Splatoon Game Review
Ingenious game mechanics
Inventive single-player effort
Available yet deep
Can sense grindy at the early stages
About The Game
Every online shooter has its own honeymoon period, but it usually is not long until the cracks start showing. In some, these cracks are tiny and papered over by patches soon after discharge. In others, they are gaping flaws that require more radical improvements to tackle. While not a traditional online shooter, Splatoon game is no exception.
On the good news front, playing on live servers is far more enjoyable than playing with the pre-release code. Waits for games are very short indeed, while the netcode seems pretty stable. We have had strange games crash here and there, but nothing more, and in at least one instance we guess a rage quit. The Inkopolis hub has also become a more vibrant, lively location. It has always been a more intriguing way to purchase weapons and equipment than boring old menus, but now it seems just like a meeting place for the Splatoon community.
On the bad news front, having to work your way up to level 10 and above is not any less grindy than it had been in the pre-release edition, and the way in which the matchmaking system frequently sets you up with much more seasoned, better-equipped players could be infuriating. When a group of sub-level five players are matched against you with degree 13, 14, and 15 players, bearing primo kit, you need to wonder what’s happening.
Nor have our worries about weapon balance vanished. It is not that inklings armed with the Krak-On Splat Roller are unbeatable, but it sure takes a good deal of effort, and the quantity of ink you can slap down and the speed with which the specific weapons are unlocked makes them the largest threat in many games, followed quickly by large fire-rate Aerospray MG and Aerospray RG. Just Nintendo has the data to prove or disprove our suspicions, but anecdotal evidence suggests that the group with the most Krak-On Splat Rollers usually wins, unless — as regrettably sometimes happens — all four players come packaging them. This leaves the group too vulnerable to the scope.
Successful tactics are emerging. While we have fought with the charger weapons, we have seen some players making barbarous use of these from high ranks, while sneaky assassins popping up from squid form using a headshot are an increasing menace. Unfortunately, while this strategy nets you an impressive kill/death ratio, it does not usually get a great deal of ink on surfaces or win you matches. That’s fine if you are working with a crack team of Krak-On specialist, but not so much if not.
Splatoon’s biggest problem, however, remains repetition. Restricting Battle Mode and Ranked Mode to 2 maps apiece soon gets boring as soon as you’ve been playing for an hour, and there is just not enough interest or number in the maps. People have been calling Splatoon the Mario Kart of shooters, but where Mario Kart shines in its roster of racers and exciting, identifying, event-filled paths, Splatoon struggles.
A scarcity of distinct game modes does not help either. Ranked Battle’s Splat Zone has a very different feel from the fundamental Turf Wars. Together with attention focussed on painting two conspicuous zones, ranged weapons and especially Charger weapons develop more useful, while roller guns lose their dominance. Unfortunately, if anything it is more insistent than Turf Wars; a series of firefights staged in two small regions of the map, where both teams spend half their time scrapping for higher ground.
Which leads us to the biggest issue. At this time, we are getting bored of Splatoon gameplay. We are not sure we have the attention or the excitement to level up, rank up, get new equipment or return for more. It might be that we are alone in this, but we guess that is not true. And this is hugely frustrating.
Splatoon is an amazing concept with fantastic core mechanics and Nintendo’s usual genius when it comes to visuals, scene setting, and demonstration. It is incredibly close to getting the Mario Kart of Shooters that some people today seem to believe it is. Yet without more maps, a less restrictive approach, and much more inventive game modes, it may not hold our attention for more than a couple of weeks. Bearing this in mind, we are downgrading the score to 7 till Splatoon is more completely fleshed-out. More information should be on its way this summer, and we only hope that addresses our concerns.
This all makes Splatoon a more, well, fluid game that nearly all online shooters. Standing still and sniping with a billed squirter — the game’s equivalent of a gun — will get you approximately nowhere unless you are also using your position to defend your zone and then spread some ink. An attack on an enemy position only works if you are going to splatter brightly colored fluids on your way.
Ink is the lifeblood of Splatoon in more ways than one. Inklings can transform into squid shape and move quickly through pools and flows of their own colored ink. While in squid form they are camouflaged, and they also replenish their spent ink. Meanwhile, enemy ink causes harm, killing you in case you remain in touch for too long. When you blaze a trail of ink through enemy territory you are not only gaining ground but creating a route by which others may follow. After the enemy covers choke points in ink, meanwhile, they are possibly cutting you off from home and backup.
Splatoon is available, with easy controls and easily-understood objectives, but there is a layer of strategy and skill lurking under its super-saturated palette. Dominating the territory, making strategic incursions, playing as a team and assessing the map on the Wii U GamePad are all crucial to getting routine wins, as will getting to grips with the more advanced controls and motion choices. Utilizing movement controls for precision aiming takes getting used to, but as soon as you do it is a definite plus.
Initially, your weapons are rather basic — an easy rapid-fire squirter and an ink grenade. Playing nicely wins you experience points and money, unlocking new tiers of weapons, plus clothing, shoes, and hats with many different perks, a few useful straight away, others unlocked by playing with the item equipped. All of this stuff can be bought in the stores of Splatoon’s Inkopolis hub together with your hard-won money. To make things more complicated, each weapon comes as part of a set with a distinct secondary weapon — a new grenade, sticky-bomb, heavy weapon or ink sprayer — and a special weapon that can only be unleashed as soon as you fill up a gauge. Spread enough ink, get enough kills and prevent dying, and you’ll be able to dish out tornadoes or enormous blasts of ink, each one capable of turning around a game in seconds.
The weapons are as ingenious as everything else. Some simply offer more harm and a quicker rate-of-fire than the conventional squirter, but others behave like shotguns, sniper rifles or — a favorite hit — an enormous paint-roller. The latter could be hustled around the stadium, splatting any foe who has caught in the manner or even wielded as a close-quarters melee weapon to get a searchable splatting. Early on, the rollers may seem overpowered, but learn to maneuver them around, keep blasting and do not panic, and you will quickly develop strategies to counter the rolling menace.
While you’re at it, you will want to work on your moves. As we mentioned in the trailer, Splatoon is as much about traversal as pure shooting. In squid form, you can slide up and along vertical surfaces, jump from platform to platform and build up high-speed jumps from ramps. You may even proceed through chain link fences and net platforms, assisting you to get around the stadium at high speed.
The best way to learn your moves is through the single-player effort; a much more accomplished effort than you may suspect. It puts you at the support of the crazed Captain Cuttlefish as he prepares to defend Inkopolis against the wicked plans of the sinister Octopodes. While the narrative is paper-thin, the effort goes much farther than a collection of idle AI skirmishes. In actuality, it’s closer to a platform-shooter than a shooter, forcing you to reach and save a captive zap fish by navigating a series of floating platforms and mechanics, dispatching any Octopodes that stand in your way.
Like most of Nintendo’s best games, the effort constantly drip-feeds in fresh enemies, challenges, and mechanics, giving you an opportunity to get used to everyone before rolling them to harder configurations. Moving and rotating platforms, expanding and contracting ink sponges, imperceptible walkways, inky railings and patrolling squirters all have to be mastered, along with some large, colorful end-of-area bosses. The worlds may lack the theming and magic of a Super Mario 3D Land, but there is no shortage of invention here. In reality, it is a shame that more of this effort’s ingenious mechanisms did not make it over to the multiplayer game’s maps.
There is nothing wrong with these; they are well-designed and filled with open spaces, higher floor, tight choke points and sneaky paths. From skate parks to oil rigs to shopping malls and industrial zones, they are excellent for showcasing your ink-swimming, wall-crawling, jumping skills. However, there is not really that much to distinguish one from another pub some fairly basic theming. And with just two in the rotation for each of the principal Battle and Ranked Battle modes on any day, repeat can wear thin over longer periods.
In actuality, in its early phases, Splatoon can be something that I never expected — a tiny grind. You see, in the primary Battle mode you are stuck with a single mode — the fundamental Turf War — and the Ranked Battle manner, with additional game modes, does not kick in until you hit level 10. In the pre-release stage, we have also found that you will be matched with players of a far higher degree, with better equipment, better perks, and much more experience.
This is not a problem if you find yourself on a winning team, where the bonus for winning will see you take up levels fairly quickly, but you may wind up with novice players fighting against a team that is tough, and here the experience points all but crawls through. If that’s true, you’ve only got one option: keep playing, do the best you can and buy more equipment and weapons when you’re able. Here, playing with the single-player effort as aid, not only making you more eloquent in the game’s controls and systems but unlocking patterns for new weapons which you could then purchase in the weapon shop.
Ranked Battle mode guarantees more, with one additional game style — a domination-style version named Splat Zone — available at launch and extra modes to be published in the weeks after. Meanwhile, new Splatoon Amiibos are put to unlock extra challenge levels, though without one of those toys at the time of writing we have yet to provide these a try.
In order to have more insight into this game, you can watch this video from the following link:
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