The popularity of Attack On Titan is undeniable. When the anime was released in 2013 it took the world by storm, it became nigh-on impossible to go online without hearing about the latest episode or fan theories on the adventures of Eren Jaeger and his squad. And that hype has never really died down, it’s still as popular and engaging now as it was back then – which makes sense for A.O.T.2 (Attack on Titan 2) to capitalise on this hype.
It’s worth noting before going indepth that A.O.T.2 follows the story of the first two seasons of Attack On Titan – so if you’ve yet to catch up, it might be worth watching those first! On the same note, this review might also feature spoilers for the show…you have been warned!
A.O.T.2 is unique in that while it follows the narrative of the anime, it focuses on an entirely original character. You play as an unnamed member of the 104th Squad – You were there when the dreaded Titans attacked Shinganshina, the bloody and brutal siege on the city which not only killed your parents, but also the parents of the show’s protagonist, Eren Jaeger. Like Jaeger, you’ve made it your mission to join the Scout Division and aid in the hunting of the Titan race who plague the world and have brought humans to the edge of extinction.
While the story is very similar to the anime, it does divert slightly. While Eren Jaeger is driven by his hatred and rage towards the Titans, the playable character – who, like the game, we’ll refer to as ‘Our Friend’ – while driven by rage, takes a more strategic and calculated approach to combat and their job. Maybe this is down to the team-based combat the game revolves around, it still adds an interesting contrast to what we see in the anime.
As mentioned, the combat is primarily team-based skirmishes as you head out on missions to defend certain regions, hunt down Titans or do strategic excursions. I’m happy to say that A.O.T.2 takes full advantage of the Vertical Manoeuvring Equipment, the iconic suit which allows soldiers to fight in full 3D, taking the fight directly to the giant Titans.
At first, using these suits can be challenging. They work in a similar way to how Spider-Man swings his web in the game of the same name. You must first anchor yourself to a building or surface, and then use your momentum to swing yourself in the air before planting another anchor and so on. Actual combat works similar, instead of anchoring to buildings you anchor yourself to the Titans themselves and must perfectly time your slashes to maximise damage. These sections work as mini quick-time events, miss a button and your attack won’t do as much damage.
Once you’ve learned the basics of combat, you’re introduced to the team-based combat the game has to offer, which in all honestly, seems a little basic. Whilst out on missions, you can be accompanied by many of the iconic characters from the anime, and it’s up to you to direct them as you swing around attacking Titans. While they do distract and swing autonomously, they only really become useful when you’re directing their attacks using the D-Pad. Sadly, this feels a little clunky and instead of flowing with combat, had me stopping my fight to aid the fight of others.
These combat-mission sections aren’t all A.O.T.2 has to offer. Unlike A.O.T.1, the sequel features a fully fleshed out story mode, and a personal favourite of mine, a ‘Daily Life’ section. The ‘daily life’ elements of the game have you exploring hub worlds, shopping for new and better gear, and interacting with characters from the anime. I found myself a lot more engaged in managing relationships (a key skill, and something which improves your team’s composition in fights) and learning more about each character, than I did in the combat sections.
Outside of gameplay and story elements, the art style is gorgeous. While Attack On Titan was ground-breaking for it’s gore and unique blend of 2D & 3D artstyles, has more of a cell-shaded artstyle. They’re not the same artstyle, but they very much feel like they’re in the same universe, something that is crucial to the gameplay and the game’s story.
For fans of the anime and manga, A.O.T.2 definitely has a lot to offer. If you’ve dreamed of soaring through the Titan infested forests and cities, or meeting and interacting with your favourite characters then you’ll enjoy this title a lot. I just can’t see it being overly welcoming to newcomers. It doesn’t take the time to fully explain the universe or why Eren Jaeger and his trio are important. The game even opens with the game changing twist reveal in Season 1, without any context or explanation.
A.O.T.2 has a lot of depth and some uniquely complex fighting mechanics, matched with the deeply enjoyable ‘Daily Life’ elements and there is a very good game here, one that I am definitely eager to complete and explore fully.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*