Game Review

by Heidi Kemps,

Attack on Titan 2

PS4, Xbox One, Switch

Description:
Attack on Titan 2
Attack on Titan 2 is the gripping sequel to the action game based on the worldwide hit anime series "Attack on Titan." Experience the immense story of the anime alongside Eren and his companions, as they fight to save humanity from the threat of the deadly human devouring Titans. Try your hand in operating the omni-directional mobility gear, maneuvering and flying through the sky to counter the Titans, and feel the thrill and satisfaction of battling giant opponents.
Review:

Omega Force's record with anime and manga adaptations is a bit spotty. We've had disappointments like Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage and Berserk and the Band of the Hawk, but we've also had some real winners in One Piece Pirate Warriors and Gundam Warriors. Their first attempt at an Attack on Titan was solidly “good but not great,” so would the sequel be a meaningful improvement? I'm pleased to say that the answer is a firm “Yes.”

What's new in this go-around? For starters, the game covers a lot more story ground than the original, venturing into the events of Season 2 of the anime series. The overall movement and combat's been spruced up, allowing you to target and hack off individual Titan body parts and perform expert maneuvers like sneak attacks and a dodge-and-slice, and offering more strategic options for drawn-out battles. The biggest new feature, however, is that you go through story mode using an original created character rather than simply assuming the roles of familiar faces from the show. While you can play as old favorites in the “Another Mode” missions, the main game will be viewed through the eyes of your created avatar. Along the way, you'll be able to interact with and befriend members of the Attack on Titan cast to see unique character vignettes and earn special skills.

Fans of the series will probably be eager to hop into the events of season two of the anime, but they'll have to hold their horses a bit. Attack on Titan 2’s story mode is divided into five chapters, the first three of which cover familiar story beats. You'll need to play through about half of the game to get to the “new” content – well, “new” as in “not yet seen in videogame form,” anyhow. That's several hours of retreading old ground before you get to one of the game's biggest selling points.

Fortunately, that's not as big of a pain in the neck (pun 100% intended) as you might think, simply because the core gameplay of Attack on Titan 2 is a lot of fun. The various improvements that Omega Force have made to the game, both large and small, make for a very enjoyable Titan-slaying experience.

Throughout the game, you'll be given various missions in typical Warriors style. Whether it's “kill all the Titans”, “protect this person,” or “guard this point of the map,” pretty much everything you'll need to do involves taking down a bunch of hideous, hungry Titans rampaging around a large map. True to the source material, these towering terrors are a pain to take down: their limbs regenerate after a short time and their skin is quite tough. The only way to kill a Titan is to hit its weak point at the nape of its neck: a task easier said than done.

Fortunately, you've got a lot of tools at your disposal. You've got both your ODM Gear and a gas boost to help you soar through the air, scale tall structures, and reach new areas quickly. Moving around in Attack on Titan 2 feels wonderful, as the ODM Gear and boost combination lets you sling across huge maps and reach destinations quickly. There's always a lot going on in these missions, but the freedom of movement you've given makes dealing with all the various missions, sub-missions, and meandering enemies that crop up feel intuitive and fun. Your ODM Gear's gas can run low, however, so managing it can be challenging, especially during lengthy battles. Thankfully, you've also got a nice ground movement option with speedy horses, which you get access to after the game's first chapter. Making use of all the movement options available to you is both engaging and enjoyable.

Fighting the Titans is also a thrilling experience. When taking on these monstrosities, you can either choose to sever their limbs first – which can hamper their movements and attacks and cause them to drop valuable equipment upgrade items – or go straight for their necks. There are advantages and disadvantages to each approach: debilitating tougher titans is a sold strategy, and getting more loot is always nice, but when a gaggle of titans is gulping down your teammates you're going to need to focus on killing them as quickly as possible instead. But Titans aren't easy pickings. Effectively dealing damage to them requires speed, timing, and a calculated approach to land a clean cut – something that's not easy to do when they're running and wriggling about.

You don't always have to do a direct approach to take Titans down, however. A high-risk, high-reward sneak attack skill allows you to do massive damage to a Titan by taking them off-guard with exact timing – but if they see you plotting a strike, you're very quickly going to become their number one lunch priority. (The effect when a Titan decides to focus its anger on you, causing the screen to turn red and gray, is downright distressing.) But there's also an extremely skillful strike you can pull off by dodging and attacking at the precise moment a Titan tries to grab you, which is both satisfying and relieving when you manage to pull it off. Even if you're an ace at one-shotting Titans, however, there's no way you'll be able to take down every one of them on your own. Thankfully, you can call upon others on the field to aid you in various ways with a simple controller combination.

The battlefields themselves can also aid you in your struggle. New to Attack on Titan 2 are bases you can build at various points across the maps. These bases give a variety of benefits like allowing you to restock your expendable items like gas canisters and blades, dealing extra damage to nearby Titans with cannon fire, or even just mining extra loot for you to collect when the mission's over. Figuring out when and where to build specific bases, and making good use of them, adds a new layer of strategy that complements the combat quite well.

Though fighting Titans does get a bit repetitive at times, it never stops feeling satisfying, which is important. Visual flourishes like special camera angles when you achieve a perfect Titan kill make you feel really good every time you take one down. New options that appear as the game progresses, like the ability to capture debilitated Titans, reward you for changing up your approach to combat over time, even if the core gameplay remains largely the same. Titan-slaying is just plain fun, and that's what makes Attack on Titan 2 such a strong adaptation of its source material.

While combat is clearly the game's high point, it stumbles significantly in the implementation of the player-created avatar character. From the moment you witness the destruction of Shiganshina alongside Eren and Mikasa, it always feels like you're just a second banana, simply watching as all the famous characters from the show get to do the cool and important stuff in recreated scenes from the anime. It's fun to form friendships with the series's characters and see cute little scenes of them made exclusively for the game, but other than that, your presence in this world doesn't affect much. No matter how many times you're thanked by others for taking some Titans down, it doesn't feel like you impact the story in a meaningful way, and that's a huge waste of potential.

Overall, though, Attack on Titan 2 is a solid endeavor for Koei-Tecmo and Omega Force. It looks and sounds great (though the lack of an English dub option seems like a tremendous oversight), it represents its source material well, and it's just plain fun to play. Attack on Titan 2 is easily the best game adaptation of the series yet, and an enjoyable experience in its own right.

Grade:
Production Info:
Overall : B
Graphics : B+
Sound/Music : B
Gameplay : B
Presentation : B

+ Various gameplay improvements over the first game, movement feels fantastic, lots of options for character customization, consistently satisfying combat
Customized avatar character doesn't impact the story at all, takes a while to get into season two content, no English dub option

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