By Alexander O. Cuaycong and Anthony L. Cuaycong
KOEI TECMO and Omega Force were on to something when they unveiled Attack on Titan in 2016. Based on the manga and anime series of the same name, the actioner follows the story of Eren Yaeger, a soldier of the Scout Regiment who actively fights against a race of man-eating giants called titans. Through the use of Omni-Directional Mobility Gear, equipment that allow humans to do battle in a three-dimensional setting, Eren and his friends square off against the titans, actively hunting them outside and beyond district walls for survival.
Building on the popularity and success of the video game spin-off, Attack on Titan 2 proves to be less of a sequel and more of a remake. With better graphics, tighter controls, and more attention placed on human-versus-titan combat, it tracks developments in the first two seasons of the anime series and presents a much more enjoyable gameplay experience that reflects Koei Tecmo and Omega Force’s receptiveness to product feedback.
In Attack on Titan 2, players control a nameless, customizable recruit who joins the military, eager to fight against titans that threaten the inhabitants of the island Paradis. They go through the canonical events of the series and beat down giants through the use of superior maneuverability and smart positioning. Along the way, they form bonds with fellow soldiers, develop skills, forge better weapons and gear, and prepare themselves for harder battles and tougher missions against a never-ending horde of titans eager for blood.
As an adrenaline-pumping title, Attack on Titan 2 easily draws players in through its sheer scale, an astounding feat given how difficult titans can be to portray. They are towering monstrosities with leering, unintelligent faces, not to mention bizarre features and twisted bodies far too large and too bulky to be anything close to human. Hundreds of feet tall, they crush buildings and swipe people aside with ease, and the game captures their imposing physique extremely well with its cel-shaded design choices. The way each titan is drawn to be unique just like in the anime series, and the way environments are made to be tossed aside add to the thrill, as these fit both the theme and the feel of the source material.
Storywise, Attack on Titan 2 is a faithful rendition of its inspiration. Players are able to read about characters and the synopsis of chapters of the anime series through a logbook. Moreover, they are also able to get to know protagonists personally through a basic relationship system. With a fairly lengthy campaign and an interesting cast, it’s a romp to go through. Admittedly, it comes at a cost, as the game’s adherence to the anime series means that longtime fans already know what’s coming. Still, it is able to present the story in an interesting manner, focusing on characterization as opposed to exposition.
Nonetheless, Attack on Titan 2’s biggest draw is its gameplay. There’s a steep learning curve to combat; while the concept is straightforward on paper, the controls are difficult to master. The interactions between humans and titans don’t make for standard hack-and-slash button mashing, but, rather, require far more finesse and nuance. That said, familiarity will invariably set in, enabling players to experience unique and distinct mechanics. They need to hook on to titans, and, with good timing, attack weak spots; only a swift blow to the back of the neck can end a titan, but arms and legs can be severed if targeted so as to make successive attacks easier. And because limbs provide players with valuable materials for items and equipment, any given battle effectively becomes a set of choices between risk and reward.
Significantly, Attack on Titan 2 places emphasis on momentum en route to victory. It not only dictates how fast players moves around while swinging; it determines how much damage they can deal when their attacks connect. Frequently, they will find themselves dashing across walls, swinging from building to building, and then hooking on to the bodies of titans for leverage. Certain angles lead to faster movement, and for those who have the appropriate button presses down pat, nothing is quite as enjoyable as swinging from titan to titan, bringing them down with one perfect strike after another. As an aside, up to four non-playable characters can be recruited to help in battles, damaging or stunning titans with timely strikes.
It bears noting that Attack on Titan 2 doesn’t limit players to the Story Mode. There’s another mode (appropriately titled, well, Another Mode) which allows them to use their favorite characters in several multiplayer options, including one in which opposing teams vie for the honor of having the better kill rate. In short, it gives ample bang for the buck. It isn’t perfect, to be sure; among other technical issues, it suffers from uneven pacing and optimization bugs. Glitches will show titans seemingly merging with buildings and walls or appearing on top of hard-to-reach places, making combat difficult if not outright impossible. On occasion, humans can get caught on terrain or on the body parts of titans after swooping in for an attack.
Needless to say, game slowdowns serve to dampen enthusiasm for Attack on Titan 2. The lags aren’t unbearable, but they happen often enough as to erode player goodwill. In early segments of the game, for instance, the sight of titans destroying buildings causes massive frame drops and forces proceedings to a crawl. Meanwhile, boss titans can be too much of a challenge to overcome, a rapid departure from the relatively low degree of difficulty accompanying the slaying of most other titans.
In any case, the problems don’t detract from Attack on Titan 2’s core experience. For all its missteps, it manages to stay fun and enjoyable through the length of its campaign. For fans of the series, picking it up is a no-brainer; it encapsulates all that has produced a loyal following for Attack on Titan. For those new to the franchise, the adherence to canon juxtaposed with compelling gameplay make it well worth its $60 price tag.
Video Game Review
Attack on Titan 2
• Compelling combat mechanics, placing emphasis on speed, skill, and timing
• Ample customization options
• Another Mode provides ample replay value
• Noticeable lags during combat
• Glitches on occasion, dampening gameplay
• Boss titans can be difficult to overcome