Q Reviews: God Eater 2 (PS Vita/PSP)!
Whenever anything popular comes about; be it a novel, a piece of art, a food and of course a game; it will always get imitators.
While often times, such imitators end up being a poor copycat effort that fades into obscurity, occasionally a product is created that does the opposite. These creations take what made the original idea great, and add enough original elements of their own that enable it to have its own success.
One of these examples is God Eater.
several elements from
one of the best selling game franchises in
Where God Eater distinguished itself from Monster Hunter was adding several new elements to the mix. On the practical side, it chose to focus on a fast-paced, team-based system and adding an anime aesthetic that appealed to a wider audience. It also added more eccentric touches, such as giving gamers a "Jinki"(God Arc); an armament that's a melee weapon, firearm, and a gigantic "Predator" mouth all in one.
'Gods Eater Burst', the US-release of the game
Image source: Wikipedia
Needless to say, I became a big fan of the game when it released God Eater Burst, the expansion to the first game in 2010.
The special 'Fenrir Edition' God Eater 2 PS Vita Bundle!
It's been what's felt like forever since then however, and upon God Eater 2's release in November 2013, I took it as a good excuse to both get myself the new Playstation Vita 2000, as well as finally get back to the MH-pretender-that-could.
Does it live up to expectations after the 3-year wait?
Set 3 years after the events of God Eater Burst, God Eater 2 puts you in the shoes of a new protagonist; a rookie who has just been enlisted into "Blood" - an elite group of God Eaters under the banner of the Aragami-fighting army called Fenrir, from the first game.
Together with the rest of the group, you take on a bevy of missions to hunt down various Aragami in the area, while the threat of the Crimson Rain; a blood-coloured phenomenon that causes those caught in it to contract the fatal Black Plague; is ever-looming.
At the very core of it, God Eater 2's story and characters are admittedly nothing too amazing. Nearly every element of the story; an apocalyptic world, monstrous threats, a ragtag group of mostly-youths with varying levels of dysfunctional-ness; is a common trope of just about every anime out there.
Old & New characters galore in God Eater 2!
Yet at the same time, it's these little touches that help God Eater stand out in a genre where story tends to take a backseat, or more often than not, is completely absent.
As predictable as it is, the story and characters are still easy to relate to. This is further enhanced by one of my personal favourite features of the series; being able to create your own character with extensive customizations, and having him or her prominently featured in the game.
Having a pleasant chat at the cafe with Ciel
Not just being delegated to hanging in the background, God Eater 2 wisely uses the in-game graphics for most of its story cutscenes This allows it to feature your character in the centre of the action, interacting with the other NPCs.
Group bonding time!!
Coupled with the cast's strong voice acting performances, God Eater 2 still manages to successfully keep you engaged and invested in the happenings, even if you have seen some of this stuff before.
As mentioned earlier, the God Eater series has always played like a faster-paced, arguably more accessible version of Monster Hunter.
Not much has changed in the big picture in God Eater 2; you still can take on assignments from the mission counter to go up against a variety of awesomely-designed Aragami. You blast them with your Jinki's gun mode, swap to melee mode if things get heated, defend with your shield, and take a "bite" out of them to steal an ability to use yourself or pass to a teammate, and obtain materials to make better gear.
You can now also help other characters in their own optional 'character missions'. Won't you help Canon improve on her terrible aim...?
Newly added in God Eater 2 are several new Aragami with varying degrees of freakish ugliness to take down, as well as new variants to some of the older ones as well.
The Boost Impact - one of the Boost Hammer's many powerful moves
Long time God Eaters will also be interested to know that new weapons have been added to the mix as well. The Boost Hammer strikes slowly but has a super-fast boost attack with a devastating range of different attacks that drain stamina, and the Charge Spear mixes the properties of several Bladed weapons, but wraps them up in a nice, powerful & stylish package. On the ranged side of things, we get a Shotgun that acts just like how you'd expect it to, specialising in powerful close-to-medium ranged shots.
The biggest new addition however, is the Blood Arts.
The 'Final Blow'; one of the several Boost Impact Blood Arts
As you do your weapon's various attacks and maneuvers, you build up experience points and eventually level up a particular move you do the most often and earn its Blood Art.
Upon equipping it, your once-normal attack is now replaced by the Blood Art, which grants it several new properties from HP draining, to extra damage, enhanced invulnerability, and in the case of the Blood Bullets, access to attacks you normally won't get normally.
Playing with friends can be hilariously fun
The new Aragami, weapons and Blood Arts certainly do add a good amount of new content, even for veterans of the series. The Blood Arts especially, do help you to personalise your character even further, and it gives you more incentive to keep playing to see just how ridiculously flashy your moves can become. Combine this with the team play mechanics; whether with friends or the AI; and any action game fan is in for a great time.
As great as all this is however, most of the additions are mostly incremental in nature and there's nothing really "ground-breaking" here at all.
The game makes almost no real usage of the Vita's hardware features such as the touch screen or rear touch pad. While I applaud them for not forcing any unnecessary gimmicks that could've gotten in the way of the already-fast-paced gameplay, one can't deny that at the heart of it all, it's a "more of the same" syndrome right here.
While that's mostly a good thing right now, with the franchise still being relatively fresh having only having 2 entries and 1 expansion to its name, I do hope they try something a bit more adventurous in the next outing.
With huge,detailed weapons, ferocious looking Aragami, flashy effects and brightly designed characters that are decked out in clothes that can be best described as a "Hyper Harajuku" style, God Eater 2 has a very appealing art style to it that looks great.
Getting reacquainted with Alisa, from the first God Eater!
The in-game graphics are vibrant and clean, running at a fairly smooth frame rate for most instances with the exception of especially busy moments.
The music also puts in a strong performance, with a good variety of intense, rousing tunes to keep you pumped for each and every battle.
Your AI teammates are once again, surprisingly helpful
The voice acting once again, is extremely strong, with every character's personality being distinct and relatable (even if clich éd), and your NPC allies conveying essential information to you in battle.
Whether you're on Vita or the PSP, you're going to get a very similar experience, which is both a good and bad thing.
A cool free DLC extra for old fans - God Eater Burst outfits!
On one hand, PSP users who don't wish to upgrade to a Vita yet, don't get the short end of the stick as the experience on both platforms is almost identical and are even compatible with each other.
While vibrant & smooth, God Eater 2 doesn't really push the Vita's limits
The negative side however, is that the game does very little to push the limits of the Vita. Aside from the increase in sharpness and shading, both versions don't look too different from each other, and at a glance, can even be indistinguishable.
While I totally applaud Bandai Namco for making the game accessible to as many gamers as possible, it's hard to not imagine what could have been done if the game had been optimised to take full advantage of the Vita.
I can't deny that on one hand, I'm a little letdown.
The wait in-between God Eater Burst and God Eater 2 was long & agonising, and what we got is a game that is pretty much a by-the-books sequel that mostly provides a "satisfactory" level of additions for our wait. Having taken 3 years to make,and debuting on a new platform to boot, I was expecting to be utterly blown away, and I can't quite say I have been.
Image source: Siliconera
However, I am still more than satisfied. God Eater 2 is still a very solid new entry (if long overdue) into a very fun game series, and I'm thrilled to see it expanding even further and standing on its own identify, no longer being just a Monster Hunter clone.
Is God Eater 2 a good enough reason alone to buy a Vita for? Probably not.
But at the end of the day whenever I play (and especially with friends), I'm too busy killing Aragami, creating new weapons, and playing "dress up" with my character to care.
And sometimes, that's all that really matters.