I haven’t had too much experience with the ‘God Eater’ franchise, though it’s probably no surprise seeing that the games aren’t necessarily synonymous with Western releases and have also spent most of their life on the often neglected Sony handheld consoles. I’ve always heard and seen nice things about the games though, with the most common compliment being the similarities they share with Capcom’s much loved ‘Monster Hunter’ series.
Bandai Namco have decided to give Western gamers a chance to experience the series in all its glory, bringing not only God Eater 2: Rage Burst over to these shores but also including a remastered edition of the original game as an added bonus. It’s a nice gesture and allows even complete newbies to the series (like myself) to see not only what the latest entry in the series brings, but also its origins too.
God Eater 2: Rage Burst is set in a Japan that has been ravaged by hideous, powerful monsters known at the Aragami. Taking down the beasts is no easy feat; in fact, they can only be hurt by powerful weapons known as the ‘God Arcs’. Fortunately, you’re part of a group named ‘Fenir’ that arms its members with God Arcs and sends them on deadly missions to investigate and destroy the Aragami threat. You’re part of the powerful ‘Blood’ unit that are sent out to investigate a deadly pandemic that has struck, known only as the ‘Red Rain’.
That’s pretty much the gist of things, though I’m probably selling the story a little short. It actually goes into a lot more depth with the threat of the Aragami, the ‘Red Rain’ and how you’re going to find a resolution to the crisis.
Whilst there’s a real threat posed to the world in God Eater 2: Rage Burst, the game never tries to take itself too seriously. Whilst some of the subject matter is a bit more serious, it finds plenty of time to be charming and even a little candid – no less with the quirky female character Nana that parades around with barely anything covering her flesh. This is based on a Japanese anime; what did you expect? It’s all harmless and a bit of fun, but expect a few odd looks if you play the game around your family.
There are plenty of other characters you’ll come across throughout the game, with your typical mysterious, competitive and angsty stereotypes coming through. All the characters are likeable though, whilst your interactions with them are well written and will entertain you throughout.
Gameplay plays out across a series of missions that you can take part in with either other players online or with AI teammates, with up to four people able to take part in a mission at a time. There are an absolute ton of missions to play through in the game, with a few trickier side-missions popping up for those who like an extra challenge or to grind their skills. The story will progress in between missions too, with cutscenes and character interactions keeping the plot moving forward.
In honesty, the constant partaking in missions could feel a little repetitive, especially since the objectives typically consist of you simply killing enemies over and over. Much like the ‘Dynasty Warriors’ games, there isn’t a lot of thought to be had on the battlefield; it’s simply a case of killing enemies to succeed. It can feel like a bit of a grind, though fortunately the game’s combat mechanics are enjoyable enough that the game doesn’t start to feel boring.
The combat of God Eater 2: Rage Burst manages to feel both incredibly accessible and pretty stylish at the same time, allowing you to switch between melee and ranged attacks on the fly. You’ll pull of slick melee combos with a simple button mash, whilst you can turn your God Arc into a ranged weapon with a button press too, allowing you to wipe out your opponents from range. Sprinting, dodging, blocking and item use is fairly straightforward too, though I did wish you were able to assign shortcuts to some of the more commonly used items in your inventory.
Switching between melee and ranged attacks is essential in the game; not only to take down foes with ease, but to look like a complete badass whilst doing so. It doesn’t have the same finesse that you’d find in a game like ‘Devil May Cry’, but it’s still cool nonetheless.
Being part of the previously mentioned ‘Blood’ unit grants you with a significant advantage in battle, all thanks to the ‘Blood Rage’ combat mechanic. This allows you to use ‘Blood Arts’ and inflict significant damage against your hideous foes for a set amount of time. You don’t have access to the ability all the time, so it’s best kept for the trickier encounters – still, it can be satisfying to unleash your power against weaker foes too. It’s a neat mechanic and wasn’t in the original ‘God Eater’, bringing something new for those returning to the series to try out.
One problem I did find initially was that the camera could be a little awkward to control, but I started to get used to it the more time I spent with the game. During some of the busier battles against multiple foes it can be tricky to keep track of, but you can easily reset the camera directly behind your character to get back to grips with things.
During missions you’ll come across plenty of different items that allow you to craft new weapons and equipment, as well as improve your existing arsenal. It’s a fairly intricate system that offers a lot of depth; you won’t just be upgrading individual stats, but the actual skills of your weapons too. You’ll even be able to find crafting items by devouring fallen Aragami – your weapon can literally turn into a beast and EAT at your fallen foes, rewarding you with items in the process. It really is as cool as it sounds.
There are plenty of different weapons to use in game, with each weapon offering something different rather than simply taking a different look. You’ll often find that certain weapons are more effective against particular enemies – I’m a sucker for simply using what’s most powerful, but sometimes you need something that’s more effective at close range or even from long distances. God Eater 2: Rage Burst caters for that, giving you plenty of options to experiment with.
Baring in mind that God Eater 2: Rage Burst is also available on the Playstation Vita, and even started life appearing on the PSP, it’s certainly not a visual spectacle. The environments bordered on ugly at times, with maps that could feel a little barren of detail and full of odd textures that might even look out of place in a last-gen game.
Character and enemy models are significantly better, but even those pale in comparison to the kind of visuals we’ve seen in other current-gen releases. The actual character design is great though, and enemies certainly look the part of hideous god-like monsters.
Given that the game was originally built for inferior hardware, it’s understandable that it might not hold up as well visually as other current-gen titles. I might have been a little harsh on the visuals since they’re never outrageously awful; they just didn’t impress me. Thankfully the gameplay offers enough hectic entertainment that the poor visuals won’t break your immersion in the game too much.
With the great combat mechanics, solid storyline and enjoyable weapon crafting, God Eater 2: Rage Burst really has a lot to offer for action game fans. There’s an absolute ton of content to play through too – even if can be a little lacking when it comes to variety.
It’s not the prettiest game you’re ever going to play (far from it, actually), but it doesn’t mean you won’t get absorbed into God Eater 2: Rage Burst’s post-apocalyptic world. With enjoyable co-operative multiplayer options on offer too, you’ll have fun slaying Aragami for a long time.
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Release Date: 29/08/2016
Format(s): Playstation 4 (Reviewed), Playstation Vita, PC