2016’s Attack on Titan was a game that had a lot of potential. It did many things right, and for hardcore fans of the manga and the anime, it was, barring some flaws, a pretty good video game adaptation of a popular property. Unfortunately, those flaws weren’t easy to ignore, so while the game was a lot of fun, it left something to be desired. And while the sequel Attack on Titan 2 is an improvement over its predecessor in several ways, it, too, makes some errors of its own that hold it back from ever being anything more than “pretty good”.
While you could be forgiven for thinking Attack on Titan 2 roughly covers the story of the anime’s second the season, the game actually covers a great deal of season one’s story once again. In Attack on Titan 2, you play as a nameless, faceless character, a Scout who witnesses the events of the show alongside its cast of characters, and the vast majority of it only covers the first season. As a result, it often feels like the game is retreading much of what the first game already did, with a lot of the same story beats and cutscenes, and even a lot of very familiar missions and boss encounters.
“While Attack on Titan 2 is an improvement over its predecessor in several ways, it, too, makes some errors of its own that hold it back from ever being anything more than “pretty good”.”
Attack on Titan 2 feels like a bit of a lazy sequel because of this at times. It does a decent job of being a good jumping in point if you’ve never seen the anime or even played the first game, so if this is your first Attack on Titan experience, this issue won’t matter much. But for those who’ve played the first game, a lot of this feels very familiar. Admittedly though, the world that the anime and the manga portray is an inherently fascinating one, as are the characters that inhabit it, and Attack on Titan 2 does a great job of recreating that.
That said, much like the first game itself, Attack on Titan 2’s strengths lie in the actual acts of fighting titans and of traversal using the ODM. Developers Omega Force have managed to perfectly encapsulate the thrilling, fast-paced movement and action that the anime is known for. Using the ODM to zip around the environments while managing your momentum, without ever touching the ground never stops being fun and exhilarating, and combining these movements with attacks against titans during combat scenarios is just as much fun.
Controlling your character in the middle of hectic battles is usually quite smooth, and battles have a nice and fast flow to them. Interestingly enough, there’s also some level of strategy involved. In addition to having party members with their own attacks and skills, you also have to set up different kinds of bases across the battlefield that provide different kinds of support, from offensive to defensive to providing you with more blades and gas (which is what you need in combat and to power your ODM respectively). These bases come in pretty handy in fights where you’re facing a large number of enemies or when you’re up against a stronger titan, and knowing which ones to place and where to place them is important.
There’s also the matter of where you attack the titans you’re fighting against. Going for brute force can be an effective option, but using specific attacks to cut off their limbs or to slice their neck not only proves to be a more effective strategy that brings a better and more fluid flow to the combat, but also rewards you with materials that you can later use to upgrade your weapons and equipment. The upgrade system, surprisingly enough, is plenty of fun too. It’s not very deep, and it’s not like farming for parts in Monster Hunter, but it brings a nice layer of strategy to battles.
“Using the ODM to zip around the environments while managing your momentum, without ever touching the ground never stops being fun and exhilarating, and combining these movements with attacks against titans during combat scenarios is just as much fun. “
Unfortunately, as the game progresses, the combat does tend to get a little repetitive. Objectives and missions in Attack on Titan 2 don’t have a lot of variety, and ultimately the game has you doing the same thing repeatedly- killing titans. Sure, that’s the point of the game, after all, and in and of itself killing titans is a lot of fun, but when you have do it repeatedly with not much to break the monotony for the entirety of the game, it can get a little grating. There are a few side missions that can be unlocked, but most of them are either too brief or too uninteresting.
What leads up to those side quests is quite more interesting, though. Since the character you play as is also a Scout, you’re with the show’s cast of characters the entire time, and outside of battles, Attack on Titan 2 lets you interact with these characters and develop friendships with them. It’s kind of like Persona-lite – often you get dialog choices, and picking the right choice at these moments increases your bond, while finishing story missions does so too, and having better friendships with these characters opens doors to better and more skills and abilities.
It can be a fun distraction, and for fans of the show, interacting with these characters outside of battle and getting to know more about them and this world can be a fun exercise (something that can also be accomplished by reading the protagonist’s journal). That said, the dialog choices themselves are aren’t really “choices”, since there’s always only one correct answer the game expects you to give if you want to improve your bond, and it usually makes it pretty obvious what that answer is. As a result, they end up feeling somewhat shallow.
Attack on Titan 2 also has an online mode and a co-op mode. Co-op is essentially a string of short, isolated missions that you can dabble in with other players to earn rewards, and it probably won’t grab your interest. The competitive multiplayer, on the other hand, is quite enjoyable. It sees two teams of four players fighting to see who can kill more titans. You can always let the opposing team whittle down the titan’s health before striking the landing blow and stealing their kill- conversely, the same can happen to you too. These matches are usually a great deal of fun.
Attack on Titan 2 is an entertaining game, there’s no doubting that. Traversal is fluid and energetic, combat is fast and exciting, and the game portrays the anime’s world and characters very well. However, it feels like a retread of its predecessor way more than it should, and it also can get quite repetitive as it continues to progress toward the finish line. These flaws hold it back from being a much better game, but the end result it still a pretty solid effort that you can get a good fifteen to twenty hours of enjoyment out of.