Review by TranquilSea

"Close to Perfection"

"Close to Perfection"

Black 2 and White 2, the latest instalments in the series, takes place two years after the events in Black and White and have more than enough new content to justify the purchase.

Gameplay. There are no drastic changes to the mechanics, as you'd expect from two entries falling into an already established generation. Training a party of six in the main game is easier than ever, because on top of the Audinos returning, the Pokemon breeder NPCs scattered throughout the region will re-battle you an infinite amount of times (given that you leave and re-enter the route each time). The regional (Unova) Pokedex boasts a strong selection of about 300 Pokemon, giving you plenty of team options as you make your way through.

Those who play competitively will notice that these games are a step forward in streamlining the breeding and training of competitive Pokemon. Ever Stone now guarantees the nature is passed down through breeding. You can buy a random set of EV-reducing berries each day. The Join Avenue, which is unlocked early on (and is fairly easy to populate and rank up thanks to the Dream World and the GTS), is an amazing addition to the game, and offers excellent items and services that will please both the casual and competitive crowd (e.g. PP ups, pinch berries, egg-hatching, happiness raising, EV training and reduction, and even level ups).

The little tweaks that Game Freak made are extremely welcoming, and contribute to the polished gameplay. When one repel runs out, you will automatically be given the option to use another. You can select and move multiple Pokemon at a time again in the Pokemon storage system. Items being held on Pokemon can now be moved directly to another Pokemon (no more bagging it and then giving it). There is also the addition of a free space section in your inventory that you can move all of your junk to, if you're a pack-rat and you want to reduce the clutter in other areas of your inventory.

The Battle Subway, sports stadiums, and musicals all make a return. The new Pokewood facility will let you make and watch your own Pokemon movies. The new Pokemon World Tournament (PWT) facility will let you battle every gym leader and champion from the series. With each tournament being just three battles, the tournaments you unlock later on are an excellent source of battle points.

For the first time, completing the Pokedex comes with more than just a certificate or a Pokemon. Seeing all Pokemon in the Unova Pokedex will get you access to a special location where a guaranteed shiny Haxorus and Pokemon not normally found in the Unova region await. Catching all the Pokemon in the Unova Pokedex (excluding event legendaries, like Genesect and Meleotta) will get you the Oval Charm, which increases the rate at which the Daycare Man finds eggs for you. Catching everything in the National Pokedex (again, excluding event legendaries) will get you the Shiny Charm item, which permanently triples your chances of encountering a shiny. The new Habitat List (which tells you what Pokemon you can find in each area, and whether or not you've seen/caught them all) makes filling the Unova Pokedex during your adventure extremely convenient. Online trading or owning past titles is necessary for completing the National Pokedex.

Black City and White Forest have changed significantly, and are now areas with a host of powerful trainers that will not disappear on you if you take a break from playing. Clear all the areas to get to the final boss, who will give you a shiny Dratini in White 2 or a shiny Gible in Black 2 if you beat him. Everyone in this area can be re-battled, making it a great source of experience and money post-game.

Hidden Grottos give you a way of obtaining Pokemon with Dream World abilities without actually going to the Dream World, but the insanely low chances of getting anything really useful makes it impractical for the typical player.

New move tutors, an array of daily and weekly events… the list of content goes on. Overall, the gameplay feels extremely polished, there's enough content to keep anyone occupied for dozens, if not hundreds of hours after the main story.

Music and Sound. Despite this being a sequel, most of the tracks are either new or remixed, and they all sound amazing. Overworld tunes are catchy as usual. Gyms and special trainers have their own distinctive themes (a few even have some vocals), and the Pokemon World Tournament features remixed gym and champion themes from all five regions. Overall, the quality of the music here is among the best in the Pokemon series.

Story. As usual, your goal is to explore the region and to befriend and train Pokemon along the way. Aside from the antagonists and your rival, there are the usual eight gyms, one Elite 4, and one champion to conquer. The story picks up from where it left off in Black and White. There are some new faces, but many familiar faces also make a return. While these games don't give you a complete recap of everything that happened before, the plot is straight-forward enough not to confuse people who haven't played Black and White.

Wi-Fi. Regular online trading and battling, random wi-fi match-ups (which still limit you to 3v3 and cap you at level 50), connectivity to the Dream World (through the Global Link website), the GTS and GTS negotiations, the friend code system, and the battle video recorder all make a return. Disconnecting from a random wi-fi battle will now prevent you from using the feature again for a certain amount of time, which helps deter the sore losers. As mentioned before, there's the Join Avenue – anyone you connect with online will appear in your Join Avenue business. You can then either invite them to set up a shop in your avenue, or recommend them to an existing shop (which helps level up existing shops). You can have a maximum of eight shops, but you can replace them at any time.

Conclusion. At their cores, these are the same games we've come to know and love (or hate). Game Freak has always been persistent on expanding and tweaking the traditional formula instead of reworking it. Black 2 and White 2 aren't just the products of three or four years of development – they're the products of a decade and a half of effort, creativity, and innovation, and they shine beautifully as the most well-crafted Pokemon games in the series to date.

If you love gaming, do yourself a favour and get this. Existing fans, both casual and competitive, need no persuasion. If you're new to Pokemon or you're just getting back to it, there is no better place to start than here. The bottom line is: these are two of the best games out there, and the only thing that can prevent you from enjoying them is close-mindedness.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 11/14/12, Updated 11/15/12

Game Release: Pokemon Black Version 2 (US, 10/07/12)

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