Tag Archives: PS4

OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood Review

Platforms: PS4, Playstation Vita
Release Date: March 3, 2015

The first OlliOlli was the perfect arcadey skating game. Plain and simple.

Nailing kickflips and crooked grinds was a sublime way to pass the time before bed or while pooping. A long list of increasingly difficult challenges and huge array of tricks allowed this game to have replay value, but in small chunks to fit the platform it was made for, being the Playstation Vita.

OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood is the follow-up coming only a year and change later, sporting a slick new look and promising a multitude of added features. Piling on bullet-point worthy features may sound like a boastful press release, but they each improve a game with an already incredible foundation.

The pure art of OlliOlli 2 is how it forces the player to step their game up. There are no upgrades. There are no skill points. The more you play, the better you will eventually get at extending combos and destroying your old high scores. Timing, patience, and skill are encouraged with progression, and so is that rewarding fuzzy feeling of mastering something that once stood as a challenge. In a world where experience bars dominate each release, it’s refreshing to see an experience bar that is a bit more intrinsic.

Points are important though, because they make up the whole crux of the game. Achieving lengthy combos is possible through linking tricks together and finding ways to add to the almighty point multiplier. In the first OlliOlli, this was only possible through chaining grinds in between tricks. Once you stuck the landing, your combo ended, which limited how you could rack up millions of points.

I hear the ancient Mayans would also nosegrind back in the day.
I hear the ancient Mayans would also nosegrind back in the day.

OlliOlli 2 adds some new basic tricks, but manuals, reverts, and grind switching all open up combo-extending possibilities and subsequently provides a wealth of new strategies. Manuals and reverts (which can be linked) yield ways to add to the multiplier on the ground, which gives more choice and opens up the level design. Worlds no longer have to have endless grind rails because these new moves give more ways to link combos together that don’t require a grindable surface.

Grind switching, which allows the player to switch grind mid-rail, is a smaller addition, but a great one nonetheless because it widens the set of available skills and is another way to increase the multiplier. Including manuals, reverts, and grind switching may seem small, however they add an exponential amount of depth because each new skill becomes yet another tool to master.

Here's an exclusive look at Pacific Rim 2, although sadly this sequel has no Ron Perlman or Charlie Day.
Here’s an exclusive look at Pacific Rim 2, although sadly this sequel has no Ron Perlman or Charlie Day.

The depth will showcase to players willing to put in the time to see it, which is an easy given considering the amount of content OlliOlli 2 has. In addition to the score-heavy Daily Grinds and Spots, there are five worlds with five normal levels and five hard levels apiece. Once all challenges are completed, RAD mode is unlocked, which is a super hard mode for the Tony Hawk-iest of Tony Hawks. On paper, it doesn’t seem like a lot, but knocking out challenges one by one takes multiple runs through levels that already have splitting paths. The variability of the gameplay and the dozens upon dozens of challenges gives OlliOlli 2 plenty of replay value for those willing to seek it.

I say “seek it” because most levels need to be unlocked through achieving certain hard tasks. OlliOlli 2 is a difficult game, yet never frustrating. Sure, some levels require clairvoyance and path memorization, though the extremely quick restart timer alleviates any possible aggravation. You don’t even have time to get mad because you’ll already be rolling on your next run.

Fun fact: cowboys would often settle duels at high noon by doing laserflips and darkside grinds.
Fun fact: cowboys would often settle duels at high noon by doing laserflips and darkside grinds.

No matter the trial or world, OlliOlli 2’s funky fresh visuals pack heat. Simplicity carries the visual style since it is only made up of a few colors, however the brightness pairs well with game’s inventive fantastical worlds. I didn’t expect to be skating through a zombie roller-coaster or a Pacific Rim-esque graveyard, yet I was delighted that these unique world ideas allow for some clever visual change-ups from the usual Earthy locales. The soundtrack is also a highlight, featuring smooth tunes that feel right at home in a skateboarding game. It’s a kind of soundtrack that you can sit back and, say, write a review to.

OlliOlli 2 is just about as good as it can be. Striking that balance between keeping what works, streamlining what is there, and adding new content is tricky, but developer Roll7 did exactly what needed to be done to ensure OlliOlli 2 was the definitive OlliOlli experience. The tiny additions like ramps and a new graphical style deserve props but reverts and manuals drastically better the game by adding an abundance of new strategies. OlliOlli 2’s best features are being simple, deep, and replay-able, which make it a fantastic arcade-y skateboarding game, and the ultimate portable experience. Tony Hawk should be jealous.

Perfect!:

+Girthy amount of content
+Intuitive trick system is easy to immediately grasp but has layers of depth for differing skillsets
+Pretty, minimalistic visual style and catchy soundtrack

Sketchy:

-Some levels require some memorization

olliolli2 score

The Teardown: Metro: Last Light: Redux

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Release Date: August 26, 2014
Average Scores: 83, 84, 84

I saw the Gamefly envelope resting on my bed and my heart sank into my gut (which could have been Doritos-flavored Mountain Dew now that I think about it). I had one thought: “Fuck. This better not be another Ninja Gaiden game.”

It could have been My Little Pony Sim 2014 or “Game of the Century” Cory in the House, one of which is a real game; I did not care. Just not another Ninja Gaiden game, please. Thankfully, I was greeted with this on my PS4 dashboard upon inserting the mystery disc:

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No more garbage combat. No more cringeworthy stories with awful one-liners. I was free.

Well, not entirely free. I still had Metro: Last Light: Redux to play… again. I had already suffered through the regular version of Metro: Last Light last year, but Ukranian developer 4A Games had the bright idea of remastering this “classic” to reach a new audience on new consoles with prettier visuals.

But no one was complaining that Metro looked like hot street trash. Hell, not many were even complaining about Metro at all. To my surprise, Metro was met with great reviews and decorated with awards from the media and fans alike.

It looks great and knows how to set a mood – I will give it that – but playing it was more frustrating that riding an actual metro in San Francisco. However, it did have the same amount of brown coat-wearing drunk white dudes. A mere coincidence, probably.

Moving on.

Metro tosses you into a myriad of narrow tunnels, each filled with more things to shoot than the last. The problem is that sneaking or shooting through these situations is always a headache. Stealth sucks because of the shoddy enemy intelligence. They are either brain dead stupid or hyper intelligent super soldiers. Or, to break this down more: all human enemies possess the mind of Stephen Hawking or the mobility of Stephen Hawking. There is no middle ground.

Just get a rib removed, dude. It makes it way easier.
Just get a rib removed, dude. It makes it way easier.

The mutated freaks, which I can just assume is what most Russian men look like when they do not get their hourly vodka shots, take home the grand prize in being generally about as pleasant as putting a toothpick under your big toe and kicking the nearest wall. They will sprint right up in your grill and mosh like some metal heads, lopping off large amounts of health and even larger amounts of patience. Escaping is not an option because backpedaling makes the main character, Artyom, move at half his normal speed. So the most natural movement that someone would use when confronted by horribly disfigured beasts is significantly hamstrung when you need it most. It does not make a lick of sense.

In a game where you can shoot dog-size bears and bear-sized dogs, this is what made the least amount of sense: not being able to move at a consistent speed. When the playing part of your video game sucks, that is not a good sign. However, the nearly-transparent strokes of a well-made game are in the periphery but lost in the thick, burnt weeds of the nuked-out landscape of stupid design decisions.

It is beautiful in its ugliness - I will cop to that.
It is beautiful in its ugliness – I will cop to that.

But maybe I am just ignorant to this whole game’s message. Maybe this is just how Russia operates. Maybe this game was an accurate representation of day-to-day Russian life: it is frustrating, filled with awkward sexual encounters, and dangerous to explore the irradiated surface without a gas mask. Maybe it is a just another reminder of how awesome America is. You know a good post-apocalyptic game? The Last of Us. You know where it takes place? America. That is no coincidence. Suck it, Putin. I am putin you, your country, and your country’s representative game in its place: back in the mail and to Gamefly’s headquarters because I am not ever playing this game again.