Attack on Titan 2 Switch Review by SwitchWatch

Developer: Omega Force

Publisher: Koei Tecmo

Release Date: 20 March 2018

Price as of Article: $59,99 £44,99

Story

The basic premise of the story revolves around Eren, Mikasa and Armin who live in a town surrounded by giant walls for protection. After their hometown is invaded by giant humanoids who manage to break through and eat humans for lunch including members of their friends and family, they set about exacting revenge and as the player, we get to see many stories and plots evolve. Your own story revolves around you completing training and joining the scout regiment which is a long journey by itself. Along the way, you get to meet many of the main characters and fight alongside them. From here you get to consume the story from both season 1 and 2 of the anime series. You don’t need to have watched the anime series to enjoy the story in this game, however, as it’s very good in its own right.

We get to consume the story of Attack on Titan 2 from a different perspective in that we do not get to play as the main character. Instead, the player can customise their very own protagonist and join the scout regiment. While I did enjoy the fact that you can make your own character I did feel that sometimes there was a little bit of a disconnect. I think I would have felt different had I been able to play as one of the main characters but I’m sure each person will have their own view on this. There is the ability to play with some other characters in other modes in the game such as online.

The story, although all in Japanese and subtitled, felt very dramatic and sometimes emotional and over the 20+ hour campaign I became very heavily invested in the story. I think the character development, pacing and the way you can discover side stories by exploring the towns adds to how much you end up caring about them. Not only that but you can explore all 37 characters story arches  which if you are a big fan of the anime series this is a real win. You end up caring so much about them and because of this you can’t help but want to play more of the game until finally completing it. The fight against the Titans feels very real and I just could not wait to get in there and help in battle. Conversations with characters even have you able to choose your responses and while it doesn’t change the story much, I enjoyed that the options were there.

Audio

The audio in Attack on Titan 2 is a thing of beauty. It’s dramatic in every sense, a soundtrack that invites you to take on the Titans in fierce battles, your omni directional-mobility gear (ODM) making a fantastic sound as you traverse the towns or through the trees like Spiderman. Cutting through a Titan and hearing your sword make contact is grossly satisfying in ways you cannot imagine.

Through some of the cut scenes, the music reminded me a lot of Game of Thrones such is the dramatic feel to it. The characters are all voice acted even though they speak in Japanese and it’s subtitled. Some may be turned off by this but I  think the voice acting is done superbly well even though I didn’t understand what was being said, I got a sense from the way they were saying it and the tone in their voices that things were drastic. Of course, you have the subtitles to confirm all of this but I can’t emphasise enough the quality of the voice acting itself. The characters all felt really unique and some had great personalities that you will remember fondly when the credits finally roll.

Visuals and performance

I will get this out the way and say that the graphical fidelity on the Switch is functional but it’s not exactly pretty. I am not one to compare to other systems because as I have said many times you can’t compare a portable device to one which is tethered to a TV but people will make the comparison and I can’t really do anything other than focus on the Switch version and the qualities this version brings.

If portability is key to you and you don’t own the other systems then this is what we have. For the most part, the Switch version does a decent job running 1080p in docked and 720p handheld but it’s by no means perfect. I had the benefit of having the game for around ten days before release and the developer let us know that the version we were playing was a BETA version. It was only until the 14th of March when an update was released did we get the final version of the game which promised to fix the bugs within the online play and add a bit more polish within the campaign mode itself. The online was no longer broken which was great to see but differences within the campaign were barely noticeable. The game ran a little more stable but the patch was more to make sure online was up and running properly. The Titans were also tweaked in terms of their AI and it was noticeable that they were more responsive to your presence. Effects used when swaying through the air look great and the speed of this gives you a really great sense of what it could be like to possess such a skill.

The characters themselves are all drawn really nicely and I love that you can change the colour of your clothing and I really think the look of the gear later on in the game, just looks so cool and what can I say, when you get that green cloak your character looks spot on!  You can really go to town, to your heart’s content and make a character look almost however you like. Although I will say I could not find any option for facial hair which saddened me as I wanted to replicate my beard!

The game still suffers slow down and there are some big drops in frame rates when there is lot’s going on, on screen. It sometimes takes a while for characters to load, and there are times where bits of scenery disappear in front of your eyes. Textures can be quite rough close up but overall the developers have done a pretty decent job. It’s not perfect by any means but when you’re flying through the air at pace and the game is running smoothly you tend to forgive these hiccups. Some may not of course which I can fully understand but to play this game on the move is certainly a great feeling.

Gameplay

Lights, camera, action!

A.O.T.2 is heavily focused on action and straight from the off the action feels very satisfying. Killing Titans has never felt so good, the story gets you heavily invested into the characters and in between each cutscene you will get straight into a mission and it’s brilliant how the cutscene thrusts you into the gameplay as it keeps the impetus.

Let’s focus on killing Titans, if you have never played the first A.O.T then it’s going to take a little getting used to because the skill here is in the timing and getting the right angle to kill the Titan which usually requires a deep cut on the back of the neck, the nape. This action when done right ends up with the titan bleeding all over the place when your swords are thrust straight into them including covering you all over with the red stuff. Be warned if you make a character with long hair! If you are squeamish you can turn the blood option off.

When you come across a Titan a yellow targeting system will protrude from you to let you know where the Titan is. To enter into the fight you need to press R to target the Titan itself and once in this mode you can move the circular targeted area with the right analogue stick and it’s then up to you how you go about your business. It’s a good system for the most part as it alerts you straight away to the near presence of a Titan whether moving on foot, by air or on horseback.

Once you’re happy with the targeted area you press X to release your ODM which feels really impressive because the use of HD rumble here is very clever, once the hook latches onto the Titan and you are swinging around, it feels like there is resistance which is great. You can target the legs of the Titan and chop the limbs off rendering it immobile as it will fall to the floor, take out the arms so it can’t grab you and eat you and then you’re free to cut the nape for the kill. Personally, I like to go straight for the neck and kill Titans quickly although this poses more risk to your health! To stay in the air you can use your double jump when your hook releases from the Titan, using this skill is essential as the second press of the jump button causes you to enter into a quick boost in the air which uses gas but allows you whilst airborne to re-hook onto either another Titan or the same one if your attack failed or if it needs a few more hits and it’s this gameplay that just never gets old as it’s so thrilling.

Titans at first are easy to kill but require more hits later on and will also defend themselves sometimes managing to grab you and start chomping at you. If your not quick enough pressing the required button multiple times the Titan will have you for lunch. The avoidance meter is important to keep an eye on as once a Titan detects you it can become super aggressive and at this point, you need to be really careful as you can easily get killed and you will have to then start from the last saved checkpoint. Luckily the game saves automatically so it’s not a massive deal but it will affect your mission score. Missions can be replayed whenever you like which is great if you want to perfect them.

You can also take out Titans using a sneak attack using a telescopic view to target the Titan from further away and once the attack is lined up you rush in at frightening pace, time the attack and you can take a Titan out in one fell swoop. To be honest though, it’s not something I used all that much as I felt it slowed down the action. Hook drives are sensationally satisfying, avoid a Titans attack at just the right time and you can land a devastating finishing move whilst in mid-air. Brilliant when you pull it off.

Movement

Movement in the game feels excellent, whether on foot, on horseback or flying through towns or forests using your ODM gear, it’s just a very pleasurable experience. During fights and moving around you need to watch your gas expenditure, run out of gas and you can’t fly around, lose sharpness on your weapons and you can’t take down Titans. Thankfully across the map, there are bases you can build to help you in battle. Bases can be used to replenish gas and blades being the most important. Materials are also needed to build your bases and to replenish your equipment and often battles are a balancing act. Use up all materials on building bases too early and you may not be able to replenish gas and blades later on rendering you as pretty much useless. Choosing the right gear before the battle is also important, do you go for short blades which require better timing or longer blades which are more forgivable but don’t cause as much damage. You have the choice of your ODM gear also. Controls using either the Switch in handheld or if you use a Pro-Controller like I do feel really tight and responsive which has to be the case in a game like this. It takes t ime to get used to but once you do there is nothing quite like it.

Gear here can be upgraded and the more battles you get through the more will unlock for you to be able to build. You can also upgrade this gear and although not as in-depth as some RPG’s I was really pleased with the system as it gave me a lot of incentive to get better scores in battles so I could get the best materials to invest in better equipment.

Missions

Missions are kept pretty simple in that you will have to kill a number of Titans across the map and the minimap is very helpful so you can organise what direction you are going to head off in. You can open up the map further if you need a better view of whats going on. You may have to kill a number of Titans which have broken through the wall and on the way to accomplish the main mission signalled by red arrows or targets, you may need to help a scout in need and these will come up with green smoke signals. Once these turn purple then the scout will be in urgent need of help or otherwise will perish. These are tasks you can either take on or not but it helps if you do these quick side missions as you will get a better mission score which will mean you acquiring more materials at the end of a mission. The game really saves the best for last where you will get to battle some almighty Titans in the latter quarter of the game and if you have watched the anime you will know which ones these are. If you haven’t I won’t spoil it for you!

To help you take out Titans you have other characters which will be with you sometimes and others not. You can recruit them on the battlefield to join your team and these guys and gals will bring different skills to help you in the battle. You have an element of control over them in that you can get them to attack a Titan at a certain time with the press of a button which really helps especially if you have just taken a hit. Managing all of this can be a little fiddly at times but the system works well for the most part.

Town Life

In between battles, things are broken up with town life which I enjoyed a lot. The reason it’s enjoyable is that it gives you a chance to build relationships with other characters by talking to them and getting involved in various training although you don’t actually do anything gameplay wise. It would have been good had they added some mini-games here. You become invested because you want to uncover more of the story and learn more about the characters. I really like Levi, and he is one of my favourite characters, Hange Zoe, Eren and Mikasa are of course standouts. You can talk to characters to build up your relationships and the more you do this the more you build up your stats by discovering new skills which can then be equipped in the menu under player and then skills. Being in town also gives you a chance to explore some of the side stories if your interested which I certainly was.

There are a few things you can do in town which consists of Titan Research, which allows you to view the Titans you’ve caught during battle which you can accomplish by using the restraining gun. Larger ones will need all limbs removing before attempting to capture them as they are too strong and some can’t be caught at all like the female Titan. You can enhance your abilities and also take part in scouting missions which are fully playable missions where you will need to accomplish a number of things and range from easy to difficult. I have to admit that these felt rather repetitive as these missions didn’t have the story to drive you. It’s nice that they are there as it extends the life of the game but it’s not the main attraction. You can also take part in regiment administration where you can make proposals and enter into research and development to acquire better bases for battle but this didn’t really hold my interest. Bases start off by having two main functions but can end up with many more including fully controllable turrets. These are not things I used much in the campaign but I can see how they may be useful in online battles especially in 4 v 4 annihilation.

For me the main draw of the game was playing through the 20 or so hour campaign, the missions always involve killing Titans and yes after a while it becomes repetitive but I don’t mind repetitive if the action is satisfying and in this game it most certainly is. Later on, Titans become harder to kill and you will need more skill and better equipment to take them down. There is a range of differing Titans from, small ones which rush you, large ones, ones that walk around like spiders which makes it hard to take their limbs off, Abnormal ones which are like Titan bosses and require you to take their stamina down before you can hurt them. This can be more difficult as you have to target specific areas of the Titan which changes around during the fight. There are rescue missions, missions where you will have to protect people on the way to a certain place, protecting bases before titans destroy them and many more but you will always have to kill Titans and that’s what it comes down too.

Online

You have online modes which can be played at any time, there is 4 v4 annihilation mode where teams of 4 players on each side compete to kill as many Titans as possible or to capture Titans in a set amount of time for the highest score. We had very limited testing time with this but it seemed to work well for the most part which is good to see and we look forward to taking part in many online battles in future as they were really fun! Logging in daily will grant your character a bonus which is a really nice incentive.

You can also play missions in Co-op with people from around the world and Omega Force have implemented gestures for limited communication which is better than nothing but I would say it would be best if playing with a friend to link up to Skype or Discord.  I was quietly impressed with online and can certainly see myself investing a lot more time in playing these modes. Another thing to note is you can play as many of the characters you meet in the game after you unlock them which is fantastic, especially if you don’t want to play with your own customised character and at least gives you choice.

Value

You can buy this game in physical format on the Switch for £44,99 which is the same price as on PS4 which is nice for a change. The game is $59,99 on Amazon in the USA so this has a triple AAA title price but you get a lot of game for your money. The game has a long enough campaign with a fantastic engrossing story which has been implemented well. You are looking at 20 hours for the campaign and throw in another 10+ for the side missions. If you want S rank on every level and to get all weapons then you are looking at a possible 70 hours+ and that’s not including online.

There is town life to enjoy, scouting missions on the side and online modes which all extend the games life. Only time will tell if there is going to be a community to play battles with but I suspect that this will not be a problem seeing as this game has a large fanbase.

Buy here

Pros

P

Engrossing campaign

P

Fantastic Audio

P

Gameplay is satisfying

Cons

P

Can get repetitive

P

Slowdown and some graphical issues

P

Can feel detached a little from the story at times with customisable character.