Friday, 25 October 2013

Pokemon X Review - 3DS

I always say that graphics don't make a game but when it comes to Pokemon X and Y, whose central theme is beauty, they really do. The game is the first main entry in the series to be in 3D and is also focused on beauty. This means the entire library of Pokemon has been reimagined in 3D and the environments you visits need to look stunning. Fortunately the entire game, from the character models to the Pokemon designs to the towns you visit, looks fantastic. There are better looking 3DS games but at no point during the game did I think "this should have looked better". 

The graphics aren't the only thing to be overhauled. The gameplay features a number of new additions that really enhance the experience. For starters you can run right from the outset, something I have been craving for years. Then there's Mega Evolution, which allows your Pokemon to become even stronger. Then there are the hordes of Pokemon which have you take on five Pokemon at once for lots of exp. Then there's super training, a set of touchscreen based mini games which let you boost your Pokemon's base stats. And finally there's Pokemon Amie, which lets you interact with your Pokemon on the touch screen, and the exp. share which gives all of the Pokemon in your party exp. after a fight. This last feature is my personal favourite as it removes the need for grinding. If you find it makes the game too easy then you can simply turn it off. For me this change helps the game to be the best in the series and is truly a stroke of genius in a series that was, while still fun, becoming a bit tedious. All of the changes I've mentioned here, and the minor ones I haven't, add to the Pokemon experience and improve the game, sometimes in ways I didn't know needed to happen. I have enjoyed all of the games in the main series but even I have thought the changes made to the formula were too incremental. It's as though Game Freak have reached the same conclusion and with X and Y have decided to genuinely surprise fans with some massive changes.

Don't think everything is tickety-boo however. One of the big issues with the gameplay of the series, namely the fact that if your Pokemon faints it receives no exp. despite having put in a potentially great deal of effort, still has not been addressed. I don't expect the full amount of exp., but something to reward my efforts would be nice. Also, whilst the graphics have received a huge upgrade, the sound has not. The soundtrack is absolutely fantastic, as you would expect in a Pokemon game, but the effects for the Pokemon are awful. There are a handful with decent sounds, like Pikachu, but most of the Pokemon have sounds more fitting for a Gameboy game rather than a 3DS game. This isn't terrible and to be honest after a while you stop noticing it, but it would have been nice if the sound received the same treatment as the graphics. 

Online battling has also been tweaked, though not so much as other areas of the gameplay. Rather than the near endless waiting in lobbies of the old games you can simply display online options on the touch screen while you play and battle friends or passers by almost instantly. It's a small change but it makes online battles much less of a hassle. There's also Wonder Trading which allows you to throw out a Pokemon onto the internet and see what people send you in return.

And finally there's the story. Pokemon games aren't really about the story, they are more about your own personal adventure, but the story in this game isn't actually that bad. Sure Team Flare are pretty ridiculous and no there's not a huge amount of depth but it's still got its fair share of cool moments and is perfectly entertaining despite its flaws. Really though criticising a Pokemon game's story is like criticising a disabled child for not being as able as a non-disabled child, it's just stupid. There's also the fact that this game seems to provide more freedom than other Pokemon games. Most of the HMs can be used without gym badges and the world and the way it's set out seems to encourage more freedom than before. The gyms and the story are cool, especially as all of the gyms are unique and interesting and avoid the trap that is the usual mix of some interesting ones and some dull ones that these games tend to suffer from. In fact I finished the games' story in sixteen hours and will now make use of this freedom, whereas Alan has taken over thirty hours with the story because he already used this freedom. The sense of freedom can be exploited when you choose and it really seems stronger here than in any Pokemon game to have come before. 

This game isn't perfect but it's important to note that rather than the incremental changes the series is known for there are massive changes that make this the best Pokemon game ever made. The game feels new and exciting but at the same time nostalgic and familiar. Game Freak mix plenty of old with a lot of new and the result is the greatest Pokemon game ever made and the best game on the 3DS. This game is truly genre defining and I can't wait to see where the series goes from here.  

Verdict: The best Pokemon game ever made.

No comments:

Post a Comment