlli2 and are a brilliant addition, making combo streaks far more attainable and perfect runs, elusive as they are, far more satisfying.
Other features new to OlliOlli2 include Combo-Rush, a local co-op allowing up to four players to compete at the same time via splitscreen. This isn’t the easiest mode of play but can be great fun with the right group of competitively-minded pals. There is also Spots and Daily Grind, a way compete with other players online for daily an all time high scores.
The one problem OlliOlli2 has, though I hesitate at calling it a problem, is its difficulty curve: it’s less a curve and more a brick wall, right in front of you. Or, more accurately, it’s the cold, hard ground rushing up to meet you at an alarming rate as you stack it for the millionth time (there’s a reason OlliOlli2 is the only game I’ve played where I’ve failed the tutorial). As fun and addictive as OlliOlli2 is, the pace at which new mechanics are introduced is relentless and the manual dexterity needed to master them and complete all challenges requires endless practice and patience. Constantly restarting levels will become a common event, whether it’s because you didn’t quite make that jump, haven’t got the hang of a particular move or, even more frustratingly, ended that 100 combo streak with only an okay landing instead of a perfect one.
Basically, OlliOlli2 is more of what made the original game so much fun, plus a few new features to put some meat on (broken) bones. Exotic new level locales and a thumping soundtrack add colour and vibrancy to an already pumping game so that, once you find your groove, you’ll be chasing that high score endlessly.