Review: Attack on Titan 2 - Final Battle (Computer)

Reviewed by Garrett Walters, posted Aug 9, 2019, last updated Aug 9, 2019
"And just like that, everything changed. At that terrible moment, in our hearts, we knew. Home was a pen. Humanity, cattle."
Aug 9, 2019
  • Release Date (NA): July 4, 2019
  • Release Date (EU): July 4, 2019
  • Publisher: Koei Tecmo
  • Developer: Koei Tecmo
  • Genres: Action
  • ESRB Rating: Mature
  • PEGI Rating: Sixteen years and older
  • Single player
    Local Multiplayer
    Online Multiplayer
    Co-operative
Sequel to 2016's 'Attack on Titan: Wings of Freedom,' AOT 2 and the Final Battle DLC look to expand upon a solid base and offer up a titanic amount of content.
Garrett Walters

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Over the years, both the manga and the anime have built a massive fan base for Attack on Titan. Will this video game adaptation of the source material satisfy the most hardcore devotees among them?

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Introduction

After setting the appropriate graphics options for your rig, you'll find a wealth of play modes greet you at the main menu, though story mode is the most obvious starting point. Here you'll find content spanning the first two seasons of the AOT anime, but rather than experiencing it all from the vantage point of one of the anime's main characters, you'll be creating your own character with a wealth of customization options. Nearly everything can be edited in this surprisingly robust character creator, down to minute details such as voice, facial markings, and clothing colors. In typical anime fashion, however, it's not possible to make your character very wide or bulky. That minor gripe aside, everything necessary to immerse you in the world of Attack on Titan is as it should be here.

I'm happy to say that voice-overs, including narration, are in their native Japanese, and largely seem to feature the same actors as the anime. Also staying faithful to the anime, the soundtrack consists of a large number of rock-opera fusion tunes. The subtle cel-shaded aesthetic is fitting, and the view distance is far, though models for titans and characters pop in only once you're a fair bit closer.

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Gameplay

Story mode gameplay consists of two primary phases: combat missions, and daily life within the scout regiment barracks. Up to a point, combat missions are driven entirely by the story and used to advance it, though you'll soon unlock optional scout missions as well. During most combat missions, you'll be frantically slaying one titan after another, with character positioning and item management being ever-vital to your success in that regard. At your disposal to aid with movement through the air is the iconic omni-directional mobility (ODM) gear, dual grappling hooks with a gas mechanism that turn you into a de facto Spider-Man. I'm a big advocate of game mechanics which grant the player freedom of movement, and the implementation here is nearly flawless. In addition to fast, fluid, precise movement in any given direction, the player has the ability to wall run vertically or horizontally, or even stop and suspend themselves along any vertical surface. Given that time is one of the three factors you'll be judged on for each mission, this is all immensely helpful in your rush from one emergent situation to the next.

As fans are well aware, felling a titan requires slicing the nape of its neck. Here AOT2 requires a bit more precision than the first game did, with a white crosshairs appearing when you're relatively aligned with the nape, and a yellow crosshairs appearing when you're aligned for a perfect (critical) strike. Sneak attacks on titans that haven't yet noticed you are also possible, and a great way to dish out single-strike kills. Titans are relatively slow, but on the off chance you are grabbed, a well-timed button press allows the opportunity for a counter-attack which results in massively increased damage and some very flashy acrobatics. During these skirmishes, your blades will slowly dull with each strike, and your gas will deplete with each aerial maneuver needed to position yourself properly behind the titans. Both pulling out a new set of blades and replacing your gas tanks with reserves require a delay while grounded, a delay which might otherwise get you snatched up by the nearest hungry giant. Thankfully you're rarely flying solo. Up to four allies can be recruited through the course of any mission, some simply by walking up and pressing B, others by completing side missions indicated by green smoke signals. Each ally comes with an ability, the most common being an attack executed on whichever titan body part it is that you're currently targeting, the rarer ones providing buffs to your damage output or even transforming the ally into a titan which the player takes direct control over.

If all this doesn't provide enough multi-tasking during missions for your tastes, fear not, for there's also the element of base building to occupy you. At pre-determined locations, you'll select from a variety of base types to build which will provide support in different ways. All help in resupplying items consumed in combat, but among other functions, they can also be used to rain down automated cannon fire on titans, provide additional upgrade materials at the end of missions, or boost the damage of allies near to them. Base selection is limited at first, but grows quickly as you progress through the story.

Back at your daily life within the safety of the walls, you have the opportunity buy new gear, upgrade/reinforce current gear, or spend some time conversing with allies in order to build friendships. Upgrades to gear only require the appropriate amount of gold and materials, whereas reinforcement requires consuming other (typically low-level) gear of the same type. Once you've progressed past a certain point in the story, horses with improved speed and stamina become available for purchase as well. Improving friendships with allies is more crucial than it might initially sound, as each time your friendship ranks up with a particular character, you'll unlock new skills which can be assigned to your own character. These skills range from anything as simple as stat increases, to more unique abilities such as mid-air blade/gas canister swapping. It's not revealed to the player which characters grant which skills until they're unlocked, so it's best to try to befriend everyone. This can be accomplished by picking conversation options complimentary to each character's individual personality, by buying appropriate gifts, or by completing missions with each character at your side. You'll unlock additional locales within the walls as you progress, which can result in a sort of hide and seek to track down each character for a chat after each mission.

Lastly of note are the three individuals at the center of the barracks. The one on the right allows you to embark on scout missions with whichever ally you have following you at the time; you can even set your preferred music track for these optional multi-part missions. The scout on the left allows you to re-visit any past story mission to try for a higher grade. By completing any mission, you're granted a currency in the form of wings of freedom emblems, and the scout in the center of these three allows you to spend those emblems. With them you can either improve specific bases through R&D, or you can choose to set policy for the regiment which grants certain bonuses to allies for the next mission.

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Additional Modes

Once you've completed story mode, you'll have the ability to go back to previous missions and save allies who otherwise died in the anime and in cutscenes throughout the game. Completing story mode also unlocks a significantly harder version of the same season one and two content, dubbed 'Inferno Mode.' If neither of these options compels you to re-visit content you've already experienced, however, there are three more game modes to choose from at the main menu.

'Another Mode' is where all the online cooperative content can be found. You can either take your custom character into this mode to continue earning experience and resources, or use any of the anime characters you've unlocked through the friendships you've forged in story mode. As far as I can tell, the missions and their objectives in this mode are generated somewhat at random, so the titan-slaying action is as endless as you wish it to be. This mode is a part of the base Attack on Titan 2 game, and does not require the Final Battle DLC to play.

'Character Episode Mode' is where you'll find the story content for season three of the anime. This mode introduces some new weapon types, and some unique missions. Unfortunately, for as much as it adds, this is the one mode that takes away the ability to play as your custom character, instead forcing you back into the role of the anime's main characters. Certainly a missed opportunity from my perspective, especially when considering that this mode does require the Final Battle DLC to play.

'Territory Recovery Mode' empowers you to become the leader of your own regiment, with a custom regiment name and a choice of emblems to adorn your jackets. You can choose to play as your custom character or any of the characters you've unlocked through story mode play, though over time you'll be inviting those characters to join your regiment regardless. This mode involves a bit more strategic meta-gaming than the others, as you'll be choosing where to lead expeditions into compromised territory, and when to return to town to allow your regiment to recuperate. You're granted a certain number of moves in the overworld, determined by your regiment's current level of resources among other factors. For me, this mode is the star of the show when it comes to the inclusions of the Final Battle DLC. It doesn't have the endless content of 'Another Mode,' and it doesn't have the polished drama of the two story modes, but it does give the player more agency in several ways.

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Conclusion

I've only got a few minor critiques to levy at this game. For some reason, the audio volume in cutscenes is significantly lower than it is during gameplay. There are a couple typos included in the game text, and some minor visual glitches throughout (titan blood would often blink in and out of existence rapidly). Optimization could be slightly better, as I feel I should be able to run a game of this fidelity in 4K on an i5-4690k and GTX 1080ti, but I had to reduce the resolution to 1440p to get stable performance (changing graphics settings made little difference). Lastly, if you already have the base AOT2 game, you'll probably want to wait on a sale for the Final Battle DLC, as its content quality is a mixed bag, and the pricing is a bit unreasonable.

All this aside, the game is very well-crafted and an absolute joy to play. There was plenty of heart and soul put in by the developer here, and it shows. Everybody's expectations are different, but fans of the anime and/or the manga should be very pleased with the overall quality presented here. As a fan myself, I know I am.

Verdict
Pros
+ Fast, fluid gameplay
+ Tons of content (60+ hours)
+ Aesthetic, voice-overs, and music all on point
+ Highly customizable experience
Cons
- Minor bugs throughout (mostly visual)
- Final Battle DLC is a mixed bag; individual pricing is a bit steep
- Optimization could be a little better
8 Presentation
A rocking soundtrack, great anime-inspired visuals, and strong voice acting. The only elements which cause this score to drop a bit are the occasional visual glitches, quiet cutscenes, and the proximity at which titan models pop in to view.
8 Gameplay
There's little not to love here, both the freedom of movement and the intensity of combat feel just right. I do wish it was a little easier to find all the characters during the 'everyday life' segments of the story, however.
9 Lasting Appeal
A cornucopia of content, fans of the source material who are also completionists could spend months with this game, especially if they buy it bundled with Final Battle.
8.6
out of 10
Overall (not an average)
Whether you're a hardcore fan or looking to discover Attack on Titan's story line for the first time through an interactive medium, I highly recommend Attack on Titan 2: Final Battle. However, if you already own the base game, it's probably best to wait on a price drop for the Final Battle add-on. I am hopeful that season 4 content will be added to the game at a later date, but even if that isn't the case, AOT 2 is a very fun and very well-rounded experience as it stands now.


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