REVIEW / God Eater 2: Rage Burst (PC)

 

The God Eater (or Gods Eater) series is an exceptionally popular Japanese action RPG developed by Shift and published (sometimes developed) by Bandai Namco Entertainment. The series began with the Japan-only release God Eater, which was then enhanced and released as Gods Eater Burst in Japan and English-speaking countries, then further remade as God Eater Resurrection. Likewise, God Eater 2 was originally a Japan-only release but has now come to the west in the form of God Eater 2: Rage Burst.

 

That rage bubble is about to burst.

That rage bubble is about to burst.

 

God Eater 2: Rage Burst takes place three years after the events of God Eater: Resurrection, wherein a strange red rain has begun to spread a fatal pandemic called the Black Plague (probably not that black plague, though). With a 100% mortality rate and no cure, members of the special unit “Blood,” an affiliate of the Fenrir Organization, are sent to assist and investigate the disease. Somehow they plan to do this by fighting with big monsters called Aragami – whose literal translation is “raging/violent gods” – with super-massive transforming sword-gun-shields made from parts stripped from their enemies? I mean that’s cool and all but it’s hardly an antibiotic, is it?

After you enjoy the beautifully animated anime opening and start up a new game, you are thrown into character creation. You can choose your gender, first name and codename to start before moving on to actual appearance customization. Fans of anime-style character design will be thrilled with the wide variety of hairstyles, hair colors, eye colors, accessories and more available in God Eater 2 which conform to this style. You can change your hairstyle, hair color and accessories at any point during the game, which is excellent if you think your character needs a haircut that better reflects the dramatic plot.

 

GE - character appearance

 

Despite being completely mute except for battles, you have a variety of voices to choose from as well, should you want your grunts and screams personalized. Speaking of screams, the first cutscene shows your screaming character having their compatibility with the “Blood” unit tested – naturally, they pass. After a couple of cutscenes you’re basically set free in the world (currently three locations within the Fenrir organization building) to do as you please. You can talk to the operator in the lobby to access missions, check out the archive to enjoy previous cutscenes and the game’s soundtrack, or you can check out the terminals near the operator to change your loadout, party support abilities, weapon and material crafting and upgrading, and dress your character in new outfits. The vending machine in the lobby has new outfits and items for sale, although there’s a surprising number of clothing choices made available to the player from the get-go.

The first available missions are tutorials which cover the absolute basics of fighting. Most of your instruction about the insane weapon, shield and support character customization options comes from pop-up windows after battle or NPC conversations. Alternatively you can access basically every chunk of information about gameplay via the terminals, which are also updated when you receive new information.

 

Something  for which I need no instruction.

Something for which I need no instruction.

 

Honestly, unless you’re the kind of person who learns well without pictures, video or actual practical application, you’re going to find the wealth of text-based information about the game completely overwhelming and barely helpful. If the game explained itself in more detail during tutorials or post-battle messages, it wouldn’t be so bad; but I feel like apart from really basic crafting and standard battling, I’ve been more or less left in the dark about how to harness the finer points of the game.

Despite flailing wildly in the dark with a supersized sword, the main event of the game – battle – is exceptionally fun. Your melee weapon can be used in a standard hack-and-slash manner, but can also be transformed into a gun for long distance attacks. Reverting to melee attacks will build up OP so that you can use your gun again, or you can block enemy attacks by transforming your weapon into a shield.

 

GE - scythe

 

There are so many different types of melee weapons, guns and shields to choose from, and obviously different types come with advantages and disadvantages (i.e. certain shields offer much higher defense but deploy slowly, whereas others have low defensive capabilities but deploy very quickly). I tried out a few different blades, scythes, guns and shields and all of them were fun to use and you can actually feel where their strengths and weaknesses lie during battle.

When you have four party members in battle at once and a swarm of Aragami surrounding you, the shouts, roars, flying damage digits and ramping music create a beautiful chaotic atmosphere. It is exceedingly enjoyable in a really destructive way. Furthermore, picking up items around the field and ‘devouring’ your enemies with the weird Aragami face that pops out has a gross but satisfying feel to it.

 

GE - devour

Say “Aah!”

 

Since I didn’t play all the way through the game, I can’t comment on the storyline as a whole. However, at least at the beginning it progresses quite slowly. The missions become quite repetitive over time due to the same Aragami and environments popping up over and over. Often you’re left wondering how many you have to complete before an NPC will finally say something different and give you a cutscene to push the story forward.

The missions are usually complete well within five minutes and so they don’t drag on too long, but I did get a bit bored of the game after an hour of playing it on the computer. I imagine this sentiment would be shared by those playing it on the Playstation 4, as well. God Eater 2 would probably be better suited to handheld gaming, and thankfully there is a Vita release.
GE - team strong battle

 

The overall design of God Eater 2 is very aesthetically pleasing, although while playing it on PC I encountered some seriously bad screen tearing. I’m unsure if it was due to the particular computer setup I was using, or whether the game was just a bit lacking on this front. At least the menu design, while overwhelming by virtue of all the unexplained options and items, is clean and crisp and easy to navigate.

Stop! Hey, what’s that sound? The music in God Eater 2 is to die for. And if you really like a particular song, you can go to the Archive in Fenrir Lobby and listen to the music as much as you want! I can’t praise the composer enough; from the opening rock theme with vocals that really complement the atmosphere of the game to the gentle, beautiful piano music on the main menu theme, it’s all wonderful and perfectly suited to the game. As an aside, I could have sworn that the mission setup menu theme was composed by Masafumi Takada because it’s so similar to the Class Trial setup music from various Danganronpa titles. As an extension of this, during setup you can change your operator (the person who commentates your missions) and the BGM playing during the mission, which is quite fun and makes things a little more fresh when the environment is the same as that of the last mission.

 

Please don't be talking about me.

Please don’t be talking about me.

 

The voice-acting is okay, but not super impressive. Sometimes there are weird sound bites over otherwise voiceless, subtitle-only cutscenes, which can be a bit of a mood breaker. Some of the excited soundbites when teaching your support characters like Nana and Romeo new skills are a bit cringe-worthy and probably weren’t in the original Japanese version. Likewise some of the lip-syncing is truly horrendous. One of the opening cutscenes has some of the worst lip-syncing with animated characters that I’ve seen in years. Luckily there aren’t that many cutscenes with moving mouths and voiced dialogue, so during my playtime it didn’t happen again.

I’m strongly considering picking up God Eater 2: Rage Burst for my PS4 or Vita, since my current high-end PC setup does not actually belong to me and I feel like I would enjoy it more on a console (or handheld for the reasons stated earlier). I think the visuals are very appealing, and that’s due in part to me liking a lot of games with anime-style character designs (recent Persona and Tales of titles, for example). I really enjoyed the amount of character customization available because in a sea of preset anime-style protagonists in JRPGs, it’s nice to feel like you’ve actually made your own character.

 

One of my errors.

One of my errors.

 

Unfortunately the more important end of the game’s extensive customization promise – the weapon crafting and upgrading – really fell short by virtue of being too hard to understand with so little instruction. You have a wealth of written knowledge at your disposal, but the game doesn’t avoid hand-holding so much as it shoves you into a pit and hopes you figure out how to climb in 15 hours or so through trial and error.

The missions are fun at first, but at least in the beginning there’s so little variation in the Aragami and environments that it feels like a chore you have to push through to get to the next slice of story. This is the prime reason that I suggest this game would be better-suited to being purchased as a Vita game. I think that the game would offer hours upon hours of fun if it was in a situation where it could be easily picked up and put down on the move.

 

GE - garden with julius

The perfect game to play while sitting under a tree.

 

I really like God Eater 2: Rage Burst. I love its music, its themes and its extensive options for  customisation but it would greatly benefit from being more accommodating to new players and better story progression speed. I’d happily have another five tutorial levels on the basics of battle and customisation if I thought it would help me enjoy the game more. These are pretty significant disadvantages to an otherwise thoroughly enjoyable game, but I will still consider purchasing it. However, perhaps I will wait until it falls in price.
 

 

This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.

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