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Attack on Titan 2 Review

Attack on Titan 2

PC

Attack on Titan 2 Review

Attack on Titan 2 on PC

An ugly, contorted face rushed down the road beneath Attack on Titan 2’s Wall Maria as I desperately tried to find a point for my 3D Maneuvering Gear to grapple to lest I get devoured by the giant menace. I manage to hook myself onto a tree in the adjacent courtyard and zoom upward, only to have the monster grab me from behind in midair. It slowly inches me closer to its mouth and opens it wide to chomp down on my head right before my trusted companion Ymir swoops in and cuts away on the titan’s neck to save me. A splash of blood covers my clothing and the ground beneath my feet as the titan falls to his side and fades away.

This was a thrilling experience that I don’t get often in video games, especially those based on extremely popular anime franchises. The anxiety of looking for some means of escape while a Titan shambled its way toward me was real, something that put me in the shoes of the unfortunate Survey Corps that inhabit Attack on Titan 2’s world. What’s more is that none of it felt mechanically out of place, fully immersing me in the would-be future that humans are doomed to live in.

Omega Force’s Attack on Titan 2 is the action RPG follow-up to the studio’s first entry in the series, one that recounts the events of that title while exploring what happens soon afterward. Perhaps the most immediate change from the original game is the ability to create a customizable persona right from the get-go through a system that gives you a surprising array of options to choose from, delving into minutiae like eyebrow alignment, eye expressions, and even thigh size. Though my character roughly ended up looking like an even punier version of Bertholdt, it was a fun little aside to the overall gameplay experience, especially given the fact that I could add whatever color swaps I wanted to my clothing at any time while on the fly. I have to say, I looked quite chic in my pink Survey Corps jacket while slaying Titans left and right.

Of course, if there are fans out there that would much rather fight as one of the franchise’s signature characters, they’ll have a chance to take on their personas as well right from the start. Eren, Mikasa, Armin, and at least 30 other fighters are able to be played when launching the game for the first time, which is a vast improvement from the measly 10 that fans were treated to in the original game. What’s more is that each has their own advantages and disadvantages to being used, as each person’s stats are divided up among strength, agility, health, leadership, concentration and dexterity. Mikasa, for example has 105 strength and 120 agility, making her a good choice should your playstyle be quickly reaching titans to knock them down. Armin, on the other hand, has 105 in both concentration and leadership, meaning he’s not as combat-ready as Mikasa, but has more prowess in commanding troops on the battlefield.

And controlling your comrades to your advantage through the D-pad on your controller can prove to be just as important as knowing how to slice Titan appendages off. Though the system here is more rudimentary to most RTS games on the market right now, it comes in handy when in pinch, as there are only a finite amount of swords, gas canisters, health potions and flash grenades throughout each mission. If one particular area introduces you to a horde of Titans rushing toward your convoy all at once (rest assured, this happens more than once), the user will have to determine whether or not it would be wise to rush in turn, or retreat to a safer area and hide until the monsters scatter. This mechanic fleshes out the Decisive Battle Signal mechanic in the first game and expands upon it in a meaningful way, one that translates well to the title’s anime source material.

Character relationships in the manga and show are just as important as the massive Titan battles that take place, and Attack on Titan 2 allows players to interact and run errands for beloved personas from the anime in order to build trust and camaraderie with them. This principally takes place in the game’s base camp called Town Life, which serves as a hub from which the player can choose to continue on with the story, take on side missions, or talk with various characters. Dialogue decisions affect who you’ll form bonds with, culminating in franchise heroes saving you from getting devoured by a Titan, just like what Ymir did for me. As a custom character, it makes you feel as if you’re actually part of the show and influencing its narrative.

It’s when it comes to plot, then, where Attack on Titan 2 stumbles, is there’s not much here for you to discover if you’ve already seen the show. The five chapters and epilogue that make up the game basically go through everything that happened in the first and second season of the anime, then offer a little sneak peak as to what fans can expect in the anime’s upcoming third season. Journeying through roughly 20 hours of the game just to relive the same moments is boring, even if those moments remove all the filler in between. Sure, getting a chance to control one of the five human/titan transformations in between (Eren, Armored Titan, Female Titan, Colossal Titan, and “Mystery Titan”) shakes up the gameplay a bit, but devoted fans shouldn’t expect a lot of surprises. As far as newcomers are concerned, Attack on Titan 2 shouldn’t serve as their first introduction to the series, as a lot of the mystery and intrigue in the anime is lost due to the game’s fast pace. It’s hard to recommend this game to people who know nothing about the series in the first place, as they simply won’t be as invested in the game’s characters as anime fans are.

attack on titan, season 2, trailer

Though there’s little left to glean from Attack on Titan 2 in terms of the franchise’s overarching narrative, there’s plenty for fans to sink their teeth into when it comes to RPG elements. Loot in the form of clothing, weapons, or gear gathered from besting Titans on the battlefield encourages players to learn how to best manage their troops in order to defeat a Titan and accomplish a mission as fast as possible. Being efficient will not only net players a coveted S ranking, but may even introduce them to sparkly 3D Maneuvering Gear or meat cleavers. The rewards you gather could be true to the anime or be completely outrageous, making for a system that’s whimsical and just outright fun.

Of course, these RPG elements are perhaps most integral when taking on the franchise’s Titans directly. Unlike the first game, these 50-foot giants can’t be defeated with just a swing to the neck once your character has leveled up enough. The game actively encourages players to seek out joints like angles, knees, and elbows in order to damage the Titan to the point where it will be more likely to reach the nape of its neck for the final blow. Should you dare to go there directly, odds are that the Titan will effortlessly grab you in a moment’s notice. The challenge doesn’t fade once you reach higher levels or boost yours stats through the game’s training feature, either, which is a departure from the simple later levels of the first game. The challenge is consistently there throughout the entire game and, to be quite frank, severing a Titan’s head right off its body never really gets old.

Though I didn’t get a chance to try this for myself, Attack on Titan 2’s story mode is entirely playable in co-op. I can’t say whether or not having another player join in on the fun detracts from the experience, though I can say that I witnessed something akin to this while playing the game’s PvP Annihilation Mode. This feature basically pits two teams of four against one another in an effort to find out which group will take down the most Titans before the time runs out. Myself and a couple of enemy players found that more points were rewarded for outright killing Titans than just damaging them, which meant we just waited on the sidelines and let other players do all the dirty work for us. When we saw an opening to land a killing blow, we’d quickly fly to the Titan’s nape to execute it, making for a flurry of capes and confusion in the process. Once the giant was down, we’d go back and wait on the sidelines again. Annihilation was largely boring in this respect and once more people catch on, it probably won’t be what most people devote their attention to.

What they’ll likely realize from playing Attack on Titan 2’s campaign mode is how the game feels like a love letter to fans of the anime. While it doesn’t do anything new in terms of narrative direction, it somehow gets the foundations that made the first game so fun and makes them even more enjoyable, this time adding a level of depth that makes players feel important. It thrusts people into the heart and soul of the franchise, making it one of the best anime games this gaming generation has to offer.

Score: 4/5 – Great


Pros

  • True to the anime and manga franchise.
  • Character creation system.
  • Rich RPG elements.
  • Managing your troops and building relationships.
  • Titans are actually terrifying and hard to beat.

Cons

  • Redundant narrative direction if you’ve watched the anime.
  • Story likely won’t appeal to non fans.
  • Boring online PvP mode.

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