Gamers began showing a real interest in the world of skateboarding in the late 1990s, when a pro skater called Tony Hawk launched a franchise that would dominate for years. I remember spending hours on the same levels, attempting to build the biggest combos and the best scores. There’s been nothing to fill the gap left by the severe lack of quality skateboarding games recently, until OlliOlli came along in 2015 to a mostly positive reaction. Leap forward a year and there’s a sequel developed by Roll7 that has reached the Xbox One. But can OlliOlli2 XL Edition become my new addiction?
As a long time player of skateboard orientated games, one of the hardest parts of OlliOlli2 comes in the form of actually getting to grips with the standard controls. Using the analog stick to jump into a trick felt alien, and landing with the A button even more so. You wouldn’t believe the amount of times I tried the opposite way round through pure habit and failed miserably. But I’m glad I persevered because of the great moments that lay ahead of me once I was competent at it.
The tutorials in Skatepark come in handy as you can practice and practice in there until everything becomes second nature. It’s all simple enough to understand and slightly more expansive than that that found in the original OlliOlli; you’ll be performing manuals, spin tricks and grinds in no time. Manuals are one of the main additions to the OlliOlli sequel and they add a completely fresh dimension to the gameplay, in the way that it’ll allow you to prolong combos like never before.
You’ll find the bulk of the gameplay in the Career mode, which features 50 tracks across five different worlds split into Amateur and Pro difficulties. The main aim in these side-scrolling 2D areas is to skateboard your way from a set point to the finish line where the fans are waiting with open arms. For those of you thinking it sounds easy, you’d be wrong, simply because there are obstacles to jump or grind over. That’s not overly exciting though is it?
Throw in a healthy number of side objectives to really test your skills and everything starts to get interesting. Whether they are worked on one-by-one or all at once, it is entirely up to you. Hit a target score, chain ‘x’ number of tricks together, grind on specific objects; these are just a few of the things OlliOlli2 will have you doing. Completing all the objectives on an Amateur track will open up the Pro version, where everything is tougher and feels even more fast paced with many more obstacles in the way. There are times when there are different routes to take, in order to fulfil objectives, which certainly increases the replayability.
Then there are the short Spots which are merely small slices of tracks that cease once you finish a combo or reach the end. These are a decent way to work on your combo skills and are over pretty quickly in truth. The only real goal is to create a decent set of scores across them all to climb the overall leaderboard and reign supreme; you’re playing for bragging rights essentially.
Quite frankly, short and sweet is the name of the game for the rest of OlliOlli2’s solo focused game modes. For example the Daily Grind, a one-shot go at submitting a time on a track which is changed daily or Free-Skate (brand new for the XL Edition) lets you run free for little longer than usual, with lessened hazards, on five tracks with the same theme as the five worlds seen in Career.
This time out there’s also a local multiplayer mode for up to four players called Combo Rush, consisting of a tournament customisable by setting the length, choosing the tracks and how one can win. The amount of focus needed to stay on your board by avoiding obstacles means that the split screen offering doesn’t really work because it’s hard to see what’s going on in your tiny corner of the screen – unless you have a massive television. The options are great but this is crying out to be an online mode.
Visually, OlliOlli2 brings nothing that’s much above par, however it doesn’t really have to due to the fast paced nature of proceedings; you’ll barely have chance to admire the scenery. Roll7 have made all five worlds clearly different though; with a trip to the movie set styled Olliwood, a deadly carnival and even a futuristic robot world. The only issue I have involves being unable to distinguish which objects are grind-able at times.
With a vastly improved trick dictionary that keeps track of what you’ve performed, more creativity in the designs and a couple of additional modes, it’s fair to say that OlliOlli2 XL Edition is a certain improvement on the original outing. There’s an addiction to be had too; when you fall short on the finish line, the adrenaline fuelled gameplay forces you to have another bash, and another, until you make it. Even if mastering all the tricks is a bit tricky, there’s enough in the Career at least to keep you busy for a good few hours. It’s just a shame about the lack of substance in the other modes.
What’s it missing? An online mode mainly, but also better clarity in the visuals to make the player’s quick decisions easier by being able to figure out what lies ahead.
OlliOlli2 XL Edition is a worthwhile purchase for anyone who appreciated the original. Newcomers beware though, it’s tough to get into but once you’re in… there’s enjoyment to be had!