Friday, September 9, 2016

Review: God Eater 2: Rage Burst

We are Blood, a highly technical organisation using massive swords and heavy weapons to defeat nasty slavering beasts! What's that? Yeah, of course you can go in to battle wearing a beanie hat and baggy cargo pants, or a crop top and hot pants young lady, or a 70's pimp outfit, certainly sir - no worries!

That's probably my main concern with the Vita's latest God Eater installment that finally arrives in the west. Yes, they did it in Freedom Wars (with some of the same dev teams) but you'd think that a highly militaristic organisation, roaming the world in a massive tracked city, would have some sort of camouflage and super-suit armour for these kids. Certainly, a chunky power suit might stop the characters whining like three-year olds whenever they take a nip from an Ogretail.

God Eater Horrible History

Back to the game, and Bandai's answer to Monster Hunter, originally launched on the PSP in 2010, still kicks ass with a metric fuck-tonne of short and sharp beast-bashing missions. The series went God Eater (PSP), God Eater Rage Burst (PSP, an update to the original) 2013's God Eater 2 (PSP and Vita) then 2015's God Eater 2 Rage Burst (Vita, PS4 - another update with new beasts and missions).

So, while the engine isn't exactly cutting edge, and PS4 owners might feel a bit hard done by on the visuals front, what we do have is a slick and smooth Vita game to enjoy, with Cross Play against those very same PS4 players.

Once your character is ordained within Blood - I wonder what happens to the people who don't make it through? They get suited and booted, and are sent on a batch of training missions. The controls are pretty frenetic with lots of use of the triggers to switch between sword (or polearm) and gun, for targeting and various toggles. There's also a range of status bars to monitor, and the chaos of multiple allies and targets all rushing around to cope with.

Slashing around with the sword is fun, and the gun is brilliant, but naturally limited on power for bigger calibre weapons, in the early missions. Bullets on the other hand, there is literally a massive database on them and the whole Blood Bullet, Blood Rage and Blood Arts thing is a saga in its own right.

In fact the database probably comes close to spoiling the game, there's just too much in there. Cut it in half or have a best-fit auto-equip option. Still, I guess some players will love all the customisation, but I just want to get out there and blat things!

Out in the Wilds

When you've finished piddling around with upgrades and wading through the database, it is time for action. Pick missions, ranging from Standard, Hard, Extras, Special, Rage Burst and Even More Special, choose some comrades and get out there to slay things, which is the real heart of the game.

Perhaps the most fun move in a game ever is X,O which makes a character jump, set to light to a fart and rocket forward - well that's what it looks like. That helps you get around a little faster, and is useful when escaping a creature that's either charging or charging up. You can pick up winning battle strategies pretty easily, or just wade in and club things to death - both seem to work.

The tougher creatures require a little, but not much thought. The early battles last barely a minute, but as you advance, there's more groups to tackle, with a little route marching between them, allowing you to heal and restore. At the end of a battle you can dish out credits and rewards, just as you give them a stream of orders in the melee.

Every now and then a little bit of politics or drama in the cut scenes unfolds to add to the plot and drag the story forward, but you're generally battling in similar environments, Or, Emil launches into yet another long winded speech - either way you'll soon be battling more Arigami with the plot thickening all around you, as each character's story develops.

Trophies are distributed well, multiplayer is sparse, but growing and, apart from it being annoying when monsters run away to hide, this incarnation of God Eater has enough variety and bustle in battle to make it a long term hit.

Score: 9/10
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Price: £34.99 (PSN)
Developer: Bandai
Progress: Touring Asia with the joy of Resurrection to play

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