It’s taken almost two years for God Eater 2 to lumber across the Pacific and arrive on Western shores. God Eater 2: Rage Burst isn’t even the first in the series, instead it is an enhanced port of the second game (hence the 2). However, to sweeten the deal somewhat Namco have also generously bundled the rather spiffy remaster of the original game – God Eater: Resurrection. To get you up to speed; (Full review here) I’d recommend playing through the series in order too, as 2 is a direct sequel, and relies quite heavily on you already being familiar with the world. Quite a few characters from the first pop up in the sequel and it’s hard to appreciate the games’ myriad of small adjustments and improvements if you jump straight into Rage Burst, but god damn do you miss them when you go back to Resurrection.
Set in the wastes of a post-apocalyptic Japan in which humanity has been pushed to the brink of extinction by huge creatures known as Aragami, you play as a member of an elite group of God Eaters known as the Blood faction. Imbued with special Blood Art abilities that they can use to essentially turn the tide of battle, they are tasked with taking on Aragami that ordinary God Eaters aren’t powerful enough to handle.
Much like it’s predecessor, players are tasked with completing a series of missions with three teammates in tow (either AI or other players online), fighting a steady string of increasingly menacing Aragami, while slowly improving your gear and levelling up your abilities to help deal with the ever increasing threat.
Battling beasts in God Eater 2: Rage Burst is far more immediate and accessible than in the Monster Hunter series; attacking and evading your enemy is a simple affair and doesn’t require the same amount of patience or preparation. With simple controls and fairly intuitive systems, melee combat is fast and furious, with an emphasis on evasion and softening up enemies from afar, before dashing right into the middle of the fray in a similar manner ot a warriors game. However, instead of trying to best 100 weak enemies you’re tasked with taking out a handful of huge ones while wielding transforming God arcs that allow players to swiftly switch between melee and ranged weapons with the press of a button, literally taking lumps out of foes with predator mode as your weapon transforms into a giant razor-toothed maw that bites down on Aragami. It’s swift, fun and very cool.
Like all good sequels, Rage Burst refines the parts of it’s predecessor that worked well, while adding some additional flourishes of its own. These include Blood Art abilities, which add additional moves and functions to your existing weapons (with about 400 variants to unlock), and Blood Rage – a system in which you basically bet on yourself to complete challenges during combat, like doing so much damage in a certain amount of time, in order to unlock temporary special skills and buffs for your character. These fun additions keep the combat fresh, while forcing you to change up your tactics while improving your chances of success.
Once again crafting is essential to success; as before, progress isn’t tied to your character but your weapon, so it’s in your best interest to build the best God Arc you can. Progress works in a similar manner to the original God Eater with parts harvested from successful kills used to build and upgrade your weapon, armour and items. Abandoned God Arcs gained at the end of missions are used to transfer new skills and abilities to your weapon, thus boosting your character’s powers as a result.
God Eater 2: Rage Burst continues the narrative of the first game, set three years after the events of Resurrection, complete with a whole host of new characters as well as plenty of old favourites to boot, once again the games lighter moments create a nice counterpoint to the action and the bleak setting. The gameplay may be quite repetitive but you find yourself powering through to see what is going to happen to the game’s cast of likeable characters.
That being said, Japan’s current obsession with fanservice once again rears its sweaty palms, with most of the game’s female characters, despite being well written and performed, don’t look like monster hunters so much as strippers. For example,the first female character you meet, Nana, sports hot pants and a thin piece of fabric that barely covers her breasts. Thankfully though you can send her out on the hunt in some more suitable clothes.
Like Resurrection, God Eater 2: Rage Burst has a brilliant sense of style, and the Aragami in particular are wonderfully designed, while the world Namco have constructed is bleak, yet not overwhelming. That said, graphically Rage Burst faces similar problems to it’s prettied up predecessor. On the PS4 at least, it won’t win any awards for its looks as despite the 1080/60 presentation, it is still a port of a three year old PS Vita title (that also had a PSP version). As such, the areas you spend most of your time in feel basic, drab and lifeless (though not in the way the devs were going for).
The one benefit of this though is that it doesn’t tax the hardware at all, resulting in a silky smooth experience, and easily the best way to experience the series thus far. With the Vita all but written off at this point, I hope that the next entry in the series is built entirely with home consoles in mind allowing the game’s marvellous creatures to really come into their own on far superior hardware; but, seeing as it’s still going strong in Japan, this doesn’t seem that likely, sadly.
In short, God Eater 2: Rage Burst is a fantastic alternative to Monster Hunter, that improves upon it’s predecessor in almost every way. It’s simplistic graphics are unlikely to wow anybody, but it’s fantastic creature designs, likeable characters, fast-paced combat, and compelling crafting mechanics make it an experience that you’re going to enjoy.