Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Pokémon X & Y - Final Round Review

Catching them all is more challenging, and fun, than ever before in the sixth generation of Pokémon.  Game Freak has once again outdone themselves, bringing a 3D world to life with great graphics, a spectacular story and plenty of Pokémon to catch.

There are so many Pokémon in X/Y that there are three separate Pokédex for the Kalos region (Central, Coastal and Mountain), and each hold approximately 150 Pokémon; that means, even though Kalos only brings 68 new Pokémon to the table, the region holds over half the known Pokémon in existence.

If you still aren’t excited, the newly discovered Fairy-type Pokémon are awesome.  When this additional Pokémon type was first unveiled I was sceptical, later the idea intrigued me, but now I realise what a great addition it is.  Rather than just a few random new Pokémon with this type, Game Freak have actually overhauled a few of the older generation, such as Clefairy and Marill.  Fairy-type fit nicely into the compatibly chart, and Dragon-type now have some proper competition.

Of course a great game doesn’t come from the amount of Pokémon you can catch, it also comes from how they battle, interact, and are trained.  Without deriving from the classic turn-based style of combat, Pokémon battles are now more cinematic and flowing, moving at a faster pace and feeling that much smoother.  Most thankfully, Pokémon are no longer 2D pixelated sprits during battles, and their sounds and animations are amazing.

Horde battles come as a bit of a fun surprise; you can either summon them, with honey, or be a chance encounter.  The Pokémon in these battles are normally 5 or so levels behind other Pokémon in the area, and are normally quite easy to best, especially if you have abilities that hurt multiple enemies.  I have yet to come across a horde of Zubat in a cave; otherwise I might feel differently about them.

Another new feature is Mega Evolution which can be either amazing or boring, depending on how you use it.  Using Mega Evolution against either dim witted AI or wild Pokémon it can be completely impractical, as you steamroll them, which takes the fun out of it.  But it is very useful against Gym Leaders and in online arenas, even if everyone has a Mega Lucario and one or more of the Mega starters.  Remember though, you can only Mega Evolve one Pokémon per battle, so use it wisely.

You can also train the base stats of the Pokémon in your party using Super Training, using specific punching-bags or by playing a soccer-like mini game for that stat you want raised.  Luckily, there is a cap on how much you can train your Pokémon, and once that is reached only levelling will increase those stats, otherwise there is no telling what the online community would be like.  Promotional Videos, taking photos and even playing with your Pokémon in Pokémon-Amie or Super Training, add an extra element to the otherwise tried and true yet repetitive combat.

The Player Search System is a great way to verse and trade with the thousands of other players around the world, upgrading upon the system in Black/White.  With just a tap of the touch screen we can even watch each other’s Promotional Video’s and see their profile image and information (such as country, favourite Pokémon type/colour).  Interacting with other players has never been easier or more fun.

Story-wise there is very little deviation from earlier titles, you play as a ten year-old, from a very small town (like, three buildings) and the Pokémon Professor wants you to complete the Pokédex for him.  Simple stuff.  The main alteration in the early stages is the speed of game progression and the fact that you have four friends/rivals, rather than only two.  Team Flare, like earlier villainous teams, are out for themselves and it’s your job, of course, to put a stop to them.  There is nothing quite like finding a grunts “key card” after he drops it and tells you “I must have dropped it 9 paces away from me, at the boulder.”  Their gaudy red uniforms and sense of flair let you know when they are around.

It is hard to go wrong with a core Pokémon game, and yet Game Freak continues to add more and more to the series.  More Pokémon, more people, a new area to explore; not to mention the great 3D world, full of amazing deigns and intrigue.  On the surface a kid’s game with simple controls and an even simpler story, can be just as intriguing and involving to the older audience.  Whether you want to complete your massive Pokédex, learn the secrets of Mega Evolution or just be the very best there ever was, X and Y are an excellent next step in the evolution of Pokémon.

Final Round Rating  -  9/10 

 - Steff Webb

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