Monday, March 11, 2019

Attack on Titan 2 XONE - Things We Loved (And Some We Didn't)

"Attack on Titan" is one of the biggest wastes of a great premise that we've seen in anime and manga in a long, long time. The story is convoluted nonsense that is insultingly dumb and once the shock of the violence and gore wears off there isn't much left for anyone with half a brain to enjoy. Like I said, though, the premise of the last vestiges of mankind fighting off horrifying titans is amazing, which is why I find myself enjoying the live action movies (yes, really) and video games much more than the original source material itself. As such, I've been playing Attack on Titan 2 for Xbox One lately and have been having a mostly good time with it so here are the things I loved, and a few things I didn't, about the Attack on Titan 2 video game.

Things We Loved

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The Condensed Story - The story in Attack on Titan sucks, so condensing it down into a few hours instead of dozens of anime episodes is just doing everyone a favor. You get to see the important stuff without all of the time wasting fluff. This is why I actually like the live action AoT movies, even though they changed a bunch of stuff. The Attack on Titan 2 game tells the story from the first and second seasons of the anime and takes, roughly, ten hours or so to complete. Your character is a new character who somehow magically happens to be present at all of the major story points and interacts with the main cast constantly, which doesn't really make sense, but it's a game and I'm fine with that.

The Gameplay - The coolest thing about Attack on Titan is how the characters fly around with fascinating gas powered grappling hook things and slice up titans with dual swords and this game captures that amazingly perfectly. It takes a little getting used to, of course, but soon enough you're zipping around like Spider-Man and precisely chopping up towering titans with ease. It just feels really good to play and is immensely satisfying.

The Presentation - They managed to make the game look about as close to the anime as you can get, which is pretty impressive. The characters all look great. The titans are just as wonderfully creepy as ever. And the blood and gore is present and well accounted for. 

Things We Didn't Love

Repetition - There are only so many varieties of titans and a handful of environments, so things start getting repetitive pretty fast. Killing a titan is the same thing every time - slicing the nape of their neck - so it's always the same from titan #1 to titan #1000.

The Story and Gameplay Don't Mesh Well - It is hard to be all horrified by the brutality of the Attack on Titan universe when your character kills, literally, hundreds and even thousands of titans with absolute ease. The rest of the cast is all scared and serious and the story is meant to be somber, but you never feel any of that. You feel like they should just set you loose out into the world and you'd kill every single titan in existence in a day or two. You also don't really feel anything for your fellow soldiers despite the game wanting to make a big deal when they die because they are either nameless grunts or fake characters featured only in this game and nowhere else. Or, if you've seen the anime, you already know who dies and when. There is an achievement that pops when 100 comrades die and all I could do was shrug.

Social Links - Connected to the topic above is the game's use of a sort of social links system where you can make friends with all of the real characters between missions. The idea is that you're supposed to give a crap about everyone by forming real relationships so you care when they inevitably die, but the way it is implemented is just boring. You're just hammering the "next" button through conversations to increase a relationship meter and earn new skills. That's it. 

Upgrading Equipment - The way you upgrade equipment or get new stuff is to use materials you find during missions. The problem is that most of the new equipment you can build is usually worse than what you're already using - though it might be better after an upgrade or two - so there is little incentive to make new stuff. The upgrade system is also flawed because the rare materials required to upgrade stuff are so few and far between that it takes ages to actually make anything better. This all just seems like busywork to stretch out a game that was already repetitive, which isn't a good plan.


In the end, there are a lot of things to take issue with in Attack on Titan 2, but I have still enjoyed it overall. Fans of the franchise will enjoy it and it is honestly probably a good place for Attack on Titan newcomers to start since it condenses the dumb story into a manageable chunk while focusing on the best part - combat against titans and the blood and gore. I wouldn't recommend a full MSRP purchase, but if you can get it on sale it's worth a look.