One thing I like to point out when I’m talking about games based on licenses, in particular those based on anime, is that they really don’t have to be as competent as they are to do well. Say what you will about the many Sword Art Online games, for instance, but they’re almost all entirely workable RPGs that scratch that itch far more effectively than you’d expect. Likewise, last year’s Attack on Titan 2 was shockingly decent and faithful to its source material for a game that really would have just had to appeal to fans to sell.
With Attack on Titan 2: Final Battle, we’ve got another example of this – more than just a treat for Attack on Titan fans, it’s worth some consideration from most anyone, and the expansion only makes things better by adding tons of content and new features out the titanic wazoo.
Need a recap of Hajime Isayama’s manga, anime and (now) game series? Here’s the short version: humanity is having a really bad time thanks to the meddling of giant humanoid creatures called Titans. They rampage around, smashing stuff, eating people and basically acting like jerks all over the place. What’s more, they’re pretty darn hard to kill; any damage not dealt to a specific weak spot on the nape of the neck ends up rapidly regenerating. The human race has been pushed into a corner, forced to hole up in walled cities. Our only hope lies in Military members like Eren Yaeger, warriors who use a complex and dangerous grappling hook system to swing around and fillet Titans.
While we mostly followed Eren in the previous game, here you’re able to make your own character. In practice this plays out much like Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet – you make your own character and are promptly relegated to second-string status as the anime heroes take center stage. It’s cool to get to inject yourself into the world, but it doesn’t amount to a whole lot, especially since a sizable chunk of the story here covers material that we already saw in the first game. The story’s not the only way to go, of course, and there’s plenty of side content and multiplayer available if you get tired of that, with Final Battle heaping even more on top.
Who cares, though? The actual gameplay, involving swinging around and chopping up Titans using lock-on attacks, is as exhilarating as ever. Ideally you’ll hack off some limbs to weaken the beast before going for the kill, but there’s some room for improvisation; you also need to pay attention to avoiding attacks, since you have practically no defenses and even glancing blows can be devastating. You can also customize your character with special skills and gear. New to this game are strategy elements like Bases you can establish, a few new combat abilities like a counterattack and a supremely satisfying stealth kill and an overall improved feeling of control and fluidity. As with the first game, you can expect this to take awhile to master, but once you get the hang of things it’s amazing.
The Final Battle expansion adds on some delicious goodies for those who haven’t gotten enough of Titan-slaying. The most obvious would be the Character Episodes and the Territory Recovery mode. The former serves to cover the third season of the anime, while Territory Recovery is something akin to the Empires games, adding a sort of strategy-RPG mechanic overlaid on the basic titan-slaying joy. You’ve also got guns! Yes, guns. That’s an entirely new weapon you can use that completely overhauls your character’s combat style. This entails learning a new control system and adjusting how you play the game, which is a treat in a title whose biggest weakness might have been how it would get repetitive over time; if you’d rather stick with blades, you still have access to the new Showdown Mode super attacks, which utilize impressive new gear to tear Titans to bits.
Nailing an anime aesthetic isn’t any great accomplishment in this day and age. That’s not a complaint. The future is glorious! It looks and feels like you’re playing an episode of the show! It even sounds like it! I’m not really sure what more you people want?! Make sure you play on PC as the console versions – PS4 and Xbox One anyway – chug a little in high-action scenes, but otherwise it’s a solid aesthetic experience on any platform (even on Switch!).
If you’ve already played the first one and didn’t care for it, I don’t really believe you because that was an amazing game. Still, you probably won’t care for Attack on Titan 2: Final Battle, either. Everyone else should probably check this one out. The Titan-killing, frantic swinging, dodging, slashing – and shooting! – gameplay here isn’t really something you’ll see elsewhere. As for Final Battle, well, it’s more of the same. Much, much more of the same. Remember how I said that these licensed games tend to be better than they need to be at this point? If you still needed proof, here it is. You’ll run out of love for Attack on Titan before you run out of game at this point.