Attack On Titan 2 Review – More of The Same
Platform: PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4 (reviewed)
Developer: Omega Force
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Release: 20th March 2018
Attack On Titan is probably one of the most popular anime and manga series out right now, besides SAO or One Piece for instance. Naturally, game adaptions of those are almost necessary to effectively milk the franchise. Though instead of Bandai Namco, Koei Tecmo could snatch the license, now delivering the sequel to their quite acclaimed adaption of the first season.
In short, Attack On Titan 2 follows the events already known from the predecessor, just adding the second season on top of them. However, this time we don´t play as Eren or other famous ones but as a custom character which has to be created at the beginning. So pre-rendered cutscenes are filmed from the first person, often displaying iconic moments from another side.
In most cases this rather intriguing concept is implemented to solely create another angle on over-used and -marketed battles, while still offering the time with Eren or Mikasa fans crave. Especially since it once again follows the first season, which by now should be familiar to anyone in its entirety the minor changes in perspective can´t add too much of fresh paint on it. The character never is truly involved, acting more like an observer and body for a camera than a living human being who fears the Titans just as much as any other one. At no point did I feel connected to him, always feeling way more invested with the non-playable cast, probably because no one actively names drops the player during the epic moments, a downside of having custom names.
Not to say that plot is bad, Attack On Titan´s story is actually pretty damn great and every newcomer should experience it at least once. Sadly, there are just so many better ways to do so, rendering the detailed recycling during the first half more boring than ever. Only the last third that adapts the second season in an okay manner, basically copying the anime in many regards, could make the full price investment worth it for people already familiar with the predecessor.
Other changes are just as small, as Attack On Titan 2 mostly sticks to the already well-working systems. The base gameplay consists of two components: Navigating with the Vertical Maneuvering Gear and slaying titans.
The former may sound complicated but proves to be super straightforward, shoot the ropes with one button press and shoot forward with the joystick. Additional moves like boosting and wall running, mixed together with velocity physics manage to create a really satisfying, fast and easy to learn gameification of Attack on Titan´s iconic machine. After some minutes I could control the whole thing without any problems. Naturally, there are not too many challenging aspects but for the simple fun this game aims for, it´s a surprisingly well working thing. On the other hand, changes to the previous systems are minimal, focusing more on straightening everything up.
Same in terms of combat, attacking a titan is rarely harder than a few button presses. Lock on their neck or other extremities, press another button to speed at them and slash them into pieces. Relying more on timing to keep the player invested than complexity, finding the right angle for each target, the right timing and on the fly adjustments are the keys to mastering the very easy system. Throughout the whole game repeating the ever same moves might sound repetitive but comes out as a rather fun experience due to their simple but very rewarding nature.
Typical for Omega Force, the mission design becomes quite repetitive as changes are minimal if any. Given, Attack On Titan 2 still profits from the fact that the source material offers an immensely rich chain of events and characters, like Eren who´s able to transform into a titan. While aerial combat against titans is the biggest chunk of the game, often in the ever-same looking town or fields, the titan versus titan encounters, boss battles against the truly gorgeous beast titans for example and alike, manage to overshadow the lacking design with feelings of nostalgia.
Additionally, it´s now possible to interact with your favourite characters between missions in so-called camps. The more you chat with them, go on missions and simply interact, the more your bond gauge rises with them. A pretty basic system that, once again, lives from your nostalgia or love, who wouldn´t like to have a chat with Mikasa and gain rewards the more your friendship advances. If such systems, infused with some basic side quests, of course, are your thing, Attack On Titan 2 can be an incredibly diverse and fun game.
Especially because it looks very appealing, copying the anime/manga art style in an amazing way. Every character, house or environment looks nearly the same as in the original work, infused with fitting colours and overall pretty good performance on PS4. Due to the fact combat is very fast-paced, most textures don´t have to look great from a short distance, allowing for a near stutter free experience, which conceals its weaknesses in the pacing. Mixed with stunning looking pre-rendered cutscenes, underlined by a soundtrack that´s Attack On Titan worthy, everything really feels like a playable anime.
While Dynasty Warriors 9 disappointed, Attack On Titan 2 can actually deliver exactly what it promised: More of the same. It could be criticised for doing nearly the same as the predecessor, just from a different, custom perspective, only having new things taped to the formula. Still, in the end, the gameplay stayed fresh enough to never bore me and the asked price may be worth it for fans, thirsty for more Attack On Titan or eager to re-experience this epic from the beginning.
[A Review Code was provided by Koei Tecmo Europe]