REVIEW: Splatoon

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I’ve never had a good relationship with console FPS games in the past. Popular ‘brofests’ such as Halo and Call of Duty never did a whole lot for me… especially when considering how clunky aiming is with analogue sticks when compared to a good ol’ mouse and keyboard. But I hoped Splatoon would change all this.

splatoon_box_artBeing the first original Nintendo franchise in a decade and a half (no, really), I received my copy of Splatoon and all three Amiibos with high hopes. Could Nintendo do the same for shoot ’em ups as they did for the racing genre with Mario Kart? Here’s the low-down:

Pros:

  • The gyroscopic controls are a Godsend for console shooters… just be prepared to feel like you’re using a dinner plate to control your own head movements until it becomes second nature.
  • Online games are quick with little downtime. I’ve got a lot of experience playing CounterStrike 1.5 back in the day, and probably spent at least 40% of my time dead and waiting to respawn in the next round. In Splatoon, you’ll respawn in about 3 seconds flat and can even jump to other team mates, skipping the walk of shame back to your previous position.
  • It’s one of the most modern, non-linear game structures I’ve ever experienced. Single player mode and online battles are intertwined, not separate. Single player mode earns you currency that can be spent to pimp out your online toon, giving the player a real reason to actually bother playing it. You choose what mode you wanna play, when you wanna play it.
  • Customisation of your toon is boundless. With tons of ‘fresh’ beanies, caps, tees and kicks that all have epic upgrade options, you can really gear your toon towards any deadly speciality that you desire. Plus, you’ll also look pretty badass (or just Japanese) in the process.

Cons:

  • Splatoon doesn’t hesitate to throw you in at the deep end. After a short tutorial, you’re left to your own devices when any newbie should clearly be starting with single player mode first… You’re basically encouraged to start with online battles (hell, the single player is down a bloody sewer and online battles are in a massive, unmissable, central building) and it’s frustrating to learn the ropes when you’ve got some idiot steamrolling you while you’re still looking at the floor.
  • Online battles have pretty poorly balanced teams for the most part and victory often comes down to luck of being matched with decent players. Also, do we really want three players with rollers on our team? Or a team of short-range shooters on a map that suits distance? More often than not, these are sadly the deciding factors of victory or defeat.
  • Whilst it’s epic that single player actually has a purpose in respect of online play (which is clearly this game’s bread and butter), single player thoroughly feels like a bit of an afterthought. It should be more called ‘target practice’ because it’ll rarely test a player more than that. If this game was single player only, I’d probably cry with disappointment.
  • Two people in the same room can’t both participate in online battles together via split screen (or one person looking at the gamepad with one looking at the TV), plus you’d both need two gamepads to make use of the gyroscopic controls. Let’s not forget that 1v1 local battles are also a complete snooze-fest.

So there you have it. All in all, the small niggles I had with this game are in no way enough to outweigh how much bloody fun I’m having playing Splatoon. It’s undoubtedly given Nintendo an FPS to be proud of and one to truly rival the tired formula of ‘you are a soldier in a war, shoot the terrorists’. Is it the Mario Kart of the FPS genre? It very well may be. 8.5/10