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Splatoon 2 Review: Even more splatastic the second time around

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Splatoon's emphasis on fast-paced ink multiplayer gameplay has always been a staple in the series. The original game proved to be a huge hit for Nintendo, introducing a fresh new take on multiplayer while moving away from the traditional arena shooters we are so used to. Splatoon's mechanics are simple, you can shoot vibrant ink from various weapons you are given and you need to cover the floor with your ink before the timer runs out.

Sure, that sounds all simple enough for the multiplayer modes, but somehow, Splatoon's red versus blue mechanic works across the board in the stellar single player, Salmon Run, and of course is the foundation of the PvP portion of the game. There is always two different coloured ink in the scenario, yours and the one you want to avoid. That is Splatoon in a nutshell. 

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Splatoon 2 feels like a more fleshed-out version of the original game with everything being bigger, better, and dare I say prettier. Landing in Inkopolis Square, the central hub of Splatoon, it is here where you can find all the activities to keep you busy in the game. The multiplayer modes are launched here, you can take a trip down to Octo Canyon for the dedicated single player campaign, or test your skill with friends in the brand new Salmon Run game mode. 

Inkopolis Square serves as the hub of all things, but everything can also be accessed via the in-game menu too, which lets you quickly teleport to various places in the game. Splatoon 2 has greatly improved on an already-stellar single player campaign with thirty-odd levels to experience, that sees you explore the vast outskirts of Inkopolis as you try to hunt down a missing pop icon. While the single player campaign might be very similar to the original, there is no fault here as the experience is top notch. 

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Every level has been cleverly designed to bring out all the game's best mechanics, from diving under the ink to avoid massive irons from making you flat calamari to the fantastic boss fights that await at the end of each world. It feels as though Splatoon 2's great single player campaign has been crafted with the precision and excellence that has made the Mario series such a hit. Every level is better than the last and although linear, there are hidden treasures to find along the way too. They also prove to be a great testing ground for your skills with the various weapons in the game as throughout the campaign you will be tested with a new weapon to try out. 

It goes without saying that the weapon system in Splatoon 2 is bigger and better than the original, and throughout the single player campaign I was truly put to the test by being forced to use a specific weapon in a specific level. Sheldon, your weapon guy, is quite determined to make sure you test out all his tools, so he throws a new weapon at you every so often to give it a go.  

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Some of these weapons are familiar, but all the weapons from the original game can now do something even more awesome. The roller can now throw ink in both a verticle and horizontal axis, the sniper can now be used to teleport across gaps with the help of nodes, and the dual shooters now come with a roll mechanic that lets you quickly dodge and roll around on the ground. Each one of the new mechanics in the guns does indeed make a big difference, and although they are not massive changes, they all compliment each other in some way. 

Weapons aside, Splatoon 2 has also introduced awesome new "ultimate" abilities, which are pickups in single player and gauges the refill in the multiplayer portion of the game. These new attacks are a one-time special ability that lets you toss an unlimited amount of grenades at enemies, rain down ink from above like a waterfall, and even soar above the battlefield with an ink-powered jet pack. While these abilities are not readily available in the campaign, you can equip them in the multiplayer game mode and go mad with them there.

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In a nutshell, Splatoon 2's single player experience is what we would expect from it. There is no cutting corners here or leaving it as an after thought for Nintendo. The campaign is a chunky piece of content that is a great stepping stone towards the game's obvious main mode, its multiplayer. This is where Splatoon 2 again proves that it is in a league of its own. 

Splatoon 2's multiplayer offering is as solid as the original and in every aspect, it has been polished, refined, and more content has been added into it. Veteran players will be able to dive right into the game as if nothing changed, but Nintendo has also made sure that newcomers to the series will be treated to an awesome,  messy experience from the start.

While the controls are the same throughout the game, it is important to note that they work phenomenally in the multiplayer portion too, and this is where you would want them to work like a charm.  Walking, diving, and shooting, all while aiming using the Switch's superb motion controller was a treat. Somehow the precision and the ability to quickly move your hands in the direction you want to shoot felt so natural.

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I did encounter some issues when playing the game while laying in bed. The motion settings have a restriction to how far tilted down the screen can be, so I had to turn off the motion feature throughout my in-bed sessions as the aiming was just not as refined as I wanted it to be. 

Again, it goes without saying that no matter where I played Splatoon 2, be it on the beach (I was on holiday), in the coffee shop, or at home when I got back, it was a flawless experience from start to finish no matter what control I used. I would personally say that the docked mode with the Joy-Con attached to the controller was my favourite way to play, but the handheld mode was just as great. 

I managed to get in a few matches online, which Nintendo set up for media testing purposes, and it was what I expected. This constant, high-octane action as each team tries to paint the ground in their ink before the time runs out. It was everything I loved from the original and more. Dozens of matches would go by and I would lose terribly, and then win like never before, but I never once felt salty about it nor did I rage. Splatoon 2's casual multiplayer experience is simply adorable without ever feeling like a grind or a chore. 

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It is as simple as entering a lobby, finding a game, making a mess, taking names, and moving onto the next match. After a while, I lost track of time and life as I sat craving more Splatoon 2. I am very excited for the servers to fill up when the game releases so I can go back and make even more messes at Barnacle's Sports Club.

Splatoon's progression system also returns. Weapons are unlocked as you progress out of the "fresh" ranks, and the higher you get, the more clothing and items are available for you to buy back in Inkopolis Square. Items have set abilities that decrease, for example, the rate which your ink tank drops, or even refill. The grind for loot will soon become real as you master every weapon and now try and find the perfect build to create that flawless Squidling with. There is no doubt that Splatoon 2's best end game content is in its multiplayer. 

There was one more game mode which I did not get around to test and that is the new Salmon Run mode. From what I understand it is a wave-based game mode that sees you and three friends survive waves of creatures from the deep. I will be testing this out as soon as the servers kick in and I will report back. 

There is no doubt that Splatoon 2 is the bigger and more attractive older sister of the Wii U version. Running at 1080p 60FPS in the dock and 720P 60FPS in handheld, it was gorgeous eye candy of which I could not look away. It also offered some pretty impressive battery stats which was almost double the amount of time I would spend playing Breath of the Wild before my Switch would go flat. 

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Splatoon 2 is yet another reason why you should question why you don't have a Switch. It's sheer enjoyment across all its game modes and casual yet addictive multiplayer mode is for me, a system seller. I do not need to tell you, but if you don't own a Switch yet, what are you doing with your life?

Available On: Nintendo Switch | Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch | Release Date: 21 July 2017 | RRP:

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"it was gorgeous eye candy of which I could not look away."

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