God Eater: Burst released for PSP in North America and Europe in 2011. While it was the first title in the God Eater franchise to release in the west, the game was actually an enhanced remake of the original God Eater, which released exclusively in Japan in 2010. The sequel went through a very similar situation, as the original God Eater 2 was released only in Japan for PSP and PS Vita. Now, three years later, fans in the west will finally get a chance to play the sequel with the release of God Eater 2: Rage Burst, a revamped version of God Eater 2 that comes with new gameplay features, rebalancing and another story after the ending of the original game.
Those who played God Eater: Burst on PSP should be familiar with the overall setting of the franchise. In 2050, a race of mysterious beasts called Aragami appeared on Earth and nearly pushed mankind to the brink of extinction. Made of a cluster of "Oracle Cells", single-celled organisms that can consume anything and take on its attributes, the Aragami consumed most of the world's resources, with mankind being unable to do anything to stop this as these creatures were immune to any kind of weapon. After several years, a company called Fenrir developed biomechanical hybrid weapons, God Arc, that could kill Aragami. Individuals who use these weapons and hunt Aragami were called God Eaters.
Following a similar story setting as the original game, in God Eater 2: Rage Burst you play as a member of the Blood faction of the God Eaters. You and the remaining members of your team are tasked with missions to take down Aragami and do your best to protect mankind. It sounds like a simple plot, but it's the cast of characters that make this tale an interesting one. While not perfect or particularly well-written, they are interesting and likeable enough for you to enjoy their conversations and backstory. As you progress to through the story, you will unlock optional episodes for each character, giving room for even more character development.
The gameplay also remains similar to the original game with a mission-based structure. You start a mission and complete it, return to base and watch a cutscene or two, accept another mission, and so on. While repetitive, the gameplay and story manage to make up for this. Initially, you are only given missions with difficulty of 1, but as your progress through the story, you will unlock more challenging missions, both story and optional.
The game offers a lot of customization options with players having at their disposal six types of weapons: Short Blades, Long Blades, Buster Blades, Boost Hammers, Charge Spears and Variant Scythes. The speed, attack pattern, power and effects of each weapon type are different from one another, giving players the option to choose something that suits their playstyle. Your weapon can also transform into a gun mid-battle using the R1 button, allowing you to attack enemies from afar. There's also several gun types, such as shotguns, snipers, blast guns, and more. Additionally, your weapon can also transform into a shield to block enemy attacks, and just like weapons and guns, there are several types of shield.
The combat system itself is pretty simple, similar to typical hack and slash games, but there's a few interesting ideas in here that adds a bit of strategy to combat. For starters, several enemies have weak spots, which means that attacking these will deal a lot more damage. If you manage to break/destroy these weak points, the Aragami become weaker. You can also use your God Arc to devour an enemy, which not only deals damage but also gives you some materials and Oracle points, the later which can be used to fire Oracle bullets from your gun. In addition, by devouring an Aragami you character will temporarily enter Burst mode, which greatly increases your character's attack, defense and speed.
After a few missions you will unlock Blood Arts. These act as extensions to your weapon's standard attacks, which can add new effects and/or completely new moves. Each weapon type has several Blood Arts available, and the more you use a weapon type, the more Blood Arts you will unlock for the weapon type you were using.
Lastly, there's the party members that accompany you during the missions. While some games feature a poor companion AI, that's not the case with God Eater 2: Rage Burst. Your team companions do a really good job attacking the enemy and assist you during combat, not to mention they rarely get knocked out. At the end of each mission, your party members earn AP, which can be used to unlock new abilities and make them even stronger. Additionally, you can tackle both story and optional missions together with other players, which is always a nice bonus and is satisfying when teamwork works well.
You don't earn any experience when defeating Aragami and completing missions, which means that in order for your character to become stronger you will have to upgrade your equipment and increase its stats. To do this you need materials, which are earned by completing missions, picking them up on the floor and, like I said earlier, when you devour an enemy. You can also install skills on your equipment, adding extra effects in battle such as better defense and enhanced item effects.
While this all sounds easy to understand on paper, I must say that the game did a terrible job at explaining all this and how it works at the beginning. While some gameplay aspects were explained during the first few training missions and tutorial menus, you had to figure out the rest on your own or by talking with NPCs, making players that haven't played the previous game feel a bit lost. The story doesn't make this initial step easy either, as the first few hours are filled with repetitive missions and slow-paced narrative. After these first initial hours is when the story and gameplay start to get interesting, and if you manage to get this far, then you will sure get hooked up for the rest of the campaign, which is quite long. The story missions alone should take you at least 50 hours to complete, with optional missions and characters episodes easily doubling that time.
The presentation is a bit of a mixed bag and probably the game's weakest aspect. As I said before, this game is a revamped version of a PSP/PS Vita title, so while character and monster designs have been updated and look better than ever, the levels and scenario in general still looks bland, with basic textures and poorly detailed. On the bright side, the game's doesn't disappoint in terms of performance, running very smoothly even during all the chaotic battles. The audio does fairly well with some really good soundtracks and the voice acting being very solid as well. However, there are some cutscenes where the sound and voice sounded muffled and quiet, although apparently this seems to be a bug present only on the PS4 version.
After years of waiting, God Eater 2: Rage Burst finally releases in the west and is without a doubt a good action RPG. Despite its flaws and the tedious initial hours, what awaits after is an enjoyable experience with fast-paced combat, interesting crafting system and an interesting story with an enjoyable cast of characters, an experience you can enjoy together with your friends or other players.
|Great combat system with lots of customization options.|
|Interesting plot with good cast of characters.|
|Online co-op up to four players.|
|The first hours of the game are tedious.|
|Lack of tutorials to explain some of the game's mechanics.|
|Visuals won't impress anyone.|