“Stay off the Hook!”: Splatoon 2 Review

Posted in Kulturecade by - August 31, 2017
“Stay off the Hook!”: Splatoon 2 Review

If you aggregated all the reviews for the original Splatoon from back when it was launched in 2015, you’d probably find these bullet points common to the majority of them:

– Fun, unique gameplay that puts an interesting spin on the third-person multiplayer shooter genre.

– Great visuals, music and aesthetic style.

– Gyroscope controls take some getting used to.

– Fun singleplayer mode that should have been longer.

– Great multiplayer gameplay that is sorely lacking in maps and game modes at launch.

– Decent weapon variety, if somewhat lacking in quantity.

– Questionable Amiibo integration.

In the following months after launch, Splatoon’s content grew significantly with a persistent rollout of new maps, weapons, game modes and balance changes to keep players coming back every now and then to try out all the new stuff. A year or so after its launch, Splatoon’s multiplayer grew to become a thriving, content-rich experience that kept its community engaged all the way up to the announcement of Splatoon 2, alongside the Nintendo Switch.

Now that I’ve had my hands on Splatoon 2 for a month or so, I’d say that a lot of those bullet points used to describe the first game are still applicable to its sequel – with a few notable exceptions.

The gameplay is still uniquely fun and remains the series’ strongest feature. Sneaking into enemy territory and undermining their control of an area with your own paint is very satisfying, and swimming up to an enemy only to jump out and lay the smack down with a roller will always put a smile on my face. Who would have thought designing a team-based, third-person shooter where killing the enemy player as a secondary objective could be so engaging and competitive?

However the number of maps available to play at launch does feel underwhelming, and Nintendo’s annoying insistence of only having two maps available to play per hour makes an unwelcome return. I’m confident the map count will rise over the course of a few months, and if Nintendo supports Splatoon 2 in the same way they did the original, I’ll be happy to come back every few weeks to see what’s new.

There’s also a new multiplayer Horde mode called Salmon Run that’s been introduced with Splatoon 2. It’s actually quite a bit of fun, if not somewhat simplistic, and is a nice change of pace to the traditional multiplayer if you feel like mixing it up a bit. I didn’t get to play it with friends locally or online (as I don’t know anyone else over here with a Switch), which is probably a blessing because if I ever had to use the Switch Voice chat system I’d probably lose my mind (seriously, look it up if you want to see a design guide for terrible user-experience)

In terms of single player, a disappointingly short-lived campaign also carries over from the original game, with the main story only taking a little over 7 hours to complete. Much like the first game, the single player is a ton of fun with plenty of creative level and boss designs, but once again it’s too dang short. I would have liked to see double the number of levels and more cool unlocks to use in the multiplayer.

Another sticking point for many players of the first game was the difficulty of the control scheme – particularly the gyroscopic controls. The gyroscope controls make a return in Splatoon 2, however, there are now far more options for you to fine tune the level of gyro control that you want, and even separate options for docked versus undocked control configurations, which is an excellent quality-of-life design choice.

The fantastic visuals and radical aesthetic design makes a welcome return, as does the trippy pop-rock soundtrack that gives the franchise so much charm and personality. Some may consider the lack of differentiation between the aesthetics of the original and sequel a severe negative, but it doesn’t bother me at all. I love the design of the weapons and the gear, and it feels like there’s plenty more of both to unlock this time around, which is also a big plus.

That being said, the ability to unlock certain gear only by tapping different Amiibo is also annoyingly present in Splatoon 2. It rubbed me the wrong way in the original game, and every time I get splatted by someone in fully upgraded Ninja Gear, I get irrationally angry – but not angry enough to actually go out and buy an Amiibo myself.

If you can’t tell, I think Splatoon 2 feels more like a large DLC bundle to the original game than what I would expect from a sequel. The gameplay and visuals are borderline identical, and the only difference is in the gear, maps, game modes and single player content. Don’t get me wrong though, I think Splatoon 2 is well worth your time and money – particularly if you never played the original. It’s heaps of fun and a rather unique multiplayer experience that has kept me engaged and one that I see myself coming back to for months to come.

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He is a gaming staff writer for Kulture Shocked and the site’s unofficial southern hemisphere correspondent. When he’s not on the run from customs for importing Mortal Kombat games, you can find him slapping the bass in his Psych-Rock band Neptune Estate or enjoying the beautiful Queensland weather from the safety of his couch.
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