As a longtime fan of all things unnerving, unsettling, and flat-out horrific, I am rarely completely overwhelmed with stomach-churning repulsion or absolute terror. I’ve played through the Amnesia series without battling more than a few eyelashes, and Outlast 2 didn’t have much of an effect on me (though I will admit to getting pretty freaked out by the first installment). I’m not saying that because I feel the need to prove my masculinity on some outlandish level, but I want to impart just how much the Attack on Titan series freaks me right the hell out. Words cannot accurately describe how those oversized behemoths truly unnerve me, to the point that I’ve dreamt about being chased by those grinning, naked, sexless freaks on more than on terrifying occasion. I even like the admittedly misguided live-action movies. No joke.
And while the series definitely gives me a serious case of the shivers, it doesn’t come remotely close to filling me with the level of pure, uncut dread found tucked neatly within the Attack on Titan video game series. So when I had the opportunity to dive back into the series with Attack on Titan 2: Final Battle, I didn’t hesitate to fire up my trusty ODM (omni-directional mobility gear) one more time and head back into the fray like a suicidal scout with something to prove to his childhood chums. Even a year after playing through the story, as well as returning every so often to scratch that “power fantasy” itch, Attack on Titan 2 offers an adrenaline rush that will appeal to hardcore fans and newcomers alike. And if you haven’t picked up Attack on Titan 2 yet, the Final Battle edition is definitely the way to go. Again, no joke.
For some, Final Battle might feel like a double-dip, but Koei Tecmo has stuffed enough content into this expanded edition to warrant a purchase, even if you went the extra mile and splurged on the countless bonus stories and costumes the first time around. In addition to the spiffy character-oriented content that revolves around the third satisfying season of Attack on Titan, there’s a mode that allows you to take back areas of the world where the titular titans have set up shop. Again, it might not sound like enough content to warrant another swipe of the ol’ credit card — especially when you’re dealing with Koei Tecmo — but Final Battle pushes a lot of very tasty morsels onto your already jam-packed plate, and if you already have an appetite for the core gameplay loop, it’s difficult to turn your nose up at it.
Before digging a little deeper into what this robust package has to offer, let’s do some housekeeping for those who haven’t spent a lot of time felling freaks and hacking off limbs within the Attack on Titan universe. In fact, I’ll keep the overall plot brutally simple while nimbly dodging potential spoilers: Mankind wakes up one day to find themselves sharing the world with legions of nekkid, grinning, sexless giants who, unfortunately, seem to have an insatiable hunger for human flesh and blood. To protect themselves from this threat, the little, defenseless humans erect a series of very tall, very thick walls and build an army to protect everyone from the threat of being squashed, eaten, or a grotesque combination of the two. And, for a while, all goes well — the titans exist on the outside of the walls, and the humans try to ignore the looming threat that’s literally on their collective doorstep. You can probably see where this is headed.
You guessed it: Before long, this arrangement all goes to hell in an oversized meat basket. A new and improved titan suddenly appears, kicks a hole in the outer wall, and lets its smaller (though equally terrifying) brethren scamper gleefully into the city. Some people die grisly deaths, while others look on in horror as their loved ones are shoved into the gaping maws of those lumbering, clothing-deprived monstrosities. While some of these individuals probably ended up in therapy for the rest of their lives, others decided to take the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and transform them into a burning thirst for vengeance. Your character, who keeps a journal of his or her adventures through this hellish landscape, happens to fall in the vengeance category, which, admittedly, makes for a much more engrossing, violent, and suspenseful video game experience. Of course, I wouldn’t be opposed to a therapy-oriented AoT spin-off (hint hint, Koei Tecmo).
After learning the basics of combat, you’re dropped directly into the heat of battle. The first order of business: reclaiming Trost District from the hideous clutches of the titans. Although you learn the ropes during the tutorial missions, the epic confrontations within Trost are where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. With the press of a few buttons, you’ll use the ODM to launch your character into the air, where he or she can zip through the surroundings by swinging Spider-Man-style between buildings. If you want to kick things up a few notches, you can opt to spend some fuel to launch your hero across the landscape at high speeds. Engaging with the titans can feel more than a little finicky at first, especially when you’re trying to lock onto a specific body part. The controls never really come together as they probably should, and you’ll frequently struggle to keep the camera aimed at the titan you want to defeat, but overall, it does a fine job of capturing the frenetic action of the anime. Purchasing and/or leveling up your blades and gear definitely makes the combat a little easier later on.
Your character’s heroic journey coincides with those of the central characters from the Attack on Titan series; instead of influencing major plot points or driving the story forward, you’re essentially a very important cog in the big bad machine. Eren and his pals still run the show and remain the focus of the overall arc, but without your assistance, they’d probably have a much tougher go of it. This, of course, means that you’ll have to watch all of the major beats unfold yet again, and this might rub some people the wrong way, especially those who want their character to have his or her own unique journey through the world of the titans. Granted, your hero isn’t a pleeb by any stretch of the imagination — but they’re still essentially a side character in the Attack on Titan universe. You’ll also become friends (or really good acquaintances) with everyone, have endless conversations about training and Eren and his pals, and spend time getting to know everyone’s quirks. There’s never a lack of something to do, and you can do as much — or as little — of this side content as you wish.
Now, as if you didn’t already have enough to keep you busy, Attack on Titan 2: Final Battle amps things up by introducing Season 3 content into the game, which adds additional story missions, tosses in a few new playable characters (bringing that total to over 40 altogether), and gives you some new equipment to mess around with on the battlefield. For fans of the series, this essentially rounds out the package considerably, as Attack on Titan 2 kind of left you feeling a bit incomplete at the end of the day. Without spoiling anything for those who’ve yet to watch Season 3, let’s just say that the fine folks at Omega Force did a fine job of incorporating the new episodes into the Attack on Titan 2 package without it feeling like a cheap cash-in. Again, if you had any reservations that this might be yet another double-dip from a publisher known for attempting to take as much money from your wallet as humanly possible, rest assured that this is a true expansion.
Once you’ve finished with the main storyline and the Season 3 content, you can then move on to reclaiming territories. This mode allows you to build a gaggle of scouts, send them out into the world, and retake areas where the titans are essentially squatting. In fact, you can spend countless hours in this particular section of the game, and I find myself wanting to head back into the fray even when I’m playing other games. It’s something that pretty much assures that Attack on Titan 2: Final Battle will stay on my PlayStation 4 until I simply need the space on my hard drive for something else. And even then, I’ll really have to take a look at what else I can delete first.
If you haven’t already noticed, I adore Attack on Titan 2: Final Battle. It frightens me to my core, but I still adore it. Like most of you, I worried that Koei Tecmo wanted nothing more than to kick open my bank account and make off with a large portion of my hard-earned cash. The publisher has a track record of trying to squeeze as much from fans as possible, but this, thankfully, isn’t one of those times. Final Battle adds a ridiculous amount of content to a game that’s already packed with things to do — and then some. So, if you’ve been straddling the wall like a hunger-stricken titan about whether you need to own this game, now’s the time to pull the proverbial trigger. Final Battle offers the complete package, and you’ll get so much bang for your buck that it borderlines on ridiculousness. Strap on your ODM and take flight — the world of titan needs you, and Final Battle will give you plenty of reasons to head back to the field of battle.
This review is based on the PlayStation 4 version of the game. A review copy was provided to us by Koei Tecmo.
With the addition of Season 3 story content, new playable characters, new weapons, and a mode that allows you to reclaim the world from those pesky titans, Attack on Titan 2: Final Battle offers up enough extra stuff to warrant a double-dip.