It's never been a better time to be an Attack on Titan fan. With the series crushing sales records and a third season of the anime coming this summer, you've got plenty of options if you like small humans murdering giant naked dudes in a post-apocalyptic world. Koei Tecmo is bringing back Dynasty Warriors developer Omega Force for their second Attack on Titan game in three years, and the partnership is clearly working. Combining high-flying action with satisfying gameplay, Attack on Titan 2 is a sequel that manages to improve on its predecessor in almost every way, even if it overstays its welcome.
If you're not familiar with the Attack on Titan universe, here's a quick primer. Humanoid monstrosities known as Titans constantly threaten mankind. Looking to return to a sense of normalcy, the humans encase themselves in a series of three walls, protecting what seems to be the last of humanity. After the outermost wall falls due to a coordinated attack by the Titans five years ago, the survivors are left sheltering behind their remaining defenses. Attack on Titan seamlessly blend gore and post-apocalyptic politics in a world where Germany and Japan collide.
This time, instead of playing as Eren or another one of the characters from the series, you're playing as a character of your own creation. Unlike Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet, the story has been written to accommodate your participation. Getting opportunities to chat with underdeveloped characters helps flesh out the world. By choosing different dialogue options, you fill up an affection bar. When the bar is full, a short scene plays, and you learn a little bit more about the character you're talking to. By continuously chatting with friends, you unlock more skills, each better than the last. It's a great way to combine character development with player action.
Attack on Titan 2 breaks the first five story arcs of the manga into individual battles. These cover everything from the early training arc to the "Clash of the Titans" arc. Of course, Attack on Titan 2 does come with its own original ending yet again. While it doesn't fit in with the rest of the plot and leaves many questions unanswered, it's more satisfying than Omega Force's first attempt. The game discards much of the political intrigue for character drama that mostly succeeds. The short runtime prevents any real character development, but the core cast of Eren, Armin, and Mikasa are all represented well.
The gameplay is largely unchanged from the first Attack on Titan. You swing through streets and forests like Spider-Man, latching onto the necks of Titans, and with a few timed button presses, bring down the lumbering monsters. It's fast, fluid, and immensely gratifying. As I wrote in my preview, the movement is incredibly fun, even if killing Titans gets repetitive. You can slice off individual limbs to make killing Titans easier, but this is more a waste of time than anything. Titans rarely fight back as you swing around them, again and again. Just as well, you're never at a loss for monsters to kill. The movement may not always work well, especially when fighting against fast-moving Titans, but it works well enough.
Unfortunately, Attack on Titan 2 suffers from one of gaming's worst buzzwords: ludonarrative dissonance. Attack on Titan 2 completely fails to reconcile your actions with the story playing out in front of you. I racked up over a thousand Titan kills in the 14 or so hours spent running through the campaign and scouting missions, yet characters regularly comment on the difficulty of fighting Titans. Humorously, an elite squad of characters debut pretty early on. More often than not, you need to rescue the supposed "elites" from Titans. After massacring as many Titans as I did, the ending felt cheap. While I understand the desire to keep the canon contained within the games, your character's story never quite meshed with the sheer number of Titans you killed.
Attack on Titan 2 does provide a unique twist on RPG mechanics. Upon leveling up, instead of increasing your health and damage, you earn more skill points. These skill points can be applied to skills at will, providing another layer of character customization. You're not at a loss for skills to equip, but Attack on Titan 2 never overburdens you with choices. The skills are largely incremental in nature, meaning you're free to customize your loadout at will. With a whole host of different gear and weapons loadouts to choose from, plus the option to change your appearance at any time, creating your own Titan-slaying machine can get pretty involving.
However good the variety and customization is, Attack on Titan 2 bored me quite easily. You really feel like an action hero thanks to the game's gameplay and movement systems. However, the repetition is always prevalent. There are far too few environments, and you'll be killing the same titans over and over for hours on end. The aforementioned Survey Missions boil down to "go here, kill all Titans." The sheer number of characters to interact with means that I eventually just started skipping most of the dialogue, assuming I could keep them separate. Midway through the campaign, you unlock the ability to capture Titans by firing a net gun, which does break up the monotony. Still, more weapon variety or unique bosses would have gone a long way.
True to Omega Force fashion, Attack on Titan 2 suffers from some impressively bad framerate dips at times. Titans will regularly rampage through buildings scattered throughout towns and the countryside, and this destruction brings noticeable drops. Even the experience of running through town is sometimes choppy. Attack on Titan 2 never outright crashes for me, but when dozens of Titans appear in later missions, the framerate consistently drops. There are also some strange translation inconsistencies. The Survey Corps is reimagined as the Scout Corps, and German names are wildly different from their anime counterparts. Bizarrely, the ODM gear is occasionally referred to as the "ODZ gear". Even more bizarrely, this same items is "3D maneuvering gear" in the first game.
Technical quibbles aside, this game improves on its predecessor in numerous ways. The UI is much cleaner, and the breadth of the story is far greater. You're free to roam around expanded town sections and chat with your allies. "Survey Missions" yield greater reward and are no longer mandatory. You can now play through the entire campaign in co-op alongside a few new multiplayer modes added as well. How well do these changes separate the two Attack on Titan games, however? At the end of the day, you're still running through the same missions, maps, and story sequences. There are better lighting effects and more detailed textures, but Attack on Titan 2 feels more like a 1.5.
Attack on Titan 2's flaws make it a hard game to recommend. It's genuinely fun, and playing through the story of both seasons of the anime is a neat experience. At the same time, the upgrades are minute and almost impossible to justify to someone who bought the first game. The fact that you're repeating content from the first game again to get to new material is hard to justify. For newcomers, this sequel is clearly the superior game. For everyone else, you're better off waiting for the anime this summer.
Out Attack on Titan 2 review was conducted on PlayStation 4 with a copy of the game provided by the publisher. It is also available on Switch and PC via Steam, with an Xbox One version to come next month.
It may be an improvement over the first in nearly every way, but Attack on Titan 2 fails to feel unique. Playing as your own character is nice, but this sequel ends up as a very similar package to its predecessor.(Review Policy)
- Deep Character Customization
- Fun Movement Options
- Great Sense of Action
- No Evolution in Gameplay
- Noticeable Framerate Issues
- Story Doesn't Match Gameplay