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Pokemon White Review

Pokemon White Review

Anyone familiar with the Pokemon franchise should know well in advance that Black/White is nothing truly new to the series. Players will still capture Pokemon, make them battle, wander the world in search of gym leaders in attempt to be the very best, that no one ever was. If you're looking for a change to the core mechanics, hoping that somehow Pokemon's very traditional RPG elements have been swapped for something new, or are just interested in seeing some sort of massive change hit the series for no particular reason, it may be best to just turn away at this point. Pokemon Black/White isn't about changing the series away from its roots, but rather on improving the original equation.

Plot wise things haven't really changed, and if anything the game has become a little more direct in letting players know exactly where to go and how exactly to play the game. In fact, much of the game's starting areas are based completely around showing the player exactly how the more complex aspects of the series are to be handled. Weaknesses such as fire, water, and grass types are run through, while aid is actively given to the player prior to every gym battle (such as letting you know which type of Pokemon the gym leader uses). This sort of linearity is very handy for players new to the series, but veteran player still have a lot to look forward to as well, mainly in creature design.

Black/White had me at the first moment I entered a cave, and I didn't have to fight a Zubat. In fact, through most of the game players will find (until the opening of the 'international' Pokedex) that the cast and ensemble of this title is absolutely refreshing compared to prior games. The art design has really been taken up a notch, partly due to the significant graphical upgrade the series has seen, and also partly in credit to the team's creative art direction. Pokemon now move on screen between attacks, actually change animations when hit by status ailments, and are far more personable then they've ever been before. The variety of Pokemon players encounter is pretty impressive as well, as where prior titles had a pretty rigorous trend of 'when' it was time to capture a particular breed of creature, Black/White tosses an impressive variety of creatures at players rather quickly.

The result is a game that feels far more balanced, and a lot less grind oriented. When players would get easily stuck in prior titles it was just a matter of running around in the tall grass knocking out woodland animals until enough levels had been acquired; now players should not only have enough variety to get the job done, but level design also provides enough support that players should not feel lost and searching for spare trainers in order to battle. Every town is now treated very much like a hub which players can use to further plot points, gain experience and items, capture new types of Pokemon, and train quickly before facing the next badge trial.

While some of this hand-holding and rule reiteration may feel very unnecessary for new players, the game makes up for it in quite a few ways with some extremely handy game design. Tall grass (or the taller grass than normal tall grass) in prior games was simply grass that could not be passed through with a bike, but now it features single and double 'wild' battles where players can potentially level up more than one Pokemon at once. Likewise there are more opportunities for players to rest their Pokemon on the fly, as nurses and rest stations are more liberally sprinkled throughout the world. The result is more time in the field battling trainers and levelling up rather than running back and forth between towns or spending an excess amount of cash on potions or revival items.

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