Friday, July 24, 2015

Splatoon: An in-depth review


11 Weapons. 4 Maps. 3 Amiibo. 2 Match Types. 2 Splatfests, 1 Campaign, and over 200 hours later by DrFeelGood

Well here we are. An in-depth review of one of the most controversial games of the 8th generation. Its been a while since my impressions review before the game’s release. While there are those that say they will wait until the full game comes out, I say it’s their loss.

For those that know nothing about and/or do not follow gaming, Splatoon is a 3rd person shooter that released on May 29th developed and published by Nintendo exclusively for the Wii U. It sold over 1M units in less than a month. It is rated E for Everyone. Think about that. A shooter…that anyone…can play. The focus is covering the most turf with your team’s ink which doubles as your ultimate weapon and defense. This game possesses the same flair and addiction that Mario Kart and SSB has. Easy to pick up, understand, play, and enjoy. However, it is hard to master. Whats worse is that it is impossible to put down. Don’t believe me? Ask anyone who owns the game. Hell, ask my wife…or me. That 200 hours in the title is my total playtime as of recent. Keep in mind that I do have a social life, fulltime job, and responsibilities…not to mention my own business. In this game, you can be victorious even if you never lay eyes upon or splat any opponent. In fact, avoiding confrontation is essentially encouraged. It is literally the videogame version of paintball with a twist.

In terms of content, many will say that it Splatoon was lacking…especially at launch. However, lets look at things objectively. The game launched with 5 maps, 1 campaign tons of preset weapon loadouts, tons of gear, and one play mode being Turf War. That being said, I would have to agree…objectively. As the days and weeks have gone by, Nintendo has unlocked and/or added various content on a consistent basis from maps and modes to weapons and events. Within launch weekend, the Ranked mode was unlocked which is basically all or nothing. You either earn big winnings while also increasing in rank or lose which gets you nothing at all and a decrease in rank. The current match types available in Ranked Mode are Splatzones and Tower Control. Splatzones require that your team ink and maintain control of specific zones on a map. The team that maintains control the longest wins. Meanwhile, Tower Control requires that you ride a tower directly to the enemy base. The team that rides the tower the furthest towards their opponents base wins. In this mode, inking turf is not needed. Be warned, both these modes basically force all 8 players to a specific area which results in a Splatfest. Pun intended. Speaking of Splatfest as mentioned in the title, there have been two thus far. It is a 24-hour worldwide special event that everyone HAS to play if they want to play the game online during the specified timeframe. Nintendo asks everyone to vote for their preference and it varies by region. In North America, the first was Cats vs Dogs and the second was Roller Coasters vs Water Slides. In Europe, I believe the first Splatfest was Rop vs Pop.

It is the only game which brings everyone together for a common goal through a cool event theme. With all this, there is still more to come as many players are looking forward to the August update which according to Nintendo should add custom matches and allow friends to team up…among other things.

Before anyone jumps down my throat, know that I have played and invested tons of hours in many shooters…from COD and Battlefield to Halo and Gears of War. Having said that, the weapons and loadouts in Splatoon are the most diverse and balanced of any shooter I have played…EVER. The shooters are the assault rifles made for those who like versatility and love to spray and pray. The chargers are the sniper rifles made for those who love splat from a distance. Lastly, we have the rollers which are basically the shotguns/melee weapons. Those that love to be up close and personal while delivering a single decisive blow will feel right at home. No weapon is overpowered and no loadout is superior. In Splatoon, I can say that I have seen the use of every loadout available. I can say that I personally tried all of them. I can say that with each loadout, I have found myself in both advantageous and disadvantageous scenarios. The sub and special weapons are even more varied and suit any playstyle. If you like to camp (yes camping is possible in this game. I still do it), the ink mine is for you. If you like to lob grenades, you have 3 options: instant detonation, delayed, and sticky. If you like to pressure your opponents, the disruptor is the way to go. As for the special weapons, there is something for everyone. From inkzookas and ink strikes to krakens and killer wails (yes I spelled it correctly), they are all extremely powerful and/or useful. However, the million dollar question is does it come bundled with your preferred weapon? Why? Because the preset loadouts in Splatoon consist of main, sub, and special weapons which cannot be customized. Although frustrating, it creates balance. Some think that the inability to customize your loadout is stupid. Lets examine the game to which Splatoon is most similar…COD. In COD, you can choose your perks, weapon, sub-weapon, and killstreaks. Being objective, I am sure we call all agree that most players online in other popular shooters use similar weapons and loadouts even though they have the option to customize. Most people pick what is obviously the most efficient and most times, it creates imbalance. For example, In MW2, most people used Ninja, Cold Blooded, and Stopping Power. Each weapon, sub, and special needs to be just as useful as the others and Splatoon does this successfully.

Next up is the gear. They contain the abilities (perks) that augment your weapons, subs, or inkling. Each piece of gear has one primary perk and can have up to 3 sub perks. The primary yields the greatest benefit compared to the sub perks. The great, but frustrating thing about the gear is that you cannot choose which perks you want…at least not completely. Why is it great? Because it balances the game. Why is it frustrating? Because you typically cannot have the gear you want with the perks you desire. Why? Because the primary perk cannot be altered or transferred and the sub perks are completely randomized. For example, I love the Red Timberland boots, but I do not like the main perk. I have 2 options: loadout efficiency or preferred fashion. Do I wear what I believe is fashionable or wear the samurai outfit with a pair of Chucks and a football helmet which greatly augments my preferred loadout? Now you do have the ability to re-roll the sub perks for 3 more random sub perks, but that costs tons of in-game currency or a super sea shell which currently can only be won via special events. Let me tell you that I have spent over $100K re-rolling perks on a single piece of gear only to get more bullshit I did not want or care for. However, this prevents players from creating overpowered sets of gear. Another great addition is the fact that any duplicate perks yield smaller benefits, so stacking identical perks does not yield great benefits. Law of diminishing returns.

Lets talk multiplayer. The game currently has 9 maps to play on and more are coming. If you include the slight variations of those maps in Ranked Battle, you could say it technically has more. Although they may appear to be tailored to specific loadouts and playstyles, I have found myself splattered by someone who used a loadout many players would think is ill-suited for that particular map. Just saying. The strategies are almost limitless…unlike other shooters and are determined by the mode you are playing. I can honestly say that I do not dislike any of the maps. Of course I have preferences, but I enjoy all the maps. The maps change every 4 hours and both modes get their own maps meaning no map in the current rotation will be available in both modes. There are some that do not like the map rotation and I can agree to a certain extent. However, I can understand why Nintendo chose to do it. With there only being 5 maps initially, I think some would grow tired of the online multiplayer quickly. You would see all the maps many times over. This way, it keeps the game “fresh.” It gives everyone equal time to take advantage of, learn, and play the maps. It keeps everyone on the same page. Technically, I am sure it keeps server stress to a minimum. I do however hope they add a third map to the rotation. Nintendo, I hope you are listening. Although there are not many maps even now, no match is ever the same. You can dominate one match and get demolished immediately after. The tide of battle can change at any time. You can literally control the entire match and lose in the last 10 seconds. All it takes it one person and/or mistake. This goes for both Turf War and Ranked Battle. In this game, upsets and comebacks are common…so much so that you are encouraged to give it your all until the timer stops or the match is over. I have literally lost many Turf Wars by 0.1%. I have also been 1 point away from winning in Ranked Battle early in the match only to lose later on. Such scenarios turn even the most disciplined and reserved players into raging sailor mouths. Thank goodness there is no voice chat as everyone online would be banned.

The campaign is loads of fun. Think of it as a tutorial for online play. I recommend completing it BEFORE playing the online multiplayer. It truly teaches you many techniques that are crucial to playing competitively. From beginner moves such as squid jumping to advanced tactics such as bomb throw to jump shooting, you will be pretty good when you play online. As you would expect from Nintendo, it starts out easy and then the difficulty spikes relatively quick. Finding the weakness of every boss is easy although exploiting it can be tough. The best part about the campaign is that you unlock additional content as you complete the various levels. How long has it been since games allowed you to unlock content rather than paying for it? Heads up: the final boss is probably the best of any Nintendo platformer in history.

Using the amiibo, you can unlock even more content within Splatoon’s campaign to use in online multiplayer. The best thing about it is that content you earn is not overpowered, but definitely not worthless. Each Splatoon based amiibo has an exclusive set of gear for you to earn. It basically has you playing some of the campaign levels again with either a different weapon or parameters/goals. For some, it adds a whole new challenge to the campaign and extends it in a sense. I will not spoil all the exclusive amiibo content, but I find it worthwhile.

As a side note, Splatoon’s utilization of Miiverse is the best in my opinion. It has its own in-game plaza known as Inkopolis which is similar to Warawara Plaza. You will see various inklings of players walking about interacting with each other or doing their own thing such as talking, dancing, or just straight up chillin. Each is wearing the currently equipped gear the player has on their inkling. You can also see their most recent Miiverse post. What’s more is that you can interact with all of them…either giving a “yeah” to their post or scoping out their gear. If you like what you see, you can even order it. Nintendo also places various Miiverse post artwork throughout the plaza and multiplayer maps. Whether you take notice during Turf War is a different story. Its even more noticeable in the plaza during Splatfest.

Looking at how fun, accessible, and addictive Splatoon it is definitely my game of the year. I honestly have not had this much fun in years…if ever. Add to that the amount of content Nintendo continues to provide and you have a game that is definitely worth full price despite its absent features. Nintendo has taken a stale genre and completely turned it on its head. It is THE game of this generation for there is nothing else like it. So…ARE YOU A SQUID NOW or A KID NOW?

Post by Dr. Feel Good
YouTube: Dr. Feel Good Channel

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