Are you a fan of Monster Hunter? Enjoy beating beautiful goliath creatures into bloody pulps and using their carcasses to forge new weapons but not overly sold on the medieval/prehistoric fantasy setting. What if it was set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, had an over the top story about humanities last stand against giant demons or had just an inkling of an anime artstyle. The God Eater franchise is easily the choice in Japan if you’re after that sort of mission based monster hunting. Now it’s hoping to make a bigger mark in the west with Rage Bust a revamp of the second title. As a fan of Monster Hunter and an avid follower of all things anime I was keen to jump right in. Although it did take longer than expected to start enjoying it. Roughly 10 hours…
You are a God Eater, a person capable of wielding a special type of weapon known as a God Arc. Thrown into a specialist unit known as Blood, your job is to track down and eliminate the large number of god like beings or Aragami responsible for humanity’s downfall. God Eaters are far and many assigned to different branches all over the world, what makes Blood different from everyone is their ability to use powerful Blood Arts but more on that later. Joining you are a ragtag team of anime cliches from the cheery but inexperienced Nana to the uptight combat focused Ciel. They’re not a particularly stand out group of individuals but you do get a nice sense of chemistry when they’re together cheering and complimenting each other in the flow of battle or relaxing in the hubs dining room. Slow as the story may be to hook you, once you’re into the flow of things you won’t be disappointed with the 30+ hour campaign.
Combat is fast and free-flowing playing out like your typical hack-n’-slasher with some shooter gameplay thrown in. God Arcs are specialised weapon for fighting Aragami, essentially they’re melee weapons fused together with some form of gun attachment. You’ve got your usual guard, dodge and jump inputs and two attack buttons that can be strung together to perform a multitude of different combos but more satisfyingly is your ability to switch between close range combat to range at the press of a button to switch up your tactics. The main feature the game seems to push though are the Blood Artes I touched on earlier. Basically as you fight you gain experience for moves you’re using, which when maxed extend your combos, give way to new moves or boost damage etc. It’s not a particular standout feature but it gradually enhances the already fluid combat controls.
Once you’re dropped in to the hub for your branch it’s hard not to notice all the similarities with Monster Hunter. Fights play out in a mission format that range in difficulty, with more challenging and specialist tasks becoming available the further you press on. You’re not alone on these either as you have the option of taking up to 3 additional fighters from the varied cast members, as well as assigning support units to reap even bigger after-battle rewards. Don’t worry about your AI controlled team mates bringing you down either, surprisingly they’re rather good at holding their own in a fight. You can bark orders at them to keep them in check but if left alone you’ll find they’ll heal and buff when necessary, know when is best to attack or fall back and perhaps most importantly they’re quick to pick you up when your down to ensure you’re always in the action.
So what’s there to do outside of missions? You’re free to explore a couple of small areas around the different God Eater branches. Mostly you can just wander and interact with your team members to advance individual story scenarios but the key feature and your best friend is the terminal. From here you can upgrade and craft new forms of weaponry and gear, organise you teams skills, customise your loadout, bullet types and even read your mail. Rage Burst has a varied amount of mechanics going for it but they’ll require some experimentation and patience to fully get to grips with each feature. Essentially fighting Aragami nets you various resources to spend on new equipment, while completing mission bags you weapon skills to upgrade. As Monster Hunter fans will be aware this is where you’ll spend the majority of your time, tirelessly working towards that shiny new weapon.
Now time to address the gripe I have with this game, and for anyone new to the franchise it is glaring problem. It is very slow to get off the mark. Sure it’s got a flashy action-packed anime introduction that hypes you up and puts you in the monster slaying mood, but once you graduate the brief combat tutorial you’re dropped in to the complicated world of God Eater at the deep end. The story is slow and convoluted, frequently jumping between plot points and pointing out references to the previous title. Then there’s the numerous and unexplained mechanics to deal with. Yes you get a nod to certain gameplay elements and when they come into play but they’re not explained very well. For example it took me 5 ours to realise Burst mode wasn’t a random chance event, that I could activate it simply by devouring Aragami that were still kicking. Or there’s the fact it took 8 hours and a miss-pressed button to discover I could switch bullet types on the fly.
Rage Burst is a Playstation 4 port of a Vita game so like you’d expect the graphics aren’t quite up to scratch on the big screen, but interesting character, monster and environment designs do well to distract from that. The only flaw with the games presentation comes across in the voice acting. There are genuinely some good performances from the cast and you can tell their lines were all well written but the quality of the sound changes from cutscene to cutscene. At times you get a nice crisp sound then in the next moment they sound like the lines have been recorded while the voice actor was sitting inside a wardrobe.
God Eater 2: Rage Burst is a very good game when you find the right foothold. It really shines when you’re in caught in the middle of something like customising your gear, further developing a character or simply slaying wave after wave of boss type Aragami, taking in the full extent of the fluid combat system. However getting to that sweet spot is task in its own. 10 hours of easy but stunted fights, fumbling through numerous customisation mechanics and a story that backtracks and jumps about at a pace can be overwhelming to so many gamers.
+ Enjoyable post-apocalyptic story
+ Fast fluid combat
+ Switch up taking tactics on the fly
+ Lots of customisation options
– Very very slow to hook player in
– Bad compression on the voice acted scenes
– Lot of time and patience learning different mechanics
This review is based off a review code of God Eater 2: Rage Burst provided by Bandai Namco Entertainment.