Attack on Titan is one of those franchises that blew up in the West and is regarded as one of the most popular anime series worldwide. After developer Omega Force acquired the license, the team released Attack on Titan for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC in 2016. Evidently the game, as well as the newest season of the anime, did well enough to grant the video game series a sequel with the release of Attack on Titan 2. Before going on, in case you missed it, you can also check out our review of the original Attack on Titan.
In Attack on Titan 2, the developer aims to update all the Titan-slaying systems that were missing from its predecessor. As the game follows new characters, additional story scenes, and more missions, this could very well be the Attack on Titan video game that fans of the series have been waiting for. To my surprise, Attack on Titan 2 replicates the action and drama illustrated in the anime almost perfectly as players relive critical moments from the series from a different perspective.
Attack on Titan 2 begins with a character creator with basic options such as gender and hair type to create your preferred character. Being the same developer of the Toukiden series, I expected more impressive character customization options, but this is just alright. As the game begins players are met with the opening of a journal that tells the tale of a cadet who fought bravely, yet no one knows who they are. The game’s story follows the cadet who, if you haven’t guessed already, is controlled by the player. I really enjoyed this premise and how throughout the game the narrator will revisit with the journal to speed the story along and take it the next chapter.
The game ultimately begins as the 104th Cadet Corps are training, yes, that means we are at the beginning of the story again. Even if you’ve played the first game, the story this time is being told through the eyes of a new character so situations are different and it’s possible to learn more about your favorite cadets through optional conversations. However, it could also feel like padding on the game’s runtime since returning players would probably just want to get to the new content from the beginning. On a personal note, it was a little emotionally tough to rewatch some of the sadder scenes that broke my heart the first time.
After enlisting, some unique features to Attack on Titan 2 are introduced as the player can communicate with other cadets around the base and strengthen their bond together. This is done by responding to the cadet’s comments and statements from a list of three options. Also, talking to some cadets triggers a special story scenario where the characters head off to a different location, and you spend some quality one on one time with them.
Strengthing your bond in Attack on Titan 2 is essential for the sake of being better prepared for battles against large groups of Titans. As you strengthen your bond, new skills are unlocked to use when that specific character is in your party. This feature is executed nicely because you don’t have to go out of your way to improve your bond with the cadets. Each mission raises these levels and the possible bonding scenes found around the base are marked accordingly. However, this feature can also be skipped for those looking to just jump right into the action, and there’s plenty of that as well.
Attack on Titan 2 handles story fanservice well as each character plays off their established personalities, which creates some humorous and dramatic scenes. I ended up having a good time replaying and looking back at a time in the series when the characters were a little careless and then seeing them change into the more experienced soldiers that they become. Playing as an outsider to the group also really adds to the immersion and made me feel as if I had a part in the direction of the story. The story also brings up character’s upbringing, families, and personal goals that have not been explored thoroughly in the anime, which was a nice touch. Although, there were times when the subtitled text blended in too well with the background and was difficult to read.
However, Attack on Titan 2 isn’t all story and character bonding; there is plenty of action to be found. If you enjoyed the battle system in Attack on Titan while using the omni-directional mobility gear, then the controls will feel familiar, but it seems as though the developers have taken some feedback and fine-tuned the systems to not only be more responsive but also easier to maneuver. This was a crucial feature to get right because Attack on Titan 2 has some rather intense moments of action that require the player to have full control over their character and party members.
During a mission, party members can be found around the field or picked up after being assisted. Each character has a different ability such as attack or heal that has a short cooldown after use. These skills come in handy during the tougher missions that require multiple assaults on larger titans. I found myself relying on my party members more and more in the later levels when I had to handle various Titans and objectives in a short amount of time. Additionally, after some chapters, characters are unlocked in Another Mode, which allows you to play as your favorite characters across multiple missions that don’t affect the story.
Some missions objective in Attack on Titan 2 tend to get repetitive, and all revolve around killing Titans, which might be a no-brainer. However, the developer does switch things up a bit by throwing some variety of objectives into the mix like requiring the player to set up bases or protecting a specific ally. In the end, Attack on Titan 2 makes killing Titans mad fun, and once the game’s story takes you to the open fields, new strategies have to be experimented with if you want to excel at your titan-slaying business.
When going up against a Titan, players can choose to cut off limbs or go straight for the kill behind the neck. The most prominent reward for cutting off limbs is to bathe in the blood of your enemies, but if I’m being serious, it’s for materials that can be used to purchase and upgrade weapons and armor. Certain Titans require you to cut off specific limbs before you can go in for the kill and these enemies can often be somewhat tough. The variety of Titans is rather vast, and I found myself in the grasps of probably each of them. They all have their strengths and weaknesses, but they all meet their end in the same way, at the end of my blade.
During a mission, Attack on Titan 2 tends to make you feel like you are genuinely controlling the action. The camera work and speed of the action had me immersed in the action as two comrades ask for help, but I only have time to save one. Additionally, bases can be constructed during a mission which offers various bonuses, aside from restocking your fuel and blades. Some towers have offensive options like climbing into a cannon and blasting away some Titans. I enjoyed these bases, but there was the rare occasion where they were inconveniently placed and I failed a mission trying to get resupplied.
The visual design of Attack on Titan 2’s environments and characters are rather impressive, although some environments seem to be just updated models from Attack on Titan. Animations during the action scenes are pleasant and fluid aside from a few dropped frames, but nothing that stood out as concerning. I also enjoyed the variety of the levels, especially after the game recaps the events of the first season and the story heads to the more open areas featured in the second season.
The music in Attack on Titan 2 does well to assist with the action and is always there to get your heart pumping and ready. During cutscenes, the musical cues were on point and made some of the more intense moments that much more anxiety-inducing. I also felt like the soundtrack flowed well with the combat and was also pleasant during the more relaxed bonding scenes.
Attack on Titan 2 is an action game through and through, but also has time to slow it down for fans that want to spend time with their favorite characters. Furthermore, even though certain mission objects can seem repetitive, the responsive controls and pure fun of killing Titans makes the game hard to put down.
I enjoyed the premise of playing the story through new eyes and watching these events unfold. Also, taking the time to read the character’s journal offers a new layer of immersion for hardcore fans. Attack on Titan 2 is a game for the fans, and the story does well to include critical scenes that those fans will readily recognize. After a few hours, I found that I had mastered the ODM gear and could quickly take down any Titan that came my way along with seamlessly issuing commands to my party members. I was glad to be having fun because this is just what I needed to hold me off until season 3 of the Attack on Titan anime.