For those who have been living under a rock, Attack on Titan is one of the biggest anime and manga properties of recent years, and tells the story of humanity's struggle against a group of man-eating Titans who are threatening to destroy their world. The first Attack on Titan game came out in 2016, and now Koei Tecmo is back with a follow-up, the imaginatively titled Attack on Titan 2.
Those who played the first game may be initially disappointed with this offering as it starts off retelling the plot of the first season of the anime. Where the first game lets players experience things as characters from the series, Attack on Titan 2 presents a brand new character for you to customise and control, so there's a different experience on offer. The character customisation is basic; you can only pick from hairstyles the other characters have, but you can change the colour. Other features give you a bit more choice with sliding adjusters, for example height, nose size, and eye shape, but it’s very limited as a whole package.
Attack on Titan 2 has a very similar feel to the first game, but there are a lot of improvements. The omni-directional gear feels a lot more fluid and it’s easier to nail more precise movements - there’s something really fun about zipping through towns and forests on your ODM. It’s an integral part of the Attack on Titan universe, and it’s executed really well throughout the game. Controlling characters is intuitive, and while the mechanics of fighting Titans takes some getting used to, once you’ve nailed the timing it almost becomes second nature. It’s great that what could have potentially been quite a complex system is actually very simple, making you really feel like a part of the world. It’s the closest we’ll ever get to using a real ODM, after all!
While battles start off relatively simple, as things progress they inevitably become harder. Titans have been adjusted since the first game to be more difficult to beat, and so they act more in tune with the anime versions. Facing off against large, abnormal Titans, you’ll be forced to think tactically to bring down your enemy by targeting its weak spots and completing special moves. Some of these moves are easier to pull off than others, but getting some practice in helps; if you don’t want to do this during missions, there’s always the scouting missions in Daily Life, or in Another Mode.
The main game splits between embarking on missions to progress the plot and the Daily Life section, where you’ll be given the opportunity to build relationships, complete training exercises and go on scouting missions to deepen relationships and procure materials.
Interacting with other characters gives you the opportunity to build relationships with them; the more you build your relationship, the more lines on their notebook entry are filled in, unlocking new skills along the way. This gives fans of the series the opportunity to hang out with their favourite characters and learn more about their personalities. It does come with its flaws; while you can build the relationships during missions, you can only level up during the Daily Life sections of the game, meaning you can max out a characters relationship bar without reaping the benefits until later. This is slightly frustrating, as missions can run into each other without a Daily Life break, providing no opportunity for new skills to be learnt.
There are some localisation issues throughout, which admittedly aren’t ruinous, but are initially quite jarring. Character names are frequently spelt incorrectly, and during the first chapter, other characters referred to our character with male pronouns even though we’d chosen a female character. It’s explained in early scenes that the story is being recounted by someone reading your notebook, and they say they'll refer to you as a male as they don’t know your gender which makes sense contextually for them, but not for other characters who are having a face-to-face conversation with you in other scenes. It’s a small point, but one that makes a difference to the cohesion of the whole game. There’s also the fact that characters all refer to each other by their first names, except when it comes to you - you get called by the surname that you input. It’s very strange, and feels like things haven’t been quite thought through properly.
Similar to cel-shading, the art style is fairly basic but effective, reminding players of the anime and manga roots the game is drawing from. There’s also an option to turn gore off, but what’s Attack on Titan without blood everywhere?
Progressing through the main story of the game unlocks characters that you can play as in the game’s Another Mode which has online and offline components. In online mode you can host or join other players’ scouting missions, or tend to the SOS calls of other players. You can also battle other players, vying for points as teams try to kill as many Titans as possible. You can also enter development agreements with other players, asking them to contribute to the development of your gear. Offline is much the same, without the competitive element, and you can elect to go on solo missions to level up your character’s Another Mode rank.
Attack on Titan 2 is a much improved sequel and such a vast game - you can spend hours playing and it feels like there’s still so much to do. Alongside some really solid gameplay, fans of the series will enjoy interacting with beloved characters, and while the storyline isn't going to offer anything new, you'll feel like a valued part of the fight against the giant menace.