When I started playing Attack on Titan 2 I was confused, I was getting an immense feeling of deja vu as I played throughout the story – I’ve been here before, I know this story, whats going on? I’ve not seen the Attack on Titan anime, so I looked into this further and it appears I’m not going mad. Attack on Titan 2 is a re-telling of the original game/series – but through the eyes of our new protagonist – with only the latter part of the game branching into season two territory. That being said, Omega Force has managed to pull off a ‘same yet different’ experience where it’s fresh enough to avoid being a clone of the previous game yet similar enough to spot the differences. The question is though, is the game worth picking up if you already own the first?
As mentioned above, the game is a retelling of the first game/series but from a new perspective.
The game opens with our faceless protagonist up against the female Titan – an event which will happen later on in the story. We are shown some first-person cutscenes (which is how the game gets around allowing you to create a custom character – they just don’t show what you look like) and once the powerful opening battle sequence comes to a stand-off, the game cuts to someone reading our journal. They turn the pages of the journal back to the beginning and proceed to read our account of what had happened to us from day one, as they don’t know if we are male or female they decide to call us “our man” (yet another way to get around the custom created character).
The humans, who have lived secluded for over a hundred years within a walled structure in order to keep them safe from giant naked human-like creatures known as Titans, are now under threat. Over the years, the walls had managed to keep the citizens safe until one day the ‘Colossal Titan’ appeared – he was easily the size of at least 50 titans and was able to easily penetrate the wall and allow the other Titans inside. And so, we are introduced to our protagonist, through their eyes, as their parents are killed. The Corp Cadets rescue the protagonist and take them to safety. As they sit there, trying to show their strength and not tears, they see a boy proclaim to the world that he would one day seek out and kill the Colossal Titan – his name was Eren.
The narrator proceeds to read as we learn our protagonist has grown up with Eren and friends and we have all joined the 104th Cadet Corps in order to help take on the Titans and eventually get our revenge. We regain control of our character, after creating them, during training (which is very similar, if not the same, as the original game) and from here we will go from a trainee to being thrown into the deep-end by people who don’t know we are only a trainee all the way to being part of the team who is assigned to take on the most dangerous Titans.
The story that’s covered this time is a lot more in-depth and a lot more personal as you don’t jump between the various members, this is your story, the story of “insert name here” and their adventure/journey they went on and wrote down for people to read about. If you have played the original game or watched the anime, then a lot of this game will seem very familiar to you but don’t let that put you off, you aren’t getting a 1.5 update, the story isn’t the only thing that’s been tweaked…
As you aren’t playing as the story-characters this time around, you get the chance to make your own character. I went with Fred, above, who is in a constant state of shock/anger/sadness with no pupils and an amazing fashion sense. You can customise everything from their sex, facial shape and features, colour, hairstyles and the clothes colours – you can’t change the types of clothes or have any crazy colours like bright pink hair. As you progress further into the story, you can change these whenever you want – so if you change your mind later one, you’re not stuck with it.
Just because the story is very similar doesn’t mean that Attack on Titan 2 is identical in both the way you play and the mechanics of the game. The Titans have all been improved in both their aggressiveness and their AI – they will still flop all over the place like they did in the first game and they will occasionally just stare at you with their dead eyes – but overall, you have to plan and sometimes setup your attacks – you can’t just fly in there and take them out one after another in every situation. There are a few different types of Titan this time around, from different looking usual ones to beefy ones who take longer to slice their limbs off – each one has it’s own strength and weakness (the back of the neck isn’t the only ‘weakness’ this time around). True, you can still only kill a Titan by severing the back of its neck, but some have glowing bodyparts, take those out and it will instantly stun the enemy.
We are also given the ability to perform a sneak attack on the Titans by holding the R2 trigger – this allows you to use a telescope and activate a long-range attack where you instantly attach and dive straight into the creature – however, if you are spotted whilst setting this up, the titan will become enraged and instantly make you public enemy number one! The Titan will begin to glow red and charge at you like a bull – they won’t stop until you take them down or the cool-down timer has completed. So, if you’re not fast enough – maybe don’t use the sneak attack mode!
Another minor change is the ability to place different types of towers during gameplay, I vaguely remember this from the first game but here you have more options. From a mining tower which will get you more resources at the end of the mission (if it remains erect) to a tower which explodes once a Titan attacks it – there are many different ones with various upgrades to obtain, the most common ones are the manual and auto turrets though. Whats also changed is the fact you no longer get supplies in the field from fellow scouts, you must restock at a supply tower. These towers can be destroyed and rebuild as long as you have enough materials to do so – apart from the explosion ones as once they blow up then that tower site is gone.
Finally, one of the big new additions to Attack on Titan 2 is the ability to capture the Titans and take them back to the campsite for further research! Capture is easy – small Titans just require you to shoot a net-gun at them yet medium and large Titans require you to first slice off both of their legs – so they can’t run away – and then fire the net-gun at them. Not all captures are guaranteed as I have had a few ‘escape’ and return to the battlefield, but the ones you do capture are converted into ‘research experience’ which unlocks new abilities and mechanics. As such, I find that I’m trying more and more to capture the Titans rather than just take them down now, as this usually leads to better things than a few resources you get for slicing their necks.
The biggest overhaul in Attack on Titan 2 comes in the form of the town mode, which you participate in whilst between missions. I’ll be honest here – I didn’t really enjoy these parts as much as other people might. Previously, when you were in town, you would buy equipment, get side-quests, re-do previous missions, and have random chats with people that don’t really do anything. In Attack on Titan 2, they have added a whole ‘relationship’ status into the game where you learn new skills and moves if you build up your relationship with various characters. This involves fighting alongside them in battle to raise their friendship meters, giving them gifts in the town for the same effect and also talking to them and answering simple questions. Once their friendship meter is full, you can literally ‘take it to the next level’ – which will either involve a cutscene of training with dialogue options or instant access to a new skill (and they level up).
Don’t get me wrong – the developers have done a great job of giving everyone a personality and making all the conversations different, interesting and thoughtful – but I just wanted to get back to slaying the Titans and the town sequences would sometimes take about 45-60 minutes to get through if you try and talk to and interact with everyone you have the option to. Also, you can still buy/refine/upgrade your weapons, buy horses, and replay older missions as well as spend your earnt ‘points’. As you complete the game and get decent ranks, you will obtain ‘points’ which can be used to either upgrade the towers or train your individual cadet members (or yourself). The town becomes very big with a lot of things to see and do as you progress throughout the game – I just wish the emphasis on the friendship bonding wasn’t there as I’m a sucker for trophies so I know I have to do it, but I just want to kill things!
One of my major issues, other than the friendship meter, is the controls. I’m happy to say that these are no longer an issue and I can zip along and slice-and-dice with no issues at all – however, at first it took a bit to get used too. Initially, I thought it was because they had changed the controls from the first game, but after loading the original back up I realised they were identical (bar a few small changes). It was just a case of getting used to them again as they aren’t your regular controls – but once mastered, they work really well. You also have to take note of the gear you have – if you’re using gear which is strong but with small reach then you won’t be able to lock-on from far back yet if you have a long-reaching wire with little damage then you need to be using our boost in order to get more oomph in your attacks. There is actually a lot of strategies involved – especially when you throw in the skills you get from befriending people as well, as you only have a set amount of skill points so you must mix and match to create the perfect combination.
Another thing which people may not like (and I was a bit concerned over) is the fact the game is 100% Japanese in terms of audio. Now, I know I poked a bit of fun at the English voice-overs in Dynasty Warriors 9 but in that game, all the in-game text that was being read was just encouragement text. In Attack on Titan 2, the in-game text which is read out whilst you are mid-battle is important things like new objectives, people in trouble, comments on the Titans weak spot etc… This means you have to temporarily stop what you’re doing in order to read it or miss out on the information given to you. Considering Attack on Titan is quite big over in the west with a current English dub for the anime, maybe Koei Tecmo and Omega Force could get the voice actors to dub the game as well next time?
In terms of longevity and trophies though – Attack on Titan 2 will keep you busy for many, many hours with all of the trophies required for the platinum. Not only that, you also unlock scout missions early on which consists of two – five missions one after another where you must complete certain objectives. There is a new competitive mode which allows you to face off against other human players online and you can even work in co-op in freeplay and within the above scout missions. Upon completion of the main story, you will also unlock a NG+ mode, like the original, which is the same but at a much harder difficulty. I probably won’t get the platinum for this game, just like the original, as I don’t have the time to put into it – maybe one day though.
Finally, I just wanted to talk about the technical aspects of Attack on Titan 2. In terms of graphics, I’m not 100% sure on the resolution – the developers have been quoted saying the PS4 Pro version is ‘4k’ – but we know that can mean anything these days – however, on FW 5.50, SuperSampling comes on upon starting it up which means it’s running above 1080p – so there’s that… The art style is once again a cel-shaded effect which makes the game look just like the anime at times. There has been an obvious increase in blood splatter and particle effects this time around – when you slice the Titans neck, blood spurts all over the place which results in all near-by buildings getting covered and even your character is red for a while. I encountered a few minor slowdowns on the PS4 Pro, but not many – these were very rare and only when I was surrounded by a load of Titans and fire effects from the Molotov cocktails.
The sound design is great – bar the issue with the hints and tips being delivered in Japanese. The music is back and better than ever, building up the suspense and the atmosphere of the event whilst the sound effects themselves all sound meaty and spot on. There is nothing like hearing the wind blow through your cape as you line up the perfect angle – then thrust yourself forward and deliver a single swipe of your sword which satisfyingly slices through the Titans flesh and begins the death of the creature of destruction.
The one thing I would say I didn’t like about the presentation was the cutscenes – they look great but they are all pre-rendered and not in-game. As such, all the cutscenes which involve your character are from a first-person perspective where you only see your arms. The problem here is that you have the chance to change the colour of your clothes in the character creation section – so in cutscenes you are wearing the default brown colour. It’s not a big issue, but it’s there. You can also see a clear difference in quality when swapping from in-game to pre-rendered as well.
Attack on Titan 2 improves on the first game in every way, even though we are treading on very similar ground for a large part of the game. If you didn’t pick up the first game then I would strongly recommend this one without hesitation, if you have played the first one then I would still recommend this but with the warning that the majority of the story is going to be almost the same. Omega Force has added enough new features, content and modes to keep everyone busy for many hours and the fact everything is explained and not presumed you already know about things, is a great way to bring in new players. It’s clear to see that they have taken on board all of the criticisms from the first game and used that to their advantage to create the definitive Attack on Titan game – I’m just sadly not a massive fan of the relationship building aspects as I feel they prolong the time between slaughtering Titans.
Attack on Titan 2£54.99
- Tonnes more gore and effects than the original
- The actual gameplay within the levels is perfect once you're used to the controls
- A great re-imagining of the first game/series around your new character
- It's so satisfying to take down a Titan
- Loads of new content with co-op, competitive MP, scout missions, NG+ etc...
- The relationship parts take a while and delay the core action
- Real hints are given in-game - all in Japanese with English text - easy to miss
- The controls do take a while to get used too
- If you played the previous game then expect a very familiar story line for 3/5 of the story