One more try. That’s the feeling that has pervaded every single run I’ve taken on OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood since it first released on PlayStation platforms many months ago. There are many games like OlliOlli 2 where the leaderboards push the player to challenge themselves and reach that next level, but OlliOlli 2 did it so elegantly it became more of a compulsion and elevated the whole game.
OlliOlli was a great game during its time and introduced the world to the concept, much like the original Tony Hawk Pro Skater did back it the day. Then Pro Skater 2 happened, and with some subtle additions, like the addition of manuals, changed everything about the game.
OlliOlli 2 quite literally does the same thing, though in the second dimension the effects of it are a lot more profound. A deceptively simple game at heart, OlliOlli 2 tasks you with the use of a control stick, a couple of shoulder buttons for modifiers and a single landing action button. It’s intuitive enough to understand within minutes, and satisfying to nail for the beginner.
Once you understand the basics, that’s when the game starts to ask more of you little by little. A stage is maybe a minute or two in actual length, but each stage asks you to shred five different challenges to truly clear it. These can be anything from hitting a certain multiplier or score to grinding specific rails on a much harder path. Slowly, the game is preparing you for the later stages, which get, quite literally, out of this world. Once you’ve destroyed each goal within the main stage, you unlock the pro level for that corresponding stage. If you happen to be that wizard who can then wreck those challenges in the super-hard pro levels, you’ll reach Rad mode, where nothing less than perfection is acceptable.
Those who dove into the original will instantly take note of the changed art style to the sequel, which traded in those muddy SNES pixels for some very clean animations. Tricks now have fairly distinct animations to them, and though the movie themed settings can vary wildly, it’s never difficult to tell what you can interact with and how you need to interact with it to prevent eating pavement. It’s a solid blend of being clean enough to not mess with the flawless mechanics but still very much pleasing to watch in motion.
Using movie sets as the backdrop for your trickery gives a far wider visual appeal to the game, when it stayed mostly grounded and industrial for the original. It begins simply enough to introduce itself with the studio backlots, but before you blink you’ll olli through a zombie theme park and robot apocalypse. These are all backed by some smooth beats that fit right alongside the methodical gameplay.
If I can back up a minute to my Birdman fueled diatribe from earlier, however, OlliOlli 2 didn’t add a whole ton in the way of moves from the original. What they did smartly add only serves to launch the game from “good” to “great”. Manuals and Reverts.
Manuals serve a similar purpose to what they did way back in Pro Skater 2, giving you a way to maintain a combo across otherwise blank terrain. These change everything veterans thought they knew about OlliOlli. Now instead of being about a series of short combos or a long downhill grind, you need to keep racking up your combo multiplier across the whole stage. It raises the tension, the numbers on the leaderboard and, particularly, the heartbreak when you mistime a landing and lose a 275k combo you accumulated through the level.
Smartly adding ways to carry a combo has allowed them to branch out levels in multiple ways, giving options for savvy players to maximize their point totals, of course with more risk being taken. The strength of OlliOlli 2 lays in how it never lets failure feel too crushing that you’ll put it down, rather drive you to reflexively hit the retry button and get you fixated on nailing the run. There is no downtime between eating road and getting rolling, which is hugely in OlliOlli 2’s favour.
Spots and the daily grind return from the original, offering some bite-sized tastes of what the larger levels offer and compact the leaderboard thrill into something easier to master. The daily grind gives players one shot to set a score to a global leaderboard after they feel they’ve practiced enough (so don’t choke!).
The PC version has the benefit of launching with the Combo Rush multiplayer mode added onto PS4 a few months after launch, letting up to four players on a wide variety of inputs challenge each other locally through Time, Score, Race, or Daily Grind-esque One-Shot challenges. While the usefulness of this local only mode on a PC platform might depend on how you have your particular machine set up, the simple fact that it is present in this release from the start removes the single biggest problem I had with OlliOlli 2 during its original release, where nothing it did was truly new. Iterative sure, but nothing as fresh as the multiplayer.
I had the opportunity to test the game across a few separate systems and input methods, and while it needs to be said in no uncertain terms that the keyboard does not fit this style of game, either current generation controller works wonderfully. Unlike the original games steam release, both Windows and Mac machines have no trouble booting the game, and modest machines can run it perfectly fine. Anything lower, and you might see some frame skipping, which is simply crippling for this game. Have a controller and relatively new computer and you’re set, but settle for no less.
OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood is just as iterative, compelling, skillfully designed, and with the multiplayer mode, even feels less rehashed than it did when it first came to PlayStation. It expands on the original in the perfect ways to take it above and beyond, completely rendering any predecessor obsolete. There is no way of not suggesting OlliOlli 2 highly, grab a controller and take a grind over to the Steam storefront.