The online play is bad, but the rest is fully intact and awesome.
Good: - excellent, fun gameplay - great new single player mode that you will actually want to play - awesome new characters and stages - best game soundtrack of all time - multiplayer is still a blast - almost everything can be done with 2 player co-op - great graphics, likely the best seen on Wii thus far - LOADED with tons of extra stuff -
Bad: - online play is really bad - stage editor is ok, but not something you'll find yourself using much -
Super Smash Bros. Brawl has finally arrived, after years of waiting and a couple unfortunate delays. Now that Brawl is here, was it worth all the waiting and all the hype? The answer is, thankfully, yes. Brawl goes above and beyond gaming standards and delivers a package fully loaded with, well... everything! I guess I'll just cut the introduction short here and start my long review.
I guess I'll start by telling you about the main aspect of Brawl: Brawl mode (not to sound redundant or anything). In Brawl mode, you fight 1-3 other people playing as one of 35 characters on one of 41 awesome stages and fight a timed, stock, or (and I still don't know why this exists) coin battle. The core gameplay of Smash Bros. has stuck, but the game still feels a little different from Melee as you first play it. The gameplay, overall, is pretty much flawless. I wouldn't really change anything, and to those of you who say it's merely 'Melee 2,' it's definitely much more, so stop being so negative. While the gameplay feels so familiar (yet still a little new), there's so much extra stuff here that make this game worth more than the mere $50 you paid to get the game.
Smash Bros. is not not only great in the aspect of multiplayer, but in the single player front as well. The new adventure mode, called 'The Subspace Emissary,' is huge with tons of great sidescrolling levels to play through. The story in this adventure is easily recognized despite the fact that there is absolutely no dialogue. A guy called the Ancient Minister appears to want to transfer the world of our Nintendo heroes to a realm of Subspace, thereby pretty much destroying it. You play as each of the 35 characters from the roster at some point in the game, and unlock the ones that aren't available yet in Brawl mode as you go. This was a nice way to be able to get all the characters and allowed you to not necessarily have to play Classic mode 35 times to get the last character.
The single player also still has Classic mode, where you fight a bunch of Brawls and finish by defeating Master Hand. There is also a great event mode with 62 levels, 41 on single player and 21 on co-op. The multi-man brawls are pretty similar to Melee but you fight a different type of team than the wire frames. All-Star mode has returned, but like Classic, you may not want to play through it 35 times. All-Star can also be done on 2 player co-op along with pretty much everything else in the single player mode, including the Subspace Emissary.
The new additions to Brawl are totally awesome. The new stages are much better than Melee's stages, with breathtaking backgrounds and great creativity all around. The only stage with a poor background is the Pikmin stage, which for some reason has one blurry still image in the background. Otherwise the stages are mostly all awesome, and there are even some destructible walls and objects on some! The character roster is huge and really cool, with returning icons such as Mario, Link, and Samus, while tons of new characters make their way into the series such as Ike (my favorite), Meta Knight, and Olimar. It's great fun to play as all the characters just to try something different all over again, I often will select a different character other than my best, something I rarely did in Melee.
While the multiplayer retains its excellence, the new online play wasn't able to hold much of anything we should expect. This is truly the game's only big flaw, and is the only reason I didn't give it a 10. The 'With Anyone' play is no good at all. You're randomly pitted against 1-3 other people, you can't see their names at all, there's a bunch of painfully annoying lag, and you just don't give a darn about winning or losing because for one you don't even know who the heck you're playing and two it doesn't keep any kind of record! I pretty much summed up my hate for the online play there and I have hardly even played the game online, I've already played Mario Kart Wii online at least five times as much as this, and I've owned the game for a whole month less! The 'With Friends' part of the online is actually ok, but again the lag kills all the fun even if you're playing with just one other person who barely lives two miles away from you and has a decent connection quality.
After the major negative note, I need to go back to all the great stuff. Brawl is jam-packed with, well... stuff! First of all, there are TONS of trophies and stickers to collect and will take you a painfully long time to get them all. There is also a new Kirby Air Ride-style 'mission' board (only it looks nicer) which tells you how to unlock new stuff such as trophies, stickers, stages, and CDs (explained later). There are SO many objectives on that board that you just may never complete them all, even a few years from now. There is also a coin launcher where you shoot the coins you collect while playing the game at trophies and enemies on a pinball-style table to unlock even more stuff. Not to mention the extra fun you can have with the trophies and stickers! You can put stickers on a scrapbook-type paper in-game and take a snapshot of it or even make a cool diarama with your trophies! The last feature I'll talk about is the stage editor. Building your own stage is pretty cool, but it's not all it could have been and the stages are no fun to actually play on at all.
The music in Brawl is easily the best I have ever heard of in a video game, and it only leaves me asking why Nintendo hasn't released a soundtrack yet. There are SO many music tracks in the game, many of which are unlocked by collecting CDs during battle or by clearing certain objectives. You can also pick which music you want to have higher or lower chances of playing when you go to fight on a certain stage, which is an awesome feature and allows you to hear your favorite music on any given stage however frequently you want! The only problem with this is that there is so much great music that you often will get stuck figuring out which tracks you want to hear more! That said, Brawl has the best game soundtrack ever, no doubt about it.
The last aspect of Brawl I'll talk about is the controls. The controls in Brawl are easily the best I've ever seen, with four fully-customizable control modes. You can use a GameCube controller (definitely the preferred controller), sideways remote (ugh), remote/nunchuk, or Classic controller. If you don't like certain button assignments, you can go ahead and change them. Want to attack with Z? Want to jump with R? Want to shield with B? I don't know why you would ever actually want to, but you can! This makes the controls truly flawless, no denying that.
It took awhile to say it, but Super Smash Bros. Brawl is the best game ever made. It may not have quite as high a score from me as, say, Mario Galaxy or Zelda: Twilight Princess (I give both games 10s), but the game is so loaded with stuff to do that it'll last for years and doesn't get old. The online play was a drag, but that hasn't affected the game as a whole. Brawl is still amazing, huge, and worth the wait!
(this does not necessarily affect the overall score)