Over the course of the last few years, Japanese games have become more frequent towards the Western corner of the globe, which is a welcoming sight given how rich, deep, and diverse these titles tend to be. We’re also seeing a surge of Anime television show game adaptations, which again, is fantastic. One such title is the sequel to 2016s polarizing A.O.T Wings of Freedom. Developed by Omega Force and published by Koei Tecmo, does Attack on Titan 2 build upon what worked in its immediate predecessor, and more importantly, does it live up to the hype? Yes, yes it does.
Attack on Titan isn’t for everyone, I’ll say that much. In a nutshell, humanity is on the brink of extinction and those that remain are faced with the devastating Titans. These formidable towering enemies have forced the few that remain to go into hiding within the confines of a heavily fortified city, built three walls thick. It was only a matter of time before the Titans penetrated the outer wall and started to wreak havoc, and well, eat humans in the process. Now, the fate of humanity lies solely in your trainee hands. That’s right. Players take on the role of a rookie soldier, one that lost their parents during a Titan attack in years gone by. Safe to say, you have a lot to fight for, and a score to settle once and for all.
Starting out your adventure to become a member of the 104th Cadet Corps, you’re immediately able to create your own player, male of female. There’s a wide range of different customization options to select from, ensuring that you have plenty of tools to craft a hero of your choosing. Note, the game is entirely delivered in Japanese, meaning the story and dialogue is thrown at you via subtitles. One odd design choice that stuck out for me was that Attack on Titan 2 takes place, initially, during the early parts of Season One. I say this is odd because the first game is based on Season One, when you would logically think that a sequel to that game would immediately begin at the start of Season Two.
This isn’t a massive gripe, especially for newcomers, but those that follow the show and have played WoF, may well be left frustrated that they cant get straight to the nitty gritty. It doesn’t help matters that the cutscenes are overly time consuming, pushing the journey from Season One to Season Two, to extraordinary length. My first three hours with the game gave me just one hour of playtime, and much of that consisted of training and tutorials. Again, not so bad for the newcomers, but a nightmare for those that just want to get stuck in without the fluff. That being said, the game does a good job at feeding you the basics of play, such as how to use your ODM equipment, how to set up mini bases, and more importantly, how to kill those dreaded Titans.
It’s a fun premise, don’t get me wrong, but there’s an overwhelming amount of info to take on board. Mercifully this is alleviated almost completely once you get past your training, that’s when the real fun kicks in. The core gameplay loop remains the same throughout, but it never truly falls victim to senseless repetition, simply due to how satisfying the game is. You’ll be taking on a collection of quests, including fetch quests, protection quests, Titan neutralizing quests, and so on and so forth. Unlike the first game, you cant actually play as heroes from the show. Instead, you can recruit them to aid you in battle. Once you’re done with your training, the game opens up proper. There’s a heap of missions to tackle, and you’re also able to speak to an NPC if you fancy re-running them to get a better grade per-task, S-Rank being the highest you can achieve.
Despite beginning mid-Season One, the game is largely based on Season Two. It’s just a trek getting to that point. If you watch the show, you’ll see a band of familiar faces and will already have a firm understanding as to what’s happening. It’s not a terribly hard story to follow, in fact, quite the opposite. The story sees you following in the footsteps of Eren, who, like you, lost his family during a Titan attack. Eren has just one goal, get past the great walls and kill every single Titan in his way. That, however, isn’t the only thing he’s running to, or from, depending on how you look at it. I wont spoil the story for you, but what I will say is that it’s compelling and deep. There’s often many things going off at the same time, but it never diverts nor strays too far from expectations.
The controls are as smooth as can be, this much is apparent from the get-go. That fluidity sits well with traversal, whether you’re battling with a Titan or simply patrolling the city, it works and feels great. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as flying around the map at high speed, attached to the ODM. The ODM is a unique tool that’s equipped at the waist, and fires out harpoon-like lines that will fling you into the sky (à la Titanfall 2) to help you to grapple onto unsuspecting Titans. The combat in Attack on Titan 2 is equally as well rounded, but doesn’t entirely come without fault. On a few occasions I would attach myself to a Titan, only to find that I would catapult into the air against my will. These occurrences are few and far between, indeed, but it does detract from the otherwise excellent experience.
You would be forgiven to believe at first glance that Attack on Titan 2 is tedious and repetitive. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Sure, the gameplay never really evolves throughout, but it’s massively fun throughout nevertheless. Whether you’re battling large Titans or abnormal Titans, they all need to be killed in the same way, via a well placed sword to the back of the neck. You can also dismember them by slicing off their arms and legs, whichever works for you. It’s to be expected, then, that Attack on Titan 2 is as gory as they come. Playing this game will make you feel like the leading role in a fantasy-based Tarantino flick, and then some. There’s blood everywhere, this certainly isn’t a game for the faint of heart. That much goes without saying.
The RPG elements within are robust enough, if not as in-depth as other well established franchises. There’s a plethora of new and powerful equipment that you can craft and build throughout, using gathered materials taken from the corpse’s of defeated Titans, excavation mines, and concluded missions. The game has a lot going for it, but some minor issues hold it back to some degree. Chief among them is freezing, which as you can imagine is a pain the neck. Thankfully, much like the aforementioned combat issues, this doesn’t persist or occur too frequently. The draw distance could have been better too, but in the grand scheme of things, this is easy to overlook. It’s certainly not as terrible as Koei Tecmo’s Dynasty Warriors 9. Though, that’s a pretty low bar to surpass now, isn’t it? One of the major complaints regarding WoF was that Titan battles were far too easy. In Attack on Titan 2, there’s more of a difficulty curve.
Titans will gradually scale in complexity, which helps to remove that “filler” combat concern from the first game, making space for something much more structured. Special moves, just like traversal, remain easy to execute, but your timing is still vital. Skills can be obtained through your daily life routine, which is a brand new addition to the game. This allows you to build relationships with town folk, something that was absent from WoF. It’s a neat feature, but far from what one would describe as groundbreaking. One particularly stand out addition is the inclusion of Another Mode, which grants you access to some PvE and PvP. You can join another players’ scout, or battle another player in an all out round of who-can-kill-the-most Titans. There’s an offline variation, but it’s pretty much a copy and paste of the online aspect. More characters from the show are unlocked as you make progress through the story, which adds to the already decent portion of replay value.
You’ll also encounter random distress signals from other people, which is useful for those all important rewards. It helps that that experience not only feels great, but looks good too. Attack on Titan 2 captures the heart of the Anime counterpart very well. The towns are well developed and detailed, the wide open fields are decent – despite merely serving as a ground to kill Titans, and the details in between are equally as commendable. The same can be said about the character animations, including the design of the Titans. It all goes hand in hand to put forward something that ultimately feels compelling and intriguing. The soundtrack is also on point, bringing an extra layer of energy to an already action-packed and energetic outing that will have you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. This game isn’t just an improvement in comparison to its predecessor, it’s a solid entry that does justice to the source material in nearly every way imaginable, warts and all.
Attack on Titan 2 greatly improves upon its predecessor in nearly every way, but still comes with a few issues such as periodical freezing, and at times, poor control feedback. With these small problems to the side, this game undoubtedly does justice to its source material. Attack on Titan 2 is fast-paced energetic fun at its finest.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.