Reviewed on PlayStation 4, copy supplied by publisher.
Offering up some of the smoothest anime action you can get your hands on, Koei Tecmo’s take on Attack on Titan is not only faithful to the series, but a dream to play. This sequel seems like it snuck up quickly, with the first installment only coming out at the tail end of 2016 in western markets, but it’s still a welcome addition to the franchise despite some rehashed content.
Usually when discussing a sequel I’d spout off some tired bullshit like “taking off where the last one left off,” but in this case that really doesn’t apply. Attack on Titan 2 may tell the story of the saga’s second season, but in doing so it retreads some very familiar ground. From the perspective of a player-created character, you experience the first and second season events in a “what if” scenario. The notes this hits are very much the same as in the original telling, but with a fresh face interacting with it all. So, if you’re a bit exhausted with the events of the first season, you might find this game a slog at first.
There’s nothing wrong with the story you experience, it still has the horror, excitement and humour the series does so well, but it still feels like more of a remaster of the first game considering you spend a solid chunk of time replaying the same events. In fact much of the game feels and plays almost identically to the first. Additions and the new story do bolster the offering considerably, but if you weren’t won over by the original, you will be hard pressed finding merit in this one.
Although it feels much the same, the action and pacing is still spot on as an adaptation of the series. Moving about is fast, the combat is gory, brutal and tense, and when playing as the more skilled fighters from the series, you really do feel as powerful as they look in the show. In an interview I had with the game’s producer Hisashi Koinuma, he said the sequel is planning to add more horror to the gameplay by making the titans tougher, and whilst I can see how they tried to make this happen -I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t feel almost identical to the first game.
Bolstering the action are new “buddy actions” which play on the relationships you build when you’re not at war with some giant naked dudes. Talking to your fellow recruits you can strengthen bonds by helping them out or selecting the right dialogue, which then translates to a more cohesive team with better skills in the field. It’s a nice touch, and it adds a sense of urgency when you hear your buddies are in trouble during a level. There are also new strategy elements, with bases that you can build to offer your squad more resources, which becomes vital to success as the game progresses.
For fans of the series there are a tonne more characters to select from in this rendition, which makes the co-op, free play and online modes much more thrilling. The free play lets you play as your favourite characters from the show, which is a pretty solid way to sink time – especially if you want to keep besting your scores.
Finally, online play pits teams of four against each other in a titan killing showdown, in which you only get points if you land a killing blow. This requires some solid communication and coordination, but is rewarding if you go into it with a well rounded squad.
Even with the variation in game modes you could be forgiven for finding the gameplay repetitive after extended play. After a while of swinging around and lopping off limbs it can begin to feel like a bit of a chore. That being said, I think this is the ideal game to sink time into over months, not in heavy sessions. I spent a lot of time revisiting the first when the mood to swing around and shank giant people overcame me, and doing so in Attack on Titan 2 feels like an improvement on that, so it’s a win in my eyes.