Pokémon Black Version 2 review
The most rewarding patience ever.
New forms for Legendary Pokemon, new gym leaders, slick character designs, the Pokemon World Tournament, PokeStar Studios, classic Pokemon catchable pre-national dex, Gen III/IV legendaries being catchable, outstanding remixes of classic tunes, new subquests, new locationsSummary:
Back in 2010 when the fifth generation was about to rise, I started a thread in Neoseeker's forum for the games stating that people should be cautious when buying Black or White because everyone anticipated a sister game to them, the supposed "Grey" edition with Kyurem being the mascot. Yellow, Crystal, Emerald, Platinum. Then, in June 2012, we got an announcement that broke that tradition. We got an announcement that shook the world because it was such a change. We weren't getting a third version, but something just as good: not one, but TWO sequels to the original games. This was the happiest day of my life. Had I already completed Black or White I would have been pissed because I would have already had my 8 badges and my starter Pokemon.
So finally, October arrived after much anticipation and I finally got my hands on Black 2. My patience rewarded me so much that I couldn't have asked for anything better, and in this review I will explain why this is one of the best games ever made in the history of Pokemon.
Oh my god, I have never seen such a beautifully designed overworld in my life. The Unova region is purely amazing, hell I don't even think it's Unova, it's freaking New York City! Well, at least that's what it's based off, but anyway, the overworld has a TON of new additions. New types of tall grass, shaking grass, clouds of dust being dug up, an object bobbing out of the water, a shadow looming over a bridge... all of these are spots to find somewhat rare Pokemon. So for anyone who thought that rustling grass indicated a shiny, kudos to you, I thought that too. Most of the time, it's an Audino with heal pulse, or a fully-evolved version of Pokemon you would find under normal circumstances. Another cool thing is that rare Pokemon have their own battle theme.
But to me, the thing that impressed me the most about the overworld is something that I loved doing back in Generation III. A feature in which a certain move was actually useful outside battle. That's right: diving. Even though it's only in the Abyssal Ruins, at least it gives Dive more use rather than being a two-turn move (which is still rewarding since it's a fairly strong physical move).
Like Black and White, the overworld also has bustling cities and cars driving overhead on bridges. The camera angle changes like it did before, whether it's zooming up when going on a bridge, or leveling it to the height of a human's eyes when walking through an alleyway.
There are also loads, and I mean loads, of new locations: Aspertia City is the new starting town, putting Nuvema as possibly the last place you would visit. Flocessy Town is Alder's hometown. Flocessy Ranch has you do the first objective of the main quest, which is finding a Herdier. Virbank City is a new industrial town home to the new Poison-type gym leader, Roxie. Roxie's gym has a new twist with a theme having lyrics. Yes, LYRICS! It also has the Virbank Complex, a work-in-progess area with trainers and walkways. Castelia City's sewers are now accessible, with a few trainers and alleys here and there. Dear god, so many new locations. The rest of them aren't majorly important, but they're still fun nonetheless. A few gyms have had revamps as well: Elesa is now a top model, and even sexier than she was before. You walk along the catwalk and battle the other model trainers, and once you reach Elesa, more lyrical gym music. Are you ready?
Humilau City is home to the last Gym Leader, Marlon. Hello, my new favourite gym leader of all time. He's one of those carefree coolbro types, and his type motif is Water. When you enter the gym, though, you'll just laugh at the music playing.
Victory Road has had a massive change. As the original one, and Route 10, have been shut down, Victory Road is accessed from the east by Route 23. This Victory Road has you climb up the same mountain as before, but the other side of it. It is more based upon ruins and even features a passageway to the ruins of N's Castle
Overall, there are so many new additions to the overworld that Black and White cannot even compete with their successors.
The gameplay is... you know, the same send out a Pokemon and make it fight another as it always has. The glorius types of battle make it's return in Black 2, whether it's the traditional single battle, double battle, or the new triple and rotation battle. I always prefered to go single, double or triple, but rotation sounds like a nice way to train your strategic skill. The scenery is still according to your area, be it tall grass, a cave, a forest or an icy field.
Words cannot describe how beautiful the graphics are when accompanying the greatness of the overworld and the battle system. The engine that has been operating the DS games since Diamond and Pearl makes it's return in a beautiful and fluid form. Pokemon are still masterfully animated and moves still have their nice effects, one of my favorites being Outrage.
If you thought Black and White showed us how capable the engine was of dishing out beautiful graphics, have another think when you see what Black and White 2 has to offer. It is simply eye sex.
Plot (SPOILER WARNING)
Team Plasma are back, and this time they're going assassino badassino. Yeah, that was bad, I apologize. Aside from major villains such as Ghetsis making a comeback in a more badass appearance, there are some new foes to face, the two coming to mind being Colress, a scientist who works as a spy, and Zinzolin, a new "second-in-command". You, your new rival (named Hugh by default) and Cheren, your former rival who is now the first Gym Leader, all pursue Team Plasma to put an end to their new scheme. What is this new scheme, you ask? Why, it's none other than capturing the ice dragon Kyurem and harnessing it's energy to freeze the entire Unova region. Sound familiar? The second crime organization wanting to have a type of weather dominate a region, there's a hint. After countless amounts of battles with the Plasma Grunts and once you raid their ship, the Plasma Frigate,
you attempt to free Kyurem but then find that it is under the control of Ghetsis. You confront Ghetsis and Kyurem at the Giant Chasm, and Kyurem tries to kill you using icicle spears! Until a certain thunderbolt comes down and destroys them all. Ghetsis knows exactly who saved you, none other than N, on the back of the mighty Zekrom. But Ghetsis has another plan up his sleeve: with both Kyurem and Zekrom in his trap, he uses devices called DNA Splicers to give Kyurem the power of Absofusion. Kyurem attempts to restrain Zekrom, but the black dragon dodges the first few tentacles. Somehow, Kyurem succeeds and Zekrom is helpless. Now, with the power of fusion, Kyurem and Zekrom merge into one of the best Pokemon in the entire game: the almighty Black Kyurem. Now it is up to you to try and seperate the two dragons. Unfortunately, due to "a device that Ghetsis developed (probably the DNA Splicers)", you can't catch it yet, so don't worry about killing it. After defeating it, Zekrom and Kyurem are split back. Then you have your very final battle with Ghetsis, now with a much more intimidating and evil battle theme to go with it. Defeat Ghetsis and you've stopped Team Plasma once again.
You then proceed to defeat the Elite Four and fight the champion. As you walk up the stairs, you anticipate fighting a familiar friend, until you reach the top.
You stop and you stare in surprise, as Alder is no longer the champion. Standing before you in all the elegance she can get, is none other than Iris, a familiar friend who appears at times during your journey. (She was also the former gym leader of Opelucid City, but that's only if you had White.) Dragon returns as the champion's type motif with two others that are not dragon types.
Once you defeat Iris, the game is all yours to free-roam in, thus the story is officially over.
This plot is purely AMAZING. I love Team Plasma's new look and characteristics, as well as having a kick-ass battle theme. They're also unique in being a crime organization that actually tried to have Kyurem kill you. I love the new characters as well, especially Colress. He's a rather quiet character, and despite how he betrays you as a spy for Team Plasma, he's not all that evil. You can also rebattle him which is a bonus. N is now truly a good guy, and you now fight his Zekrom to prove you are a trainer pursuing ideals. What's more, the plot isn't even something you wouldn't understand if you hadn't played Black or White. There wasn't a single time in the game where I didn't have to read a summary of B/W's storyline to get the idea. It also makes sense that Iris is the new champion, her understanding of Dragon-types and being one who wasn't afraid to challenge Drayden in the anime deserved it.
Alder still has some minor roles in the plot. You do get to battle him, but the real reason he's out of champ business is his grandson, Benga. Benga is basically the Red of Generation V, with his Lv. 80 Pokemon. You fight him when you reach Area 10 of the battle tower. The reward is probably one of the best things you could recieve in a Pokemon game, but I'll leave that to you because it's so awesome.
Other than that, this plot is probably the best in the entire series. Well written, GameFreak. Well written.
Eh, the online is just the same old Wi-Fi bullshit, with tiers/EV's/IV's and all that crap. This is with every Pokemon game since Generation IV. To be fair, I'll leave my rant out of this perfect game, but in short: I just want to have a normal battle, thanks.
Pokemon games don't have tech support... do they?
No easter eggs... for now.
Black and White's pieces return in Black and White 2. Some have been slightly edited, others have stayed the same. The gym themes are slick, I especially like Burgh, Skyla and Drayden's theme. Marlon's is nice too, but it's way too unfitting for an 8th gym. Kyurem's new forms have their own battle themes, and they're so awesome. Humilau City's theme is AMAZING. Pokemon World Tournament Lobby is epic, so many good tracks. The music is one of the best I've heard in a Pokemon game.
Not to mention, for all you classic fans, there's outstanding remixes of classic tunes. Every regional gym theme, every specific champion theme, has been beautifully remastered using the game's soundfront. Ear sex. That is all.
The controls are as usual, perfect for a Pokemon game. I miss being able to tap the Run button on Soul Silver so I didn't have to hold B, but there are some improvements. You can now register as many things as you want in your select menu, whether it's a bike, the town map or even the Pokedex. The C-Gear makes it's return and it's only better than ever. There's nothing wrong with the controls, though you might want to get used to the difference from Gen IV's fluent movement.
Repetition / Lasting Value
Pokemon games have a huge knack for being repetitive, and Black 2 is no exception. You can fight in any Pokemon World Tournament as many times as you want, Colress is rebattleable, Cynthia is rebattleable, and even the trainers will rematch you again at the most unexpected of times. Not to mention, the series-wide repetition for hunting shinies and hatching eggs. Once again, defeating the champion does not mark the end of the game.
Tying Into a Series
Pokemon Black 2 is a... hmm, what name of a gem should I give it to? There's already an Emerald, a ruby, a diamond... ah, screw it. Pokemon Black 2 is no exception as a masterpiece. It's full of new and innovative features, and for you people who love nostalgia, Black 2 is full of it. Every single Gym Leader is there. Every Champion waiting to battle you again. A handful of classic Pokemon to aid you in your journey, plus the addition of Genesect, the new last Pokemon in the Pokedex, for players who were lucky enough to buy it before November 12th. If you haven't at least tried this game out, please do. It really shows that Generation V is not just new Pokemon and that's it. Black 2 has only boosted the success of the franchise, and one day a sequel to a set of a new generation of games might arise again and play as well as this did.
Glitches/Bugs in Offline Modes
There are quite alot of glitches in Black 2, but most are so hard to achieve it's like it won't even exist. For a full list of glitches, go here: http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/List_of_glitches_in_Generation_V#Pok.C3.A9mon_Black_2_and_White_2
I officially tie Black 2, SoulSilver and Emerald as the best three Pokemon games ever made. It is just so good and there are barely any negatives when playing offline. The graphics are beautiful. The gameplay is perfect. The audio is ear sex. I have nothing but my absolute praise for Black 2, and I also declare it is the Pokemon game.
Black 2 is literally a gathering of everything from the past and putting it all in one neat little package. If you haven't bought it, please do. It is far, FAR better than Black and White, in my honest opinion, and you won't regret that GameFreak decided to put it on the Nintendo DS once again (I was besides myself with worry that they'd put it on the 3DS). I cannot stress this enough: Buy. This. Game.
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