By Jason Quinn / April 11th, 2018
|Title||Attack on Titan 2
Koei Tecmo Games
|Publisher||Koei Tecmo Games|
|Release Date||March 14th, 2018|
|Platform||PS4, PC, Xbox One, Switch|
|Age Rating||M for Mature|
Attack on Titan 2 is an action game developed by Koei Tecmo. The same developers behind the Warriors or Musou series of games. The structure of this game has a lot of similarities. The game follows the first and second seasons of the anime. Though the twist is that rather than playing as one of the characters from the show, you get to create your own character. Even with this addition however, the game’s story doesn’t deviate too much from the source material.
On the story front, Attack on Titan 2 does a very good job of replicating the anime. Any positives or negatives the story contains in the anime are carried over here. I don’t want to this to be an anime review, but one of my issues is that characters can be a bit underdeveloped. This game actually has a pretty neat way of addressing this. As you go through the game and complete missions with certain characters, your relationship with them will grow stronger. When the relationship levels up, you get to see a special scene with them. Think of it like social links from the Persona series.
As for what your own created character brings to the story, it’s really not much. Your character was conveniently living in the same town that the shows protagonist, Eren Jeager, is from. This means that his motivations effectively become your own motivations. Your created character doesn’t have much of a personality in story cutscenes. They just kind of nod in agreement in response to whatever the characters from the show are saying. However, you do have a little bit more agency outside of that when conversing with characters. You can choose from a variety of dialogue options, and certain ones will increase your relationship with them.
Overall, I don’t think the created character was meant to be a real substantial addition to the Attack on Titan story, but rather just a way to give players the feeling of going through the Attack on Titan story through their own eyes. It also allows you to get to know the various characters of the series a little more, which is very nice. My favorite thing about this feature is that you can fully customize your characters appearance. So while everyone else is walking around in the usual brown jackets, I had my character with a garish green and purple outfit.
In the anime, in order to take down the massive titans, people use omni-directional maneuver gear. This allows them to swing around from buildings in order to get behind titans and slash at their fatal weak point, the nape of the neck. As to how this idea carries over to a video game, I’d honestly be hard pressed to imagine this idea being executed any better than it is here. The game handles a lot of the tricky stuff automatically. Movement is remarkably easy and intuitive, though there’s enough nuance to it so that it has a bit of learning curve. Attacking is also quite easy as well. Simply locking onto a certain part of a titan and pressing a button will having you zooming towards it. After that, it’s just a matter of timing.
The trick to the combat is all mostly about positioning and timing. For example, if you want to take off the arm of a titan, you need to make sure you’re approaching it from a good angle and the target isn’t obscured. You also need to make sure you’re pressing the attack button at the right time. Too early or too late, and you’ll do very little to no damage. The second most important thing in combat is resource management. Swinging and zooming around uses up gas, while attacking damages your blades. If you run out of gas, you won’t be able to swing around, and if your blades get destroyed, you won’t do any damage. Making sure you’re full up on both is crucial.
Cutting off titan parts can get you crafting materials you can use to upgrade your weapon and gear. So only going for the kill shot at the nape of the neck might not always be the best option. Fortunately, limbs have special markers to indicate if you get material from them, so you know if it’s worth cutting off an arm or two, or if you should just save time and kill them.
Now we’ll get to how missions play out. I said before that the developers of this game also made the Warriors or Musou games, and it certainly shows. Maps are giant arenas, with multiple points of interest on them, and enemies scattered throughout. Missions will take you on various objectives throughout the map. These objectives can be escorting other characters, helping them defeat some titans, or protecting some sort of base. Though the actual objective doesn’t matter too much since everything is resolved the same way: killing every titan you can see.
Swinging back around to the create a character feature, this brings some interesting things to the gameplay as well. As your relationships with other characters improve, you might learn various skills from them. These skills range from passive stat boosts, to new attacks. This means you can customize your character quite a bit.
Visually, the game is quite impressive looking, doing a great job of emulating the look of the anime. While some of the pre-rendered cutscenes look absolutely amazing, a lot of the in-game cutscenes fall a little flat. The overall animation quality is rather poor. The biggest offender here is that when a character has to turn around and walk away, their model just rotates in place rather than actually turning around. Still, I feel like the focused most of their budget where it counts. If the fantastic movement means we have to have janky cutscenes, I can deal with it.
Much like the Attack on Titan show, the game has a fantastic soundtrack. A bombastic orchestra and choir perfectly accentuates the climaxes in the story. In fact, I could say just this coupled with the movement mechanics account for most of the enjoyment in the game.
While this all sounds fantastic so far, there are some downsides here. My biggest issue is unfortunately inherent to the source material itself. Titans are just not really very interesting enemies to fight. They just kinda lumber around, and most of the time just seem like they’re standing there waiting for you to lop off their arms and legs and kill them. When they do attack, it’s incredibly easy to dodge, since again, they’re just these big, slow giants. There are some unique titans that serve as bosses, though the strategies are pretty much the same. They move around a bit more, and often have just way too much health. I was even hitting the damage cap sometimes, and that would only take out a small chunk of their health bar.
The worst part about fighting titans is the camera though. When you go in for attacks, the game often likes to switch to this cinematic camera angle, and sometimes it just doesn’t have the intended affect. Sometimes all I can see is a screen full of titan, and after the camera fixes itself, it can be hard to get my bearings. This issue gets even worse when there are multiple titans around, or fighting a titan that moves around quickly.
The other issues is that this game is immensely repetitive. Fighting titans isn’t very interesting, and this is compounded by having to kill 20-40 every mission. Most of what this game has to offer can be experienced in the first few missions. As fun as the movement system is, it eventually loses its novelty. Once this happened, the game just couldn’t hold my interest any longer. Fortunately, my interest waned about the time the story ended. Unfortunately, there was still a lot of things I haven’t seen, and even new features opened up after this.
I hadn’t come anywhere close to maxing out my relationships with the characters. This means if you want to do this, you’re gonna be replaying missions a lot. After you beat the game, you unlock the feature to do sidequests in certain story missions to save characters that die in the story. This allows you to level up your relationship with them. I really think this feature should’ve been available from the beginning. I guess they wanted to stick to the story as much as possible, but if they’re offering a self-insert for players, I don’t see why they couldn’t do this as well.
Still, while Attack on Titan 2 does have issues, I can certainly recommend this even to people with only a passing interest in the show. It’s a little janky, and the repetitiveness eventually overshadows the novelty, but it’s a fun ride. I got about 35 hours out of it before I put it down, and that’s not too shabby. There could easily be folks out there that could get far more out of it, as I didn’t even touch the higher difficulty mode you unlock after beating the game. I think the only thing that would give me pause is the game’s price. It’s currently $60, and I’d personally wait until you could get it for maybe $40 or so.
Review copy was provided by the publisher.
ActionAttack on TitanKoei TecmoPCPS4SwitchXbox One