Yesterday really made my day. Getting a game early on launch and playing it for the majority of the day made me feel like I was back in college, playing 30-minute melee battles one after another. I won't go into statistics, so we'll just say I played more than x hours. Of course, if you're from Rome, you'd know exactly how much time I've spent so far.
Let's dive into the nitty-gritty without spoilers, shall we?
The single-player mode is surprisingly well-thought out. How Melee did it in the past made it a tad shallow and more tedious than fun. With Brawl, the story's more fleshed out, and the enemies are more varied. Plus, the levels were more game-themed than previously done. Together, the single player mode is efficient and decent enough to satisfy the right amount of gameplay without the tedious factor.
Enemy AI has also gotten itself a tweak for the more hardcore, even at its "Normal" setting. Perhaps my skills are softening, but the enemies feel very balanced in power and strength, from the weak ones to the really difficult sunuvabitch jerks. Sometimes I get ridiculously outnumbered, and some of the enemies' fighting tactics are so precise that every time I get up, I'm set up again to take another blow. But nothing in there has been so stubborn enough for me to chuck my controller at, especially later in the game where the difficulty has been obviously ramped up a notch.
Despite how adequate the single-player element is, it's not an accurate measure to what the multiplayer brawl battles are like. That's not a nod in the negative direction - the brawl mode is essentially pure. Compared to brawl, single-player seems more clunky and slower - which initially put a damper on the game's outlook. After a few missions, however, that's clearly not the case. The speed is just right, and soon enough my past GameCube skills took over and felt right at home.
And the online capabilities are interesting, to say the least. I haven't gotten into any online brawls yet, but from what I hear from friends, it's a pretty smooth ride. For now, I'm happy to be able to select "spectator" and just watch other people duke it out. Plus, the sudden downloads of random movies and custom levels is a nice incentive to keep connecting online.
It's really hard to find anything wrong with this title, but then again I'm speaking on a veteran bias. If I had to nit-pick, I'd say that the enemy AI can sometimes get borderline asinine, and then there are the typical "if-the-game-is-online,-it-should-have-chat-and-wait-rooms," or something similar. But really, as long as you can fight online, isn't that all you need?
By the way, I'll post up my friend code later this week, if anyone out there wants to lay the smackdown on me.