When the developer Omega Force first announced the original Attack On Titan, many fans of the manga and anime, including me, were predictably excited. The unique omnidirectional mobility gear that the characters in the anime could make it almost like a gritty version of Spiderman in a unique setting with cool characters and epic transformations. The game faithfully followed the story and gave us a thrilling taste of the frenetic action that I thought would have difficulty being translated into a game.
It was a very solid foundation to be built and expanded upon but was the two-year development enough time to make it a substantial leap worthy of being a full-fledged sequel or is it more like a glorified DLC? Let's break it down.
Attack on Titan 2 is available for purchase on Amazon for $59,99.
If you ever read the manga or watched the anime, you'll be familiar with the story as it still follows the source material faithfully with a few additions here and there to make it a more meaty game. Even though it was heavily marketed as being more focused on the second season of the anime it actually starts you off from the beginning of the story as the Colossal Titan tears down the walls protecting humanity and regular Titans come pouring in through the hole devouring everyone they come across.
Que the anime protagonists Eren, Armin and Mikasa losing everything dear to them and vowing revenge on the Titans by joining the only military branch worth a dime – the Survey Corps. Your player-created character is then inserted as having always been there, somewhere near the established protagonists. Having gone through a similar tragedy and inspired by one of them you make a similar angry fisted vow to rid the world of the Titan menace.
It's a cool way of making you take part in every pivotal and iconic moment from the show and a great way to give a certain level of freedom to expand the story with a unique perspective. You'll interact with just about every Attack on Titan character under the sun and it's quite unfortunate that your dialogue choices are tied to skill unlocking and progression. This often makes the system feel pointless and the personality of your character set in stone as you will always go for the goodie-two-shoes inspiring dialogue choice even if you don't feel like it. Seeing as character creation is actually robust, the characterization is a missed opportunity as your mute character is a boring and naive protagonist with no interesting character traits whatsoever. Had there been a system where different dialogue options unlock different skills would actually make the game worthy of multiple playthroughs as you wouldn't be able to unlock everything in one go.
All in all, the story is presented in a manner that's friendlier toward players who hadn't had the chance to play the first game or people totally new to Attack on Titan in any shape or form. This is due to the story, once again starting from the beginning and you being the totally new character in the vein of other amnesiac protagonists that need to be spoon-fed the information about the world. Dragonball does the story rethreading in every game an no one minds as each game brings something new to the table that makes it worthwhile gameplay-wise. So let's see what's new here to justify the repeat.
If I can say that something was absolutely nailed in the first game, I'd had to say that it was the 3D maneuvering gear combat system. It nailed the sense of movement and speed but also made player skill matter which in turn resulted in a very satisfying Titan slicing even after hours of gameplay. Well, I'm happy to say that this remains true for the sequel with some additions to further improve and deepen the system.
You can launch your character sky high at a press of a button if there is a tall enough structure nearby. You can also propel yourself forward mid-air with a boost of sorts that helps bridge the gaps between two far away anchor points or gain speed for an extra punch to your attacks. There's also a stealth mechanic where you can sneak on the unsuspecting Titans, scan their weak points and one-hit kill them.
As I mentioned, the entire system works well and slicing Titans can be addicting as the controls are tight and require timed button presses that you need to get a feel for. Whether you go for Titan limbs to limit their mobility and attack capabilities or go target their nape for a kill – the damage you do depends on your positioning, speed and the time of a button press. All in all, there is enough variety in the environments, Titan types, equipment and your combat options to keep it all fresh throughout. There is a sort of free play mode that enables you to play with many franchise characters but most of the time it's just a reskin as each of them plays exactly the same. Luckily, what's different and absolutely cool about this mode is that you can play as the Titan shifters and become a Titan yourself which is as awesome as it sounds.
It's not all slicing Titans, however. The HUB area enables you to partake in scout missions with a team of your choosing to farm materials for gear upgrades. Choosing your teammates is great if you prefer some characters over others for their personality or if you want to improve your relationship with them in order to get upgraded. Along with these RPG elements and skill unlocks through dialogue, there is also base construction to aid you in the war efforts. These can be constructed in the field and equipped with various upgrades depending on what you are going up against. Unfortunately, base improvements are also locked behind affinity and friendship levels that I already mentioned as being on sort of autopilot in terms of possible choices.
Teammate AI has seen some improvements over the original. You can still issue rudimentary commands and direct them but they seem more capable and helpful when left to their own devices. The Titans improved a bit and if you stay in their sights too long they go into a frenzy which increases their attack damage and speed as their only goal in life becomes to eat you for lunch ASAP. This can be quite panicky and really helps to bring you closer to the despair that the Titans envoke in the show itself.
The multiplayer consists of chaotic PVP mode where two opposing teams compete to bring down as much Titans as possible in a given time limit and the co-op mode for scout and story missions which is fun but makes the game a bit too easy in my opinion.
VISUALS AND AUDIO
Right from the get-go, the developer explicitly stated that the Attack on Titan 2 for the Nintendo Switch will be visually inferior to other versions and will be comparable to the first game as it was on the PS3. This is immediately evident as you boot up the game – especially if you've been following the pre-release marketing showcased on more powerful hardware. When compared to other versions, the most prominent differences are in texture detail, less saturated colors and of course – the lower framerate.
With that being said, the game still looks fairly decent, especially when you consider the frenetic nature of the action. I'm always inclined to let the Switch get away with less visually on the account of portability. With that being said, the frame rate definitely brings the overall experience down and I wish it was more optimized as the drops during some of the more chaotic segments resulted in missed button presses and the game losing momentum completely. The game is definitely a much smoother and enjoyable experience on the PS4, Xbox or PC.
Japanese voicework is really solid and it feels like stepping right into the anime. But, as with the first game, the problem of characters talking during combat persists. Since the game is "subtitles only" kind of deal, there's plenty of reading which is difficult when you are in the middle of frenetic navigation and combat segments. I'm an anime fan and I'm already familiar with most of the story events but newcomers could find this a bit more problematic.
+ Fast paced and exciting combat system
– Performance issues
+ Faithful to the source material
– Asset re-usage
+ Multiplayer can be a lot of fun
– Superficial dialogue tied to skill progression
|+ Character creation and enemy AI||– Hard to follow dialogue mid-combat|