Empire (Australasia) - - Review Games -


DIREC­TORS Yusuke Amano, Seita Inoue, Shin­taro Sato


PLOT Set nine months af­ter the first game’s Splat­fest event, tour­na­ment win­ner Marie finds that her cousin Cal­lie and the Great Zap­fish have gone miss­ing. Sus­pect­ing the evil Oc­tar­i­ans are re­spon­si­ble, Marie re­solves to track them down.

THE FIRST SPLATOON was a wel­come blast of orig­i­nal­ity in the of­ten risk-averse

(and re­mas­ter-ob­sessed) world of video-game de­vel­op­ment. A twist on the com­pet­i­tive third-per­son shooter, it added plat­form el­e­ments and — most in­ter­est­ingly — the abil­ity to turn into a squid.

There was a prob­lem, though. It only ex­isted on the unloved Wii U— a ma­chine that, un­like its pre­de­ces­sor, failed to take the world by storm, or even con­jure a light, lo­calised shower. Com­mer­cially Nin­tendo’s worst-per­form­ing con­sole, it un­doubt­edly ham­pered Splatoon’s mo­men­tum. The rel­a­tive early suc­cess of the Switch will hope­fully change that for this se­quel.

A quick re­cap: you play as an In­kling, a hu­manoid equipped with a gun that shoots coloured ink. Once the ink is spread over the play­ing sur­face, you can change into a squid to move quickly across the play­ing arena and climb ver­ti­cal edges, but travel through en­emy ink and you’ll slow down as your en­ergy will be sapped. And there are also walk­ways of grat­ing to watch out for, which wouldn’t pose a prob­lem in hu­man form, but you’ll slip through them as a cephalo­pod.

This ini­tially bizarre but ul­ti­mately sim­ple premise prompts two styles of game­play. In sin­gle player, Splatoon 2 leans more heav­ily on its plat­form­ing el­e­ments, which re­quire a tac­ti­cal ap­proach as you de­ploy your ink to reach oth­er­wise in­ac­ces­si­ble plat­forms or work out mini-puz­zles to trans­form the en­vi­ron­ment, such as shoot­ing ro­tat­ing tar­gets that ratchet out plat­forms which slowly spring back into place, or ink­ing rolled-up in­flat­a­bles that spring out into flat, tra­vers­a­ble sur­faces.

The on­line side, how­ever, feels far more like the team-based shooter ini­tially promised, with you and your team­mates vy­ing to cover as much of each level in your colour of ink as pos­si­ble, while tak­ing out op­po­nents with your guns, var­i­ous bombs and grenades, and spe­cial weapons.

In terms of game­play, it doesn’t feel that dif­fer­ent from the orig­i­nal. In­stead, it’s slightly bet­ter in just about ev­ery de­part­ment, from the ex­panded cam­paign to the glossier graph­ics that re­ally sell the gloop­i­ness of the ink. Just mak­ing an un­holy mess of its lev­els is oddly sat­is­fy­ing.

But the most wel­come ex­tras are the new ob­jects that have been added, bring­ing more depth to an al­ready vi­brant mix. You may, for ex­am­ple, en­counter evil Oc­tar­i­ans (the game’s ten­ta­cled en­e­mies who have kid­napped the Great Zap­fish) rolling around in gi­ant bowl­ing balls. Or find your­self slosh­ing great gob­bets of ink around lev­els us­ing noth­ing more than a sur­pris­ingly ef­fec­tive bucket. But no weapon gives the player an un­fair ad­van­tage — much bal­anc­ing work ap­pears to have been done, re­sult­ing in a far more level bat­tle­field.

While Splatoon 2 may feel like it’s just an in­cre­men­tal up­date of the orig­i­nal game, the large num­ber of Switch own­ers who didn’t buy a Wii U means many won’t have come across it be­fore. And the orig­i­nal was so good that Splatoon 2 didn’t have to adopt a rad­i­cal ap­proach. If you’re a Switch owner, it’s a ma­jor ti­tle that will bring you vast amounts of fun. STEVE BOXER

VER­DICT Boosted by the ex­tra power of the Switch over the Wii U, Splatoon 2 is bet­ter in al­most ev­ery de­part­ment com­pared with its pre­de­ces­sor. Nin­tendo has an­other hit on its (ink-splashed) hands.

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