Thursday, June 25, 2015

Press Start: Splatoon review

Paintball with squids! Or are they kids now?
Developers: Nintendo
Publishers: Nintendo
Genre: Third Person Shooter
Platforms: Wii U

Wow, another review about a game on my Top 10 Anticipated Games of 2015. When I made the list, Splatoon made number 7. However, as more details about the game leaked out, I grew more and more cautious. Sure, we got customizable loadouts, but we also got only 2 modes with five maps, with the rest being pushed back to be released later. Is there more to Splatoon than what the lack of modes suggest? Let’s find out.

Story and Concept
Inkopolis, the hub of the game. Here you can buy new gear, access multiplayer lobbies, and enter single player.
Splatoon takes place in a world inhabited by humanoid creatures known as Inklings, beings that can change into squids and can swim through ink. They are a race obsessed with fads and fashion, moving from one big thing to the next. In Splatoon’s single player, you play as a heroic Inkling working to foil an invasion of a vengeful race of Octolings. In the game’s multiplayer, you indulge in the latest fad in Inkopolis (home of the Inklings): Ink Battles. Also, there’s a cat named Judd. He’s cool.

Octo Valley, the single player mode.
As always, Nintendo’s creativity shines through in Splatoon. The world is very vibrant and creative, and has a surprising amount of depth if you collect the Sunken Scrolls in single player. However, the world of Splatoon does have one major drawback- it’s an open love letter to 90s culture. This wouldn’t be a problem, but here it feels forced and cheesy, feeling less like “remember the 90s?” and more like a parent's attempt to be cool. Its a creative world, but it’s also a cheesy one.

Graphics and Design
Graphics are not the most impressive thing in the world, but the colors easily make up for it.
The graphics of Splatoon are not the most impressive on the Wii U. Textures are simple, and character models are simple. However, this game makes up for that with its use of bright and vibrant colors. Not only is the game itself bright and colorful, but the colors of the ink used to cover territories sticks out in the best possible way. Splatoon may not be the best looking games on the Wii U, but perhaps it’s its most colorful.

Music and Sound

Splatoon is certainly unique when it comes to its sound design. The inhabitants of Inkopolis speak in gibberish that sounds like distorted, backwards Japanese. The music takes a similar direction, with vocals being garbled and distorted. The music itself covers all sorts of genres, but all sound like what Inkling teens would listen to. In a sense, you’re listening to Inkling pop. The sound design is very hit or miss, and while I personally love it, I can see why many others would not.

Single player is enjoyable, if not a brief experience.
While the main draw of Splatoon is its multiplayer, it does feature a pretty enjoyable single player. You play as an Inkling, stopping an army of Octolings as you use your weaponry and ability to swim through ink to progress through levels. The single player features some well designed levels (though they are prone to recycling challenges), and the boss fights can be fun, if not easy. The concept is short though, being 4 to 5 hours at best. It’s a fun ride, but in the end, you’ll breeze through it.

Gear gives your Inkling special abilities, allowing many ways to play.
The main attraction of Splatoon is its online multiplayer. Here, teams of four players battle each other in two modes: Turf War and Splat Zone. Turf War involves each team trying to cover as much of the map with their color ink in 3 minutes. Splat Zones have each team fighting over concentrated areas of the map. Playing matches nets you experience which is used to level up your Inkling. Leveling up allows you to unlock new weapons and clothing, the latter of which boosts your Inkling’s abilities.

Every second counts in Splatoon, especially in Turf War.
Splatoon’s multiplayer is a very fun, if not very flawed, experience. Matches are chaotic and hectic, yet at the same time it rewards skill and forward thinking. The wide customization options given to you through gear certainly helps make matches more interesting. Matches can be addicting, but they can also be frustrating, especially when one team is composed of players of much higher levels with much better gear, which happens more often than you think. Still, it’s hard for me to just play a few matches and be done given the frantic fun the matches bring.

However, Splatoon suffers from a major lack of content. As I’ve said, the single player mode is 5 hours at best, and the lack of maps in multiplayer means you could play the same stage multiple times before switching. You’ll run out of things to do pretty early on, and it all comes down to how much you enjoy playing online. Granted, Nintendo has been adding new maps ever since release, but the lack of content is still a huge problem.

Splatoon is a very creative game, from concept to sound to visuals. Its fast and frantic multiplayer is often great fun, but without much else to do, those not a fan of Splatoon’s style of gameplay will find it has little to offer. Had Splatoon been heavier on content, it would have been one of the Wii U’s best, but it still stands as a great experience.

7.5/10 - Really Good

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