Saturday 2 September 2017

Splatoon 2 ★★★★☆

Set two years after the events of the first game, you’re hired and sent into the Octo Canyon in search of Callie and the Great Zapfish, who’ve gone missing. The story of Splatoon 2 takes place within Hero Mode. Its level design is reminiscent of Mario Galaxy's, linear, level structure. Each level is broken down into smaller sections and puzzles, to goop past, and then you blast to the next section... until you reach the end.

Boss designs are fairly bizarre and creative. Fighting a stack of bread ovens wasn't something I thought I'd ever write about... but here we are and I’m not complaining. The battles themselves follow all game boss logic. Learn the boss's attack patterns and weakness. Hit it three times and boom, no more boss.

The Switch's Gyro is the recommended default control option. Instinctively I wanted to play using twin stick method, coming in from shooters such as Battlefield, the gyro felt very unnatural to me at first but it didn't take too long to adjust to and fits well with the gameplay style.

Inkopolis Plaza acts as your main hub of the game, from which you have access all the game modes. Other player's Inkling avatars occupy the Plaza as interactive NPCs (non player characters). You can add pictures to your profile which are viewable to other players. A few players have managed to make some crazy artwork.

Turf War functions as the main online mode. This is where you'll spend most of your time.
You're given an allotted amount of time to cover as much of the stage with your teams coloured ink as possible while fighting back the opposing team. Weapon choice plays a big strategic role. You're also very dependant on your team mates, If one of them is idle and not helping out, you're going to lose. Don’t be that guy. Leveling up online unlocks more items and weapons, in the stores, so you're always playing towards something new. Frustratingly, you can't change loadouts between games without leaving the lobby first.

Bizarrely, modes and levels are stuck behind a time lock. You only ever have two stages available to you, to play on, which are on a timed rotation and will be switched out during certain times of day. Annoyingly, Splatoon 2’s new mode Salmon Run, a kind of Horde mode with fish eggs, is also only available during certain times of day. So if you miss it, you've missed out. The good side to this is that it insures there're plenty of people to play with, while it's available.

Nintendo's online service is currently free but they do plan to start charging for it by the end of the year. I had a lot of connection issues while trying to find matches online. It's early days so hopefully this will be fixed in an update sooner rather than later. Voice chat is a bit backwards intuitive. It requires a phone app and an adapter that goes between your phone, the headset and the switch. Everyone would be better off just using something like Discord.

Once you reach level 10 you unlock Ranked Battle, giving you access to new match types.
It's a little odd that these are locked behind a level cap but it does mean that the people playing these modes know what they're doing... but they do get a little funny about it if you don’t play your part “correctly”.

Having never owned a Wii U, like most people, I didn't get to play much of the first Splatoon. Only the small amount at a friends house. The Switch has given the series a second chance, which is good for those of us who missed out. Not so great for those who played the first game as there’s not much new here. Nintendo are good at re-selling you the same games over and over, it's been their business model for the last 20 years. Sometimes that's a good thing. Splatoon 2 is fun and easy to pick up but hard to master... and a nightmare for anyone with OCD.

Bry Wyatt

Splatoon 2 at CeX

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