Wednesday, 25 March 2015

OlliOlli (PS4) review

Ten years ago, skateboarding games were at the height of their popularity. A string of hugely successful Tony Hawks games defined the genre, before they unfortunately became stale. Then, EA brought us Skate, a much more realistic approach to the sport, but both of the sequels lacked the quality of the first, and it seems like it's game over for those too. Thankfully, years of skateboarding silence have been broken, with a little indie game by developers roll7, called OlliOlli. It's a departure from the skating games you're used to, as it's 2D, but don't think that makes it a lesser game. It's probably the best skating game since Tony Hawks Pro Skater 2, which if you aren't aware, was kind of a big deal. Read our full review below to find out why!

OlliOlli launched on the PS Vita earlier in the year, and has now been brought to PC, Mac, Linux, PS3 and PS4 (which is the version reviewed). It is a 2D title, with gorgeous pixel art graphics, and combines the insane combos of Tony Hawks with the control system of Skate, and the resulting game is pretty awesome. There are a number of environments, ranging from a junkyard, to a cold war base, to neon Japan-based city, and each location has ten levels. To complete the level, you simply have to get to the end of the course without bailing. Sounds simple enough, but it's really not.

One of the inherent challenges of OlliOlli is keeping enough speed to clear the gaps

The early levels can be completed pretty easily, but the later stages require you to string together massive combos to keep your speed up, thus allowing you to clear some huge gaps. You can obviously push to keep speed up, but if you don't land tricks and grinds perfectly, you will dramatically lose speed. To land a trick perfectly, you just have to tap X just before you hit the ground. Time it badly and you'll have a sloppy landing, which knocks your skater off balance. Sometimes it's not an issue, but more often than not you'll need to pull off a perfect landing in order to have time to make the next jump. It's simple to learn, but when there are constant obstacles, such as in the later levels, you will need some skill to make it through to the end.

As well as getting to the end of the stages, each one has five different challenges for you to complete. These usually consist of a high score, a high combo, landing a certain trick, collecting specific, level-themed items, and finishing without using any pushes or grinds. They really do add a lot to the game, and it's easy to lose hours trying to complete some of the harder objectives. The difficulty ramps up when you take on the Pro levels. It's one of those games, like Super Meat Boy and BattleBlock Theatre, that requires absolute precision, and a whole lot of patience. You'll probably want to smash your controller up on a number of occasions. But when you do eventually complete something that's been plaguing you for a long time, the immense feeling of satisfaction absolutely makes up for it. 

The in-game "Tricktionary" shows you how to pull off  every trick in the game

If you've been hankering for a decent skateboarding game, OlliOlli is the one for you. It's difficult in all the right ways, it looks beautiful, and plays even better. You'll not only need a bucketload of skill, but great memorisation of the levels, and cat-like reflexes. There hasn't been a truly memorable skating game for a long time, but OlliOlli is the remedy to that. You should absolutely go and buy this game right now. 


by Louis Gardner

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