Release date: March 20, 2018
Developer: Omega Force
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
If you watch anime or have even the slightest knowledge of it, chances are you’ve heard of Attack on Titan. In the last few years alone, the franchise has grown to be a globally known property that’s quickly making its way up the ranks to the likes of Tokyo Ghoul, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, and One Punch Man in terms of surge of popularity, and it shows no signs of slowing down. For its new game, Attack on Titan 2 sees developer Omega Force return for a sequel to the 2016 original, and while that title undoubtedly had issues with its repetitiveness and uninspired progression, this new title feels very much like an overhaul where they’ve learned from mistakes, what worked and didn’t work, and with an attempt to make this a lot more personal and captivating by experiencing the events through the eyes of your created character, rather than simply playing what you’ve watched and read. There are still improvements to be made before we get that perfect Attack on Titan experience, but this is undoubtedly a step in the right direction.
Attack on Titan 2 sees players go through the events of season 1 and 2 of the anime in a nice mashup and looking through the eyes of the character you’ve created. Sharing a similar fate to Eren Jaeger as a child having lost his parents from a Titan attack, you grow up training and rising through the ranks to eventually join the Survey Corps and go outside the walls to slay Titans and give humanity hope at survival.
The character creation feature is surprisingly deep, and it gave me the ability to make a character that best defined myself and how I felt I would “look” like in that universe and in that situation. Being a massive Attack on Titan fan, I wanted the best experience possible and really wanted to put myself in my character’s shoes. There are a lot of options to choose from that will appease a whole array of players, starting with male and female choices, and then from there going on to edit hairstyles, noses, jaws, blemishes and scars, the width, rotation and height of most bone structures, and so much more. You’re able to make your character as unique as possible while still retaining that Attack on Titan look and feel that Hajime Isayama, the series creator, has so eloquently crafted.
What takes personalization and immersiveness a step forward was that even though you’re going through the events of the first two seasons, when I saw you’re looking through the eyes of your character, you really are. All pre-rendered cut-scenes are in first-person, and between the flying around with your ODM gear, seeing Titans and your comrades up close, and witnessing past events in a whole new perspective, it’s a side of Attack on Titan that, if you’re a fan, is an absolute treat to see.
The first game didn’t do much when it came to innovation or providing anything new – you were literally just playing through season 1 frame for frame in a repetitive fashion that saw you doing the same thing until credits eventually rolled about 8 hours later – but in Attack on Titan 2, a lot of new mechanics, RPG elements, UI upgrades, and overall quality of life adjustments have been made to give a vastly superior experience to its predecessor. New story content and events that haven’t been seen in the show or manga are also included. I didn’t realize how tedious and mediocre the first game was until I started playing Attack on Titan 2, and it didn’t take me long to come to that conclusion; Attack on Titan 2 feels whole.
Hajime Isayama’s popular anime has spawned a multitude of games, but most have been seen exclusively in Japan. There have been visual novels and mobile games, but the only one we really received outside of Attack on Titan in 2016 was Humanity In Chains on 3DS which… is a thing that happened. Much like Spider-Man, swinging around is a big component to the Attack on Titan series, and if that doesn’t feel good, then the foundation of your game already begins to shatter. You’ll spend a good portion of your time in the air, attaching your gear to buildings and Titans and then using bursts of gas to propel yourself further for quick movement and harsher attacks. Thankfully, this feels really solid and a lot more polished in Attack on Titan 2 than it did in the first title. While it didn’t have much issue in Attack on Titan, it suffered from feeling extremely light and having odd directions in which the ODM gear would attach itself to its surroundings, making for oddly timed jumps and swings that could feel clunky on occasion. Zipping around feels a lot more solid here in Attack on Titan 2, and while it took me a moment to get used to the “heaviness” at first, I came around to it. Ultimately you can make your gear function the way you want to, so if you want to go faster, have farther attachments, stronger bursts of gas, heavier attacks, etc, this can all be customized by buying weapons and gear and upgrading them as you see fit.
There is a plethora of equipment at your disposal, though initially when you begin the game you’ll be stuck with standard cadet gear and blades. Over time, however, as you complete missions and side quests, more will gradually be made at your disposal. You can mix and match or have themed gear sets that each have their own attributes – some focusing on damage, others speed, others dexterity, etc. You’re also able to add passive buffs as well from techniques you learn by having a good relationship with those around you.