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One of the best multiplayer games of 2017, easily

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    superbobhead
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    Splatoon 2

    Rating: 4.5 – Outstanding

    One of the best multiplayer games of 2017, easily

    One of the summer’s biggest games has finally splashed in, giving the Switch another excellent title to add to it’s already growing library. While the original was highly regarded, the lower install base of the Wii U means a lot of people missed out on the first outing of the squid kids. With Nintendo’s new console already having a solid lineup with more games around the corner, does Splatoon 2 have what it takes to deserve a place in your collection or is it something to skip over until Super Mario Odyssey arrives this October?

    In a world full of hyper realistic or pixel art games, every single aspect of Splatoon 2 is dripping with a style that makes it stand out from the competition. From the moment you see the title screen and land in Inkopolis, the central hub area, you see a plaza full of other squid kids just like your player hanging out in the latest squid threads, a bunch of store fronts, and colors and graffiti that hasn’t been seen since the days of cel shading. Provided you have an online connection, these other kids represent other Splatoon 2 players and showcases art they have uploaded to the servers. I absolutely love the art style, character designs, and unique setting, but the one thing I’m not crazy for is the music. It fits the game and some of the tunes are kind of catchy, but it’s all a bit too different for me. It definitely fits with the tone of the game, but it’s not a major selling point and nothing strikes me as overly memorable.

    One of the first things that you will notice and either love or hate about the game is the controls. While the Joy-cons do have analog sticks and plenty of buttons, Splatoon 2 is a game where the community will vocally tell you that if you want to perform the best, you’re going to have to adjust to the motion controls. The button layout is reminiscent of almost every other shooter, the big thing you’ll notice is that by default, the right stick only lets you look left and right. If you want to look up and down, you have to move the right joycon, which allows for more precise aiming. You are able to shut this feature off, but aiming feels a bit too stiff once you practice with the motion controls.

    Unlike most shooters, Splatoon 2 isn’t completely dependent on the number of kills or how well you can snipe someone across the arena. While being able to effectively take out the enemy is a useful skill to have, the most important thing is spraying your ink across the ground to cover as much territory as possible. Another unique aspect of this series is when you hold ZL, you turn from a kid into a squid, which allows you to refill your ink, move faster, and to reach otherwise inaccessible areas. In online battles, this can help you either flank enemies or escape a rough situation as long as you’ve made sure you have your escape route still inked.

    If this all sounds a bit overwhelming or you aren’t a fan of competitive shooters, don’t worry. Splatoon 2 features a decent sized single player campaign, a totally awesome co-op mode, and the turf war mode offers something for players to do who aren’t going to log 20 hours a week into the game. The single player mode is accessed either by going to a drain in the Inkopolis square and holding ZL to drop into the new area. The entire thing consists of 5 areas and about 27 levels, with each section ending in a refreshingly creative boss fight. The single player campaign does have an entertaining but light story, which does a good job of keeping you engaged or smiling through the 8 or so hours it might take you to finish it for the first time. In order to keep the levels feeling fresh and keep you from getting to comfortable, the game does a great job of dropping you into a new level with a weapon you might not be comfortable with on the initial playthrough. You are able to revisit levels later with unlocked weapons to try to complete them faster or pick up hidden items you might have missed out on. It’s also worth mentioning that each of the single player levels, once you arrive in a new sector, you have to find the entrances and cover them in ink to access them. This does a great job of encouraging you to explore the sector and gives you a sense of discovery, but sometimes I wish the entrances were a bit more apparent, especially in the final sector of the game.

    The previously mentioned co-op mode, called Salmon Run, is Splatoon 2’s take on a horde mode. While the game doesn’t allow you to play the game in split screen, you can find a lobby online whenever Grizzco (the area that hosts Salmon Run) is open. Your goal is to survive 3 waves of increasing difficulty, collecting a specified number of eggs, all while keeping your team alive. Before playing the mode, hearing that it’s only 3 rounds sounds like it might be a bit too brief, but the game can get overwhelmingly tough in a short time, and your goal at the end of the day is to still try to survive the three waves and not holding out for 30+ minutes. One of the things that is also different is that each time Salmon Run is open, the game automatically assigns the four participating players new weapons, then has them cycle the weapons, so you are forced to change your tactics rapidly, which definitely helps in the tension and feeling of overwhelming odds stacked against you at any given moment. Luckily, you are able to revive your teammates by shooting them or tossing a grenade at where they died at, but if your whole teams goes down, that counts as a loss and you’re able to dust yourself off and try again.

    Lastly, the multiplayer is what’s going to keep most people coming back to this title probably throughout the Switch’s lifespan. At the moment, there are only 8 maps available, with 4 modes of play. When you’re first starting out online at level 1, you are only able to play Turf War, which is a mode where the goal is to cover the most territory within a 5 minute time limit. You are also restricted to using one weapon until you reach level 4. Personally, I wish you had access to a basic variant of each weapon, but the default starting weapon is highly effective once you learn how to use the controls and make the most of the abilities. As you play more, you earn money which you can use to purchase new weapons or clothing, the clothing all has different stats and abilities that you can use to boost your own playstyle, but never feels like it gives anyone a gigantic advantage over other players, unlike most other loadout heavy shooters.

    Once you reach level 10, you are able to participate in ranked battles. The biggest change in ranked is that Turf War is gone and you now get to play either Tower Control, Rainmaker, or Splat Zones. Splat Zones is similar to king of the hill, Rainmaker is essentially a single scoring Capture the Flag, and Tower Control is kind of like a payload mode from Overwatch or Team Fortress 2. These modes require you to use different tactics from how you approach Turf War and a huge change is that while you do have a 5 minute time limit, these games are often decided in 1-2 minutes. It’s also worth mentioning that while the there are 8 total maps in the game right now, you are only able to play 2 at a time in Turf War, Ranked, and League Battle, which is all dependent on time. It keeps things a bit more fresh and can also encourage you to take a break if a mode or map comes up that you don’t want to play on. These change every 2 hours and you are able to view them from the + menu or with the Nintendo mobile app.

    In a world full of hyper realistic or pixel art games, every single aspect of Splatoon 2 is dripping with a style that makes it stand out from the competition. From the moment you see the title screen and land in Inkopolis, the central hub area, you see a plaza full of other squid kids just like your player hanging out in the latest squid threads, a bunch of store fronts, and colors and graffiti that hasn’t been seen since the days of cel shading. Provided you have an online connection, these other kids represent other Splatoon 2 players and showcases art they have uploaded to the servers.

    Splatoon 2 is one of those games that is worth checking out if you’re looking for something that’s a bit different. If Breath of the Wild is finally wearing down for you and ARMS is a bit too competitive, it’s definitely worth a purchase. The single player campaign, while brief, is a ton of fun especially if you’re into unlocking all of the hidden items, enjoy trying to beat your fastest times, or you want to prepare yourself a bit before heading online. The addition of co-op Salmon Run gives people who want to play with others and not against them, and also has its own exclusive unlockable items that change over time. Let’s not forget about the excellent multiplayer suite, and while it is a bit of a downer that so much content is restricted until you level up or locked behind specific times, unlocking weapons and modes shouldn’t take you too long and allows you to get familiar with how each weapon and the basics work so you know what to be prepared for against better players.

    Rating:   4.5 – Outstanding

    Product Release: Splatoon 2 (US, 07/21/17)

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