Developer: Nintendo EPD
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Category: Action, First Person & Multiplayer
Release Date: 21st of July, 2017 (Worldwide)
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Since it’s reveal back in January, Splatoon 2 was a game that took us all by surprise. Splatoon fans were expecting a Switch port, not a full on sequel and yet the latter was exactly what we would receive and now after months of news drops, teases and playable demos, Splatoon 2 is available worldwide, but does it live up to the legacy Splatoon gave life to?
To even begin to answer that question, we have to start right at the beginning, which means we need to start with the game that started a series. Developed for the Wii U and released Worldwide in May, Splatoon was the all new third-person shooter game developed by Nintendo’s Entertainment Analysis & Development division that made such an “inkredible” impact on the gaming scene. It was a bold move on Nintendo’s part and even though it lacked private lobbies, voice chat and had terrible online match-making in the very early days, the gamble paid off as Splatoon became one of the Wii U’s best-selling games.
But it wasn’t just the game that made Splatoon such an iconic hit. Sure its chosen art style, utilised gameplay mechanics, and bizarre choice of a soundtrack did go down well with the Wii U community, but what really made Splatoon stand out was by how much of an effort Nintendo put into it. Free content such as weapons was constantly added. Regular contests known as Splatfests were hosted and but also the characters of Splatoon were endeared to us, characters like the Inklings Callie and Marie, who would host all manner of news within the game and went on to be pop stars in a video game to actual pop stars who have since had concerts in Japan and France.
Nintendo didn’t just create a game that was a unique take on the shooter genre, they created a game that grew wings and flew to the heavens. A game that really raised the bar for any potential sequel and you know what, Splatoon 2 is everything you could possibly want from a sequel to what has become a legacy. It has exactly the same charm and allure that made its predecessor a hit, but instead of being a carbon copy just on a different console, it is a game that took everything that made the first game great even better and improved the things that was wrong with the first game. For example, there are now private lobbies for players who wish to play with friends and there is voice chat. Only in order for voice chat to work, you have to use an app. The Nintendo Switch Online app and access SplatNet 2 and do all the voice chat through there.
It is not a perfect system, as headphones are required as well and voice chat does drain the phone battery very quickly as you will need to be connected to the internet the entire time just to talk to your friend, and your phone has to on and alert for the entire duration as it going to sleep or you accessing another app will cease the voice chat, but yes voice chat is present nonetheless.
But let us move away from the game’s faults for a moment and talk about the many things Splatoon 2 does right. For starters as nice as hub was for the first game, Splatoon 2 has an entirely new hub area, which is ten times better than the last one and has plenty of areas for the player to visits. For example there is the Galleria, where players can visit various shops to purchases things like footwear, headwear and all manner of short and long-sleeved T-shirts. Only don’t go expecting to be able to buy anything from the get-go as you will need to have earned some in-game currency, to be connected to the internet to even get anything from the shop and you’ll need to have battled online a couple of times to raise your rank up from 1 to 4. (For anyone who has just picked up the game, this is a must as Dualies can be purchased at Rank 4.)
The new hub, aka Inkopolis Square is also home to The Shoal, the place to go for anyone who is looking to do some wireless local play in the form of private battles and Salmon Run. There is also the likes of a familiar face (Crusty Sean), who has since shut up his shoe shop, in an effort to instead own his very own food truck, which provided you have the right tickets to pay him with, can see your Inklin fed with a meal that will either boost EXP gain for 20 matches when playing online, or increasing the number of gold you get. There’s also an amiibo box, where if you visit it, you can use any of the old and new Splatoon amiibo to get free gear and even save your Inkling’s load-out so that if you go over to a friend’s house, you can just take your amiibo with you to use said load-out.
But the biggest change in how Inkopolis Square differs is the fact that so many faces from the first game have either gone completely, or their role has now been changed. For example, Judd the cat would give you coins depending on how you faired when playing online and would give you advice, whereas now he just gives you advice. Spike is gone and replaced by Murch, a Sea Urchin who does everything Spike did like letting you see gear belonging to other Inklings and selling it to you provided you’ve ordered it in, but he’ll also let you use Ability Chunks to give specific abilities to specific pieces of clothing and reroll the dice. But just like Spike, the Squid Sisters, Callie and Marie have also been replaced by Off the Hook’s Pearl and Marina. Why get rid of the Squid Sisters and replace them with another double act to cover the news? Well it’s something that’s had to be done in order to make the story work and since I have yet to even cover the story and Hero Mode, it is very much so time to do that!
Set 2 years after the events of the first game, Inkopolis is about to see history repeat itself as once again the Great Zapfish has been kidnapped, only it’s not the only thing that has vanished for Callie has disappeared also. Worried for her cousin’s safety, and knowing full well that the Octarians are back, Marie is now the last line of defence as her grandfather and Agent 3 of the New Squidbeak Splatoon are off elsewhere, which means it’s time to recruit an Agent 4. Naturally Agent 4 is you, the player and if you played through Hero Mode in Splatoon on Wii U, get ready for more of the same, but a lot more of it!
There are plenty of Octarians who need splatting, but in order to find them their levels will need to be found first, but once you have failed them, you will need to clear each level in the various sectors (5) and the levels aren’t that much different to what they’ve seen before. Or are they? I don’t mean to mess with you, but although the levels are now more elaborate, longer and better thought out, they are still the same as before as you are required to make our way from one end of the level to the other to save a Zapfish and find the hidden scrolls that are discoverable on every level except the Boss Battles. (While not necessary to find every scroll and sticker Hero Mode has to offer, they do reveal more about what has gone on since Splatoon ending and Splatoon 2 begins.)
There are also a collectable called Sardinium, which can be found on every level and are just as vital as the Power Eggs you’ll collect by killing enemies as the two can go hand in hand in levelling up your equipment and buying new bombs. But the biggest game changer as far as Hero Mode is concerned, is the fact that besides it now being much larger and requiring almost twice the time Splatoon’s Hero Mode required to play through the whole thing just once, is that players are no longer limited to using just one set of weapons. Why is this?
Well, Ammo Knights Sheldon is all too happy to loan you various new weapons for field research so he can manufacture retail versions. Although when I say it like that, it sounds a bit boring so here’s it another way, Hero Mode can now played in a much different way as every weapon class can be used to complete the levels and with each one having its own way of functioning, what was once an easy level to play though is hard, as the Roller is not quite the same as the Dualies. But long story short, Hero Mode has been completely revised and has a hell of a lot more to do and experience, even if it is just more of the same as what we had before, but just more of it. Plus it has insanely good credits to watch when the whole thing is over, which does justify yet another flimsy story that is a tad too on the nose of the first game.
Still, Splatoon’s popularity has never been down to its Hero Mode, as the only mode of play that ever really matters with a shooting game, is its online functions, so let’s talk about that. Turf Wars, the battle where 2 teams of 4 are pitted against each other in a bid to see who can ink the most turf wins is back and there are plenty more levels to play through this time around as Splatoon 2 comes packed with 8 stages instead of Splatoon’s original 5. The stages are also bigger, better and more creative than ever and you won’t have to worry about then getting stale like they did with Splatoon, as stages are now rotated every 2 hours instead of 4. But if mindlessly inking it up isn’t what you’re after, there are Ranked Battles and League Battles for players to try their hand at (once they reach the required unlock ranks of course.)
However if splattering Octarians, Inklings and Octolings (whom can also wield various weapon sets now,) is not to your liking than forget about Hero Mode and the main online stuff as Salmon Run might be more to your liking instead. Described as being a “part-time job” for Inklings looking to earn a bit more coin, Salmon Run is an entirely new mode is one of the things that makes Splatoon 2 shine as a true sequel. It’s not an after-thought that was added in just so Splatoon 2 has a new feature to boast about, but it is a completely different way to play as it features new rules, a new kind of enemies called “Salmonids.” Worst yet, Salmonids come in many forms, with many types of Salmonid Bosses that all require a different way to beat them. For instance the Scrapper Salmonid Boss is a deadly mechanised sniper that requires you to take out its cookware to kill it.
As for the actual goal of Salmon Run, there are 3 Waves, with each one lasting 100 seconds and the guy who is running it all, a Mr. Grizz, aka head of Grizzco Industries, needs you to collect a certain number of Golden Eggs to meet your quota, only to get the Golden Eggs, you’re required to take out Salmonid Bosses and then get the eggs back to the basket before the smaller Salmonids can get them and run away with them. Still the good news is you don’t have to do this alone as you can either play with friends, or random players online, but Salmon Run is only available at certain times a day as it is more a daily event as opposed to full on mode you can play all day long.
Despite everything Splatoon 2 does right, which includes running at 1080p (only dropping to 720p when in handheld mode,) at 60 FPS, and support for LAN Play that allows for 10 docked systems to connect (8 players and 2 spectators,) Splatoon 2 still lacks players being able to swap out their gear between matches, which means if you want to change something, you have to leave the entire lobby just to do so. Also the worth of the new map system is debatable, as although it is easier to view, when viewing, it does take away from the experience and could see you getting splatted from behind, but at the end of the day, they are just minor details that only slightly diminish Splatoon 2’s true worth! The only actual thing I don’t like about it, is the fact that Nintendo didn’t capitalize on the whole 2 aspect. Yes there are the Dualies, but why not a co-op play Hero Mode? That would have been fun little twist, but it is what it is and Splatoon 2 is a very good game and does most things fantastically.
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Being as though it is a sequel, what Splatoon 2 lacks in original freshness like Splatoon had upon its own release, it more than makes up for it thanks to the addition of new content, new modes, enhanced graphics and of course the general expanding of everything that made the first game so great. It is the sequel fans have been asking for the result of a great job well done on Nintendo’s part as they have once again brought a formidable third-person shooter game to the market and it is the only third-person shooter game players will need until the release of a Splatoon 3.
THE VERDICT: 9/10