If you mentioned skating games to me before last year, Tony Hawk would instantly come to mind. Today, things are a bit different. When I played OlliOlli on Vita last year, I loved it. It was one of the best indie games in a long time and it innovated on so many levels. Roll7’s humble beginnings on Vita eventually brought OlliOlli to Steam, PS3, PS4 and even Wii U and 3DS. Today, OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood is out exclusively on PS4 and PS Vita, and it’s a huge step up from the first game in almost every way.
Gameplay in OlliOlli 2 has been refined, the visuals are way better, performance is better, and this is all without even considering the new gameplay mechanics and levels. OlliOlli 2 is still about skateboarding tricks, combos, and great level design. The new game adds a new mechanic called ‘manuals’ that completely changed the game for me. Manuals let you take your combos to the next level and I’ve managed to go through full stages in a single combo thanks to manuals. Reverts is another mechanic that has been added, along with grind switches. These give you a lot more freedom with tricks and dramatically increase what you can do while grinding.
You start in Olliwood and make your way through levels in five different areas through the game. Each level is accompanied by a pro mode for when you complete every challenge in the level. The Daily Grind returns as well with leaderboards, taunting you in unique ways each day to test your skills against everyone else.
The first and most noticeable improvement in OlliOlli 2 is the visuals. The game looks fantastic on PS4 and on Vita. You no longer play as a pixellated character on a skateboard; everything looks more polished. The jump in visual quality almost feels like going from PSP to Vita. Backgrounds are more detailed, subtle animations are thrown into the background to make everything seem more lively, and the tricks themselves look great. Each of the five areas offers a unique style that spans across backgrounds to grinding rails and obstacles. The game’s interface itself is now properly made for PS4 and Vita as opposed to being a Vita interface ported to a larger screen like in OlliOlli.
Controls are a lot more responsive in OlliOlli 2. One of my biggest complaints with the first game, aside from the few bugs, was how the controls felt a little sluggish given the pace of the game. I decided to try OlliOlli after spending two days playing OlliOlli 2 and it is almost unplayable without manuals and these perfectly responsive controls. I love the addition of boosters at the end of ramps that give you the edge in a perfect combo. Some of the latter levels require perfect grinds and perfect tricks and the difficulty curve is great.
OlliOlli was known for its great soundtrack. The sequel’s music lives up to the hype for me with an absolutely amazing soundtrack featuring the likes of Lone, Faulty DL, Submerse, and Mike Slott. You unlock more tracks as you progress in the game.
OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood is a great sequel and an amazing standalone game. There’s even a split-screen Combo Rush mode that will be added post-launch. I hope Roll7 either updates OlliOlli 1 or adds its levels to this game in the form of DLC because I need to Manual all the things.