Pokemon GO Review

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WOW, WE REALLY FEEL LIKE ACTUAL TRAIN-OH, THE SERVER’S DOWN AGAIN

As you might have heard, the European release of Pokémon GO has been delayed until further notice due to issues with Niantec’s servers. The game’s popularity has caused incredible strain, causing them to frequently stall or crash.

Of course it is already available in Australia, New Zealand and America and will remain functional while Niantec tries to fix the problem. European players with an android device can get a head start by downloading the Application’s file here.

We did this and we’ve had a lot of fun with the game over the past few days. It’s a good excuse to go out and explore and it’s fun to actually be the one roaming around looking for Pokémon personally for once.

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Sure, we find an army of Weedles and some people just happen to run into a bloody Squirtle.

Let’s talk about the app.

It’s fairly user friendly, as it doesn’t require any sort of lengthy sing-up process and character generation, while rather limited, is quick and simple. That being said, the game is also rather light on player training. You get one brief tutorial on catching Pokémon, but things like incubating eggs or the mechanics of fighting in gyms are left mostly unexplained.

We’ve heard some people grumble that it’s not a proper Pokémon game and of course it isn’t. We’re not sure what those people were expecting. There are no real battles in Pokémon Go. At least, not like we’re used to. Pokémon are caught by chucking balls at them until one works and you only ever really fight once you reach level 5 and you can challenge gyms.

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Gym battles might look interesting, but it gets boring pretty quickly.

These fights are not the turn-based affair we’re used to. Pokémon no longer have levels, but combat power (CP) which determines their strength. In a gym battle, you tap to attack and swipe to dodge an opponent’s attacks, which only sort of works. Any caught Pokémon has candies required to evolve it, so you need to catch multiple of the same Pokémon to evolve it. Any spares can be released, which also grants you one candy.

CP can be raised to a certain maximum, related to your trainer level, and evolving a Pokémon generally raises it as well. The higher your trainer level, the further you can raises a Pokémon’s CP, though this requires candies and stardust.

Eggs function much like in the games in that they hatch if you walk far enough (Generally 2km,  5km or 10km) provided you’ve put them in an incubator. They, along with other items, can be found by visiting Pokéstops found at landmarks.

These mechanics all work very nicely. We were pleased to find that, even in a small town like ours, there were still plenty of Pokéstops where we could find new items and eggs. It was also not as barren of Pokémon as we feared, though there is a distinct lack of interesting ones near here, sadly.

Sadly, the moment we left town and ventured into the forest a bit, encounters dropped off almost completely. It kinda seems contradictory to make a game encouraging exploration which only really works so long as you stay in town.

At time of writing, Gyms are sadly almost completely useless. Whenever we tried to challenge one we’d beat the leader’s Pokémon to a pulp, only for the server to start ignoring us and leaving the enemy Pokémon permanently stuck on 1HP and no longer taking any sort of damage. At times they’d still attack, though, leading to a situation where a Pidgeot with three times the CP couldn’t take out a Caterpie at 1HP.

The server issues are, frankly, ridiculously bad. Niantec have stated that they were simply not expecting Pokémon Go to reach the popularity it has. This either makes them naïve, out of touch idiots or very  poor liars.

There was an impressive level of hype surrounding the game, as anyone could tell you, and it’s probably one of 2016’s most eagerly anticipated games. So yeah, if Niantec was honestly surprised by this, they should probably fire whoever handles their market research. This feels more like half-assed implementation and poor preparation than any sort of surprised reaction.

Frankly, we will be quite annoyed if there is no compensation for the players for this. We can’t be the only one who used an item and never got to reap the benefit, because the server went down seconds later and only came back up hours later.

Our gripes with the servers aside, Pokémon Go is a lot of fun. You may have to go quite a ways to encounter new Pokémon at times, but that’s part of the exploration the game encourages. If you’re looking for a real Pokémon game, wait for Sun and Moon. However, if you want something fun that’ll make a walk through town just a bit more interesting, Pokémon Go could be what you need.

What Pokémon have you encountered out there? Did you have better luck with the servers? Let us know in the comments below!

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