March 30, 2011
Set in an apocalyptic world overrun and devoured by creatures known as the Aragami, Gods Eater Burst revolves around a group of warriors known as, you guessed it, Gods Eaters. You play as a New-Type Gods Eater just freshly recruited by the Fenrir group, an organization dedicated to protecting the last remaining humans on Earth from the Aragami, as well as building an impenetrable and self-sustaining sanctuary known as the Aegis Project. According to the lore and history, the Aragami were originally minuscule clusters of cells that grew at an obscene rate, taking the form of monstrous creatures and eventually consumed most of the planet.
The story is interspersed between missions, usually giving you a grasp on a narrative thick with conspiracy and some interesting plot twists, albeit somewhat predictable ones. Regardless, the story and characters are quite engaging, especially for a game of this type. While your avatar doesn't actually talk during event scenarios, the development and relationships with the supporting cast certainly does its job of engaging players with humanity's desperate struggle for survival. What's great is that players can enjoy the story at their own pace. So if you would rather be hunting monsters, there is a long list of different missions you can tackle before moving on with the story, although completing story missions will unlock even more gruelling challenges.
Gods Eater's story is actually pleasantly surprising. It may seem geared more towards the anime crowd, but it certainly deals with themes like scientific morality and the questionable steps taken as a result of humanity's desperate will to survive. While only the main characters get any real screen time, the rest of the cast is fleshed out enough to keep the atmosphere interesting by feeding players their personalities bit by bit either through story events, conversations and messages. The narrative also enjoys some decent voice acting. Although it's nothing amazing, and can sometimes feel forced, it certainly helps to convey a lot of emotion.
As a New-Type Gods Eater, you - and the one other New-Type - are the only fighters capable of wielding the New-Type God Arc, a Gods Eater's weapon that is infused with the very cells that make up an Aragami, that is capable of transforming between blade and gun. Old-Types only carry either one form of the God Arc. This creates an interesting dynamic in battle as you'll find yourself switching between each form on the fly depending on the circumstances. The battle system is not unlike other games in the genre, although it's much faster in pace and feels more like something out of an action anime series.
You select a mission from headquarters, set up your party, equip and pack the right equipment and set off to find your mark. You can perform light and heavy attacks, as well as combine the two for some powerful combos. Holding down on the heavy attack button will turn your blade into a giant demon mouth and releasing it will have you devour your enemy. Devouring while the Aragami is alive will trigger Burst Mode, which boosts your agility, defensive and offensive abilities. You'll also inherit the abilities of whatever Aragami you devour and this can be fired off with your God Arc's gun form, or you can fire a team bullet at your allies, activating Link Burst Mode. Receiving a team bullet from an ally triggers Link Burst Mode as well, but also gives you the ability to fire a Condensed Bullet that is far more powerful than the regular Aragami bullets inherited from devouring an Aragami.
Unfortunately, the gameplay experience can be hindered by the camera, which gets a little too easily stuck on walls and in corners. Although the maps are relatively open and there are no loading screens between zones, which is great, the camera just doesn't agree with the environment. It gets even worst when you lock on to an enemy, then it just spins around in circles and you get to enjoy a massive headache. There is also a severe lack of variety among Aragami, with only a handful of different types and a limited amount of variations that range between different elemental stats. The core gameplay itself is incredibly addicting and Monster Hunter fans will certainly enjoy this enhanced battle system. However, unlike Monster Hunter, there is no ecosystem among the Aragami. You'll only ever encounter your marks and maybe one or two other smaller Aragami on any one mission.
The game also gets really easy once you begin to familiarize yourself with each Aragami's attack patterns. Generally, they'll be quite offensive until you deal enough damage, then they just go crazy and get even more offensive. If they're weak enough, they'll run away and hide in order to recover. The only real challenge here is that the more taxing missions simply throw two, three, and even more boss level Aragami at you, all at once. It's a bit ironic considering the game encourages some form of stealth early on when hunting Aragami. With that said, you can attempt to fight strategically by issuing team commands like search for the mark, disperse and retreat or converge at one spot by bringing up the team command menu, but it doesn't always work according to plan. Dispersing when under attack from multiple Aragami will usually split them up, but when you converge your team, the Aragami just follow them again and you're back to square one with several monstrous and awfully hungry looking beasts on your case.
Complimenting the core hunting mechanic is the crafting system. You can buy basic equipment at the shop, but the key to obtaining stronger components for your God Arc is by crafting and upgrading them. There are various components that can be crafted and upgraded, including the gun, blade, shield and control unit. You won't be sticking to a single weapon either. Depending on the mission, you'll have to equip the appropriate components that'll get you the best results. So if an Aragami is weak against Freeze and Pierce type attacks, you'll want to equip components that have high Freeze and Pierce stats. I should also mention that the recipe for crafts and upgrades will require loot devoured from specific Aragami.
In addition to crafting and upgrading your equipment, you can also customize your own bullets. Don't be fooled, this is no superfluous customization system. If you want to create a bullet that fires off a laser, followed by scattered shots fired at a 15 degree angle upwards and a spinning round that twists and turns around you, you can do it. It's an impressively deep and engaging system that will have players who want the right bullet to get the job done hooked for hours on end.
As with any game of this type, local multiplayer is expected and you can hook up with three other players to tackle over a hundred different missions. The amount of replayability is outrageous and monster hunting friends will certainly get a kick out of this. If you're alone, don't fret, you can take AI controlled team mates with you on missions. If you like a challenge, you can solo each mission.
Graphically, the game looks pretty average on the surface, but it's the subtleties like weapon and costume details, as well as weather effects, that keep the game looking good. The animation is also super fluid, complimenting the fast paced action. There are only a handful of maps, but each one offers a unique enough battlefield to fight on and your battle tactics will have to change to suit each one. As mentioned earlier, the voice acting is pretty decent, with some really high points like Alisa's emotional breakdown partway through the game. At the very least, there's little about it that is actually cringe worthy. The soundtrack is pretty interesting. Some tracks are simply background noise while others are an interesting mix of punk rock and gothic choruses. One little niggling issue with the localization is that while the subtitles read "Gods Eater," the voiceovers always say "God Eater" instead, which is understandably easier to say.
Gods Eater Burst is certainly quite a nice take on the monster hunting experience. The story will have players engaged and the fact that you can enjoy it at your own pace is a nice touch. The battle system is easy enough to grasp, although the shoddy camera can really hinder the experience at times. Missions can also be really easy, providing little challenge for vets of the genre. On the other hand, it can be quite frustrating for newcomers, considering how fast it plays and how much the camera sticks to places you don't want it to. Aragami also lack variety, although the designs are quite unique for the handful of types you'll encounter. All things considered, fans of the genre should definitely check the game out.
You can read more about GamingUnion.net's scoring policy here.