I was raised in the woods by first-person shooters, and those woods were just a blocky texture on invisible walls. I evolved from a mammal-mouse driving Doomed dinosaur keyboard-aimers to extinction. I've selected the greatest gun in gaming history. I played Blood back when blinking counted as attempted suicide. I've been shooting for so long I remember when Duke Nukem was a good game. And with all of my years of shooting people's faces clean off, on every platform imaginable, I can tell you that not only is the Wii U's Splatoon a great game ... it's a literal savior.
For those who enjoy gaming history, I've got three articles in issue No. 8 of RETRO (including the secret of Sega Batarangs and the awful truth behind Superman's console kryptonite). The code ARKHAMKNIGHT gets you the whole magazine for $2.
6It's Saving Us From Assholes
The exact moment I bought Splatoon:
Via My Twitter
Default multiplayer voice-chat is the swollen appendix of shooters. It might once have served a function, but now it's a useless bag of pus threatening to kill everyone. Professional teams use third-party programs. People playing with friends use private parties. The only ones making noise on the default channel are:
a) using the microphone to help them swallow deep-fried oysters
b) neglected children so desperate for attention they'd take social tips from To Catch A Predator
c) those same children after 30 years of confusing kill-count for achievement
Multiplayer voice-chat should be off by default. That way you can turn it on if you want. The same way you can read YouTube comments if you want. A complete inability to speak still won't stop some people from being assholes, but Splatoon's fast matches and rapid rotation of teammates means you're never stuck with an idiot for long.
5It's Saving Us From Unnecessary Realism
The major shooter series are locked in a graphical Cold War, spending ever more ridiculous amounts of money and time on almost imperceptible improvements to the things that are killing their entire industry. It's Zeno's turtle falling into a shallow grave, iterating ever closer to a final destination filled with dirt and rocks. That's why most major releases look like someone blended gravel into shit to make the world's worst McFlurry.
It definitely looks "realistic," because this guy is at work and everything looks monotonous and depressing.
These graphical improvements don't just come at the expense of gameplay. They actively prevent it. Games are released beautifully broken, dashing themselves on exquisitely textured rocks while realistic fluid dynamics cascade sea spray across their E3 trailers. Then they wedge their main character halfway into those rocks and rag-doll it at 10,000 rpm. The obscene expense of making virtual worlds look boringly real also requires them to keep you on a single path. They're spending so much money to turn games into movies that they're hiring banner actors to make you think it's a good thing.
Kevin Spacey realizing that if he wanted to see movie-quality Kevin Spacey he could
just watch a movie with Kevin Spacey.
But there's no point in rendering realistic fluid dynamics and accurate explosion physics when that leaves fewer gameplay elements on the screen than a level of Pac-Man. At least he got to chase after multiple dots.
You follow the dot and are actively prevented from touching anything else on the screen.
You're playing as a cat following Activision's laser pointer.
Splatoon uses fluid physics as a gameplay mechanic. Making it more of a truly technical advance than every Gear Of Dutyfield put together. Every other shooter's processing advances provide cinematics instead of strategy. Jetting blood announcing, "Yeah, you got him just like you did in the first Modern Warfare, but now there's more dirt on his clothes!" Splatoon's fluid mechanical gameplay simply wouldn't have been possible on earlier systems.
Gears Of War would look like actual shit on this battlefield.
Splatoon squads are assigned random colors every match, so you're not just stuck with red or blue. For a lifelong shooter, finally seeing some bright colors feels like someone served my retina's cone cells a gallon of daiquiris after decades in the dirt-filled deserts. And it means a "kids' game" solved the known balance issue of red's advantage over blue while generations of "professional" competitive shooters simply never bothered.