In theory, an Attack on Titan game sounds like a great idea. The exhilarating speed of hunting 50-foot tall titans is unquestionably excellent in theory, and when the first game, Attack on Titan: Wings of Freedom, released in 2016, it presented a flawed formula that could become something much more with a bit of polish and improved mechanics. Attack on Titan 2 builds on this formula in many ways with some good quality of life additions coming with it. However, in spite of these improvements, A.O.T 2 rings a bit hollow given it retreads so much of the same ground.
If you’re unfamiliar with Attack on Titan’s premise (who isn’t nowadays), it’s about a dystopian setting where giant humanoid creatures appeared out of nowhere to hunt and kill humans. As a retaliation, mankind built a wall to keep the titans out, and peace ensued for some years until one day the biggest titan they’ve ever seen, the Colossal Titan, kicks a hole in the wall, causing more than a few problems for humanity.
The narrative of the games follow the same beats and ideas of the anime to a tee, and so the first game revolved around the first season and a small segment of the second. Naturally, in turn, I’d come in expecting A.O.T 2 to pick up where Wings of Freedom left off. However, after creating an original character and jumping in, the game placed me at the start of the first season again. I get the whole “experience it from a different perspective” thing, but your character adds literally nothing to the plot, so it’s hard to feel like you aren’t just watching the anime on repeat.
This, in turn, causes some issues gameplay-wise which I’ll get to shortly. However, if you’re coming in fresh-eyed, the game’s story is accurate to the source material for the most part, and, for those unfamiliar with its twists and turns, there are some shocking surprises and mysterious questions posed to pique your curiosity – which, trust me, they will. Having read the manga and watched both seasons myself, I can safely say that the narrative here is a solid way to experience both stories, just don’t expect the same level of detail and character development as the anime.
A.O.T 2’s gameplay is mostly the same as its predecessor with a few tweaks and additions here and there. More often than not, you’re zipping around the place at high-speed with your ODM gear, which allows you to be propelled through the air, latching on to nearby buildings as gas keeps on propelling you forward. It’s exhilarating and captures the essence of this concept perfectly, and this applies to slaying titans too. You can target specific body parts for extra crafting materials or damage weak spots in the case of bosses, but you want to go for the nape of the neck to secure the kill. Maneuvering around these behemoths, utilising stealth attacks, and pulling off a counter-attack after a last minute dodge is very satisfying – at least for the first few hours.
What’s frustrating is how the game retreads a lot of the same ground as the first, just from a different perspective – which, in reality, doesn’t do much shake things up. Most of the maps and objectives featured in the first half of the sequel feel strangely familiar, and although they may not be the exact same maps, they’re pretty close – so much it feels like the Wings of Freedom campaign was shoe-horned as padding. Essentially, it feels like you’re replaying the same content from the first game. This is great for new players, but for returning ones like me, it felt half-baked and was a slog to get through in its entirety. I honestly felt worn out by the time I reached anything I’d consider “new.”
It is worth noting that there’s a multiplayer mode vaguely titled “Another Mode,” where you can play as characters from across both seasons. It’s a neat little touch considering you don’t get to play as them in the actual story mode, but it doesn’t take long for the missions to devolve into mindless objectives which are also an issue in the campaign too. It ultimately feels uninspired and like a superfluous attempt at including some sort of fan-service in the game.
At the very least, A.O.T 2 looks nice and is faithful to the anime. The visuals aren’t exactly anything to gawk at, but they certainly aren’t terrible either. The cel-shaded art style is very similar to the first game. Character models are clean, detailed, and well-made, and the same can be said for the titans. When put in contrast with some of the environments, though, the difference is very noticeable, with low resolutions and an overall lack of detail. Further to this, I experienced occasional frame rate drops when the action got too heavy, but I didn’t find it to be too intrusive.
Attack on Titan 2’s concepts are sound, much like they were in the original, but it’s difficult to recommend the sequel to anyone who already played Wings of Freedom or who isn’t a fan of the anime. While the combat is undeniably enjoyable for the first few hours, it inevitably devolves into mindless repetition – and even if you can get past that, it’s a slog to play through what feels like a copy and paste of the first game in order to get to anything new. Further disappointment comes from the addition of an original character who doesn’t do anything to shake things up in these earlier sections of the game or add anything of significance to the overarching plot. If nothing else, A.O.T 2’s a good way to experience the story of Attack on Titan, albeit with the absence of smaller details. If you haven’t played the first game and are curious about how a video game adaptation of A.O.T could turn out, maybe try this to see if it’s for you.