Over the weekend, Nintendo had a demo for Splatoon called Splatoon Global Testfire available. This was used to help Nintendo test their servers while also giving players a taste of what's to come. Unfortunately, the demo was only held for 3 separate hours at inconvenient times, preventing many people from playing it. As a result, I've written my impressions of the game here for the people who missed it to read.
One thing I immediately noticed about Splatoon that separates it from many other online-focused games was the server stability. While I have had many problems with lag while using Smash Bros. and Mario Kart 8's online play, I never once experienced any lag while playing Splatoon. This was a very pleasant surprise; due to the time constraints of the demo, there was likely a large amount of people playing it at once, so I at least expected a little lag. It is imperative for games like Splatoon to have a near-perfect connection, so Nintendo earns a lot of respect for finally getting online play right.
There are only two maps to play, and they are chosen at random. Saltspray Rig is a big map that is hanging over water. There are big platforms to stand on around the outside of the arena, ut they are not easy to get to. The middle of the map is only accessible by walking along thin pathways. These paths prevent any sneaking around; when players are in the middle of the map, they are always easily visible to the enemy. The outer part of the map contains a plethora of walls, encouraging players to sneak up on their enemies in squid form or take them out with bombs. While this map was a bit confusing to navigate due to the size, this likely will not be a problem once the game is released and players are able to spend more time with the game. The size of the map also impacts it negatively, as players are often separated from each other, making conflict easy to avoid which can lead to a boring map.
On the contrary, it's impossible to avoid fights in Walleye Warehouse. This map consists of a narrow corridor with small areas on its left and right sides and bases at each end. This map has near constant action in the middle area, and allows players to attack enemies from the side while they're distracted with the action going on in front of them. Killing the enemy team can swing the game wildly in the other team's favor, as the bases are easily accessible by a ramp in the central area. Once one team invades the other team's base, the game's pace completely changes. It now becomes a race against the clock for the defending team to rush the enemy out of their base, because if they can't, they will be unable to reclaim the rest of the map.
Although not much can be said about weapon balance due to the fact that there are many different types in each category, from the demo, it seems that it has been handled extremely well. No weapon is clearly better than other with the exception of the Chargers, which will be a lot more useful in the king of the hill style modes, and the Rollers, which are a lot more useful in turf wars. Although I only had a very limited time with Splatoon, I can already tell it's going to be great.