The Pokemon series has always made it easy to trade and battle with friends and strangers online, and Black and White 2 are no exception. Since the game wasn't released before I completed this review, I wasn't able to find any random opponents online to battle, but jumping into the random battle room is as easy as ever. You'll still need those annoying friend codes to jump directly into a match with a buddy, but thanks to the in-game Pal Pad, sharing your code and registering a friend's is quick and easy. After completing the main campaign of Black/White 2 you can even trade with trainers from the Diamond, Pearl, HeartGold, and SoulSilver versions, so your Ho-Oh, Dialga, Reshiram, and Kyurem can finally exist side-by-side.
Aesthetically, Black/White 2 are almost exactly the same as their predecessors, right down to many of the same random sprites used repeatedly throughout the game. There are some new trainer and attack animations, as well as minor tweaks to the battle screen, map, and menu, but Black/White 2 treads a lot of familiar ground. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, since all games in the series are similar by nature, but feeling like you've seen it all before only highlights the repetitiveness of the Pokemon games.
As for what version of the latest iteration you should pick, there are some minor differences in the Pokemon you'll encounter, but you'll only really notice the aforementioned black and white versions of Kyurem. Either way, you'll have hundreds of Pokemon to potentially capture, including some from outside of the Unova region, which was a pleasant change. I was happy to be able to capture a Psyduck within an hour of playing, whereas in Black and White Pokemon from the previous generations took a lot longer to find.
There are times when Pokemon Black and White Version 2 feel a little too familiar, especially when you're exploring the same towns, roads, and caves from the previous game. Once you assemble a solid team and start earning gym badges, though, you won't care. The series' trademark charm and addictive challenges will make you want to keep playing, and you might have trouble putting down your system as you pursue the next opponent, next gym badge, or next legendary Pokemon. In addition to the 20-or-so-hour campaign, there's plenty of postgame content and extra stuff to do, so you might have this cartridge in your DS or 3DS for a long time. It might just be a holdover until the next generation of Pokemon arrives, but it's still a good way to pass the time.
Bottom Line: Despite the addition of new towns and trainer gyms, you can't help but feel like you're following in your own footsteps if you've already played Pokemon Black and White.
Recommendation: If you've never understood the obsession, Pokemon Black and White 2 aren't going to change your mind. But if you're interested in an addictive, challenging experience, you might just find yourself charmed.
This review was based on the DS version of the game.