August 04, 2017

Splatoon 2 - Review

Splatoon 2 was a game I did not think we would see right away, I honestly thought that the series would get the Deluxe treatment and that a true sequel would be months away, well I was kind of right.

Splatoon 2 is broken up into three game modes, single player, horde mode and standard multiplayer, well standard for Splatoon at least and while the horde mode, called Salmon Run is a cool addition, the rest feel like they were lifted from the first game. Each of the original games modes have been plused up here, but only in the addition of new maps and such, the core content is identical. Single player wise, the biggest change is that the length of the single player story is now much, much longer, previously what was a short 2-hour tutorial has now hit double digits, if you want to collect everything and thanks to the game forcing weapon changes upon you, even repeating levels is fun.

This time, the great Zapfish is missing, which was the reason behind the single player content in the first game, but this time Marie is missing as well, so Callie asks for your help in getting back the great Zapfish and locating Marie, the premise is basic, but it gives you a reason to venture out into the voids, where each level is contained. Exploring the worlds, where each of the levels entrances is located can be fun, the zones get more and more complex as you get further in and sometimes discovering the location of a level and working out how to get to it is more fun than the level you enter. The biggest problem with the single player content is that after the first 10 or so levels, they tend not to deliver anything different, and while the game will deliver some new weapons, it gets pretty stale.

The biggest portion of the game can be found in multiplayer and for good reason, that is where you will discover the best parts of the game. The game starts you out slow and until you reach level 4, you can’t customise your character, you can unlock new weapons at level 1, if you have the cash, but for the most part, level 4 is where you need to be. Once you hit level 10 though, you can unlock Ranked battle and that also opens more game modes, which is a shame. Turf War is the basic mode and the one you will spend the bulk of your time in, covering the ground in your teams’ ink never gets old and with the mix of weapon types, sub weapons and specials, each player can attack the objective in however they choose. The other game modes are similar, but offered a more focused area to control, opposed to the entire map, but until you reach level 10 they are excluded.

Salmon run is the only new mode to come to the game and it has you teaming up with three other players, to survive wave after wave of enemies, as you attempt to collect as many eggs as you can. As you progress through each wave, more and more enemies will emerge from all around you, pushing you around, in the later difficulty it becomes a nightmare and something you need to play with a solid team. Sadly the mode repeats a lot, so the real value comes down to who you play with, rather than what you are playing, but as a change of pace from the standard multiplayer, it is a welcome addition. Salmon Run has the same map, but with the variation on the waves and difficulty settings, you will likely not get board of it, so far the maps in Multiplayer are varied enough, from the new and old, to keep things fresh. Not being able to select your favourite map to play on, even if you are doing it with friends, is a pain and something Nintendo should have fixed. The game also has not fixed the fact, that while you are in a lobby, waiting for other players to join, you can’t leave and if you quit the game, or turn your Switch off, you get told off when you come back online. Swapping out your gear is easy enough, but again, you are unable to do that whilst in a lobby, something that other games have allowed you to do for years now.

My biggest issue with the game is actually two different things, first up is the game has a ridiculous hold on you, each and every time you load into the game, you are forced to watch as Pearl and Marina, the two new hosts talk about something random for a moment, before they then list all the different stages, across regular, ranked and league battles. As someone who enjoys the single player more, being forced to watch that, every time, it grates on my nerves something shocking, Nintendo acknowledged an issue with the shop keepers, specifically Sheldon and let you speed that up, but not this. The other issue I have with the game is the lack of different content between the two games, while the maps in multiplayer are new, some are not and while the single player is all new levels, the ideas and aims are identical. Whatever Splatoon 2 was meant to be, it feels more like an expansion to the original title than it does a wholly new experience.

Presentation wise, the game holds itself up to a new standard, there are times when things feel cheap, like in the single player levels. The game has done an amazing job of building the world up, walking around the plaza looks like a real place, but with how static the other people appear, it feels dead. The single player levels are all interesting enough, but given that you are for some reason, suspended in a giant void over nothing and then bounding all around the place, there is a distinct disconnect between your actions and the world as a whole. The number of clothing options available is large enough that in all my time, I have not encountered anyone with the same outfit on, similar, but not the same. The music falls into the same category as the rest of the content, it’s still fun and infectious, however it sounds very like that of the first game, which means if you were not a fan, you will likely grow tired of it here as well.

Splatoon 2 is more of the same and for some people that is enough, however for me it falls way short of what I expect from a sequel and sadly it’s made worse when you consider that none of the mistakes that Nintendo made with the first game have been fixed here.

Thanks to Nintendo Australia for supplying the game for review

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