Sie sind das Essen und Wir sind die Jaeger! – DOO, D-DOO DOO, DOO DOO DOO DOOOOO! DOO, D-DOO DOO, DOO DOO DOO DOOOOO!
One of the best-selling Manga series of all time, Attack on Titan has gone from strength to strength over the last ten or so years. Set on an alternate world, Attack on Titan follows the story of the last bastion of humanity followings the arrival of Titans; giant humanoid creatures whose only purpose is to devour people. Set about 100 years after the arrival of the Titans, it begins when a 200ft Titan smashes the outermost of the three walls protecting humanity, letting smaller monsters in to devour and destroy and leading to a variety of troubles for those further inside the city. The lead characters, Eren, Mikasa and Armin are new recruits to the city’s military, and you witness their training and eventual deployment into the field of battle. In 2013 the series was turned into an Anime and gained huge popularity worldwide.
Over the years there have been a few games created to tie into the exciting and drama-heavy series. Whilst some have been less than successful, 2016’s Attack on Titan: Wings of Freedom received praise for its passionate use of the franchise and the well-designed controls.
Obviously, there had to be a sequel. Attack on Titan 2 was released earlier this month and follows the premise of the original but expands on it in numerous ways.
Wings of Freedom’s story mode retold the story of Attack on Titan season 1 from the perspective of a variety of the main characters, and whilst it did it well some criticised it for being overly repetitive and lacking a hook. AOT2 improves on this in a variety of ways, with the biggest change being the perspective from which you experience the first two series of the Anime. Like Sonic Forces before it, AOT2 allows you to create your own original character who ends up inside wall Maria during the Colossal Titan Attack and joins the same regiment as the lead trio.
The gameplay switches between two sections; rest sections and chapters. In each chapter you play through a battle from the series, completing side missions, rescuing allies and helping to protect humanity. You control your character and their 3D-maneuvering gear as you kill titans and swing around in an almost Spidermanesque manner. As Titans can only be killed by slicing their nape, the player and their team of up to four AI companions need to move fluidly around the titans; attacking them from multiple angles and slicing off limbs in order to finally be able to strike the final blow.
The real difficulty comes from timing your strikes correctly, refreshing your gas and blades at the right moments and keeping track of the other titans around you, as if you are caught you’re pretty much food. Luckily you also have the ability to build and change support towers during battle which can assist in the fight; though these often feel ineffective in the heat of the moment. Whilst you do find yourself repeatedly slicing through Titans it never feels that repetitive as each kill is just so damn satisfying due to the awesome array of sound effects.
Between missions, you have the chance to interact with the other character from the series through a variety of conversations in your HQ. Filled with interesting titbits and chances to progress your relationships with them and unlock unique skills which improve your battle prowess. You can also upgrade your weapons and gear through the surprisingly robust crafting system, which allows a level of character customisation I wasn’t expecting. I really enjoyed these sections, and whilst they would have been better with full English voice acting, I was happy to be able to explore the relationships between the key players in a deeper fashion.
Another mode opens soon into the story, allowing you to take part in a variety of scenarios as or alongside a variety of playable characters. You also have the ability to research captured titans and manage the scout regiment through proposing new policies. It’s an enjoyable diversion from the story mode which breaks up the pace and puts you truly in the shoes of one of Eren’s allies.
There are also a variety of multiplayer modes which allow players to either join up in killing titans or fight with a team to out-perform their enemies. There is also a mode in which you can play as a Titan and devour humans, which is an interesting break from the rest of the gameplay.
The cel-shaded style of the game matches the manga and anime well, giving it a timeless quality. Whilst in some games the graphics of the PS4 are starting to fall short, the visual style of AOT2 lends it some leeway. Aurally AOT2 excels, giving every slash, jump and roar added emphasis. My only real gripe is the lack of localised voice acting. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; you can’t run around a huge tactical open world full of danger and tension whilst reading subtitles, and as such I often lost track of key moments of drama during battles.
Overall, I have loved playing AOT2, and diving into it has given me a new desire to re-experience the series. The world it shows is brimming with the drama and atmosphere of the show, and whilst some of the political intrigue is lost in translation it still tells the story in a very competent and emotional manner. Granted, some elements could have been fleshed out more fully and I would have preferred English voice acting across the board I have to recommend this to fans of the series old and new.