God Eater 2: Rage Burst PC Review
Whatever the reason, Capcom are ignoring the PC when it comes to supplying those players with a traditional Monster Hunter game. There are the Monster Hunter Frontier games in Asian markets for PC, but it’s a title that follows the massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) subscription fee model, which feels strange for a title that has been based around online four player cooperative action, free I should add, on the 3DS and Wii U.
Monster Hunter created such an impact in Japan that other companies began creating games based on it, but with their own tweaks to the formula to pull in the millions of fans that play Monster Hunter regularly. Not many of those games have been released in the West, especially on PC, but Steam did receive a PC release for Toukiden: Kiwami last year (Koei Tecmo’s medieval Japanese monster hunting game), and now Bandai Namco are bringing their anime-infused monster hunting series to PC with God Eater 2: Rage Burst, a buffed up expansion to the sequel God Eater 2. This is a series that last saw its English release with the PSP title God Eater Burst back in 2011. This release is great news for fans who have been sat patiently waiting for the sequel to come out.
Rage Burst is set three years after the events of Gods Eater Burst. If you don’t know what happened in the last game, then that is fine, as buying Rage Burst on Steam comes with a free copy of God Eater Resurrection, a remake of the first game bundled with some of the features from this sequel, plus extra story, mission difficulties and weapons (it’s a value great bundle). The sequel has players creating a new God Eater – people with a special bond that allows them to weld huge God Arc weapons – to join the ranks of the Blood special forces, a group of the most elite monster slayers, who have been sent to the Far East Branch (the base from the first game) to help with their Aragami issue – the monsters of the game – while also trying to figure out what the red rain is and why it causes a fatal disease known as The Black Plague. Plus, just to make things worse, a new type of Aragami, called Psion, has appeared that can control smaller Aragami around it, causing even more trouble for the Blood God Eaters.
Story is one of the big differences between this game and Monster Hunter. The latter has never been about telling a story, being more about the action on the battlefield and the stories that come from that experience. It’s nice to have a story built with voice acting and cutscenes in a game like this, and it makes it easier to understand the calamity that is around the corner when the plot brings together the idea of fighting large monsters for the sake of humanity. Rage Burst‘s story won’t win any awards for originality, as it’s full of stereotypical characters, especially for those that watch Japanese animation, but the gang of people you meet through the story are interesting enough to be enjoyable, even if they are mostly one dimensional tropes – they do add a welcoming touch of personality, humour and banter to battles when you take up to three AI story friends into the mission to fill the gaps of online players.
The God Eater series follows the progression and mechanic designs of monster hunting games, which means everything is kept in close quarters to reduce wasted time that could be spent slaying Aragami. The hub area is where everything is accessed at – shop, story points, character interactions, including where you accept missions. Missions fall under difficulty categories that can be picked by talking to the clerk behind the mission desk, with more challenging missions unlocking as the previous ones are completed. There are a ton of missions to take part in, with a newly included “Hard” category giving access to harder monsters earlier for a bump in challenge, while all the DLC that was originally released is bundled in here as additional mission categories, meaning you can be fighting Aragami for well over 100 hours. One fault with the mission structure is that they are all the same format, which is to hunt and kill whatever the target Aragami is for the mission, be it a single or multiple, small or big Aragami. The game does not change this format up.
Combat is less demanding compared to Capcom’s game. It throws the idea of methodical thinking out of the window and increases speed and fluidity to bring much faster and simpler action. This makes it especially great for players who didn’t like the slow nature of Monster Hunter, with the weight of movement and weaponry in that game creating a slower experience. Rage Burst feels like an arcade attempt, where attacking, running, dodging, shielding and jumping are quicker, but as one might expect, due to this, the game looses some of the depth that comes with the more strategic approach to hunting giant monsters. In return, though, players get frantic action, smashing light and heavy attacks for short combinations, swiftly dodging attacks and dashing back in to carry on the pummelling with weapons so large that they should not be swinging as easily as they do, but that is the fun with Rage Burst‘s crazily over the top weapons.
Better weapons are essential in progressing. Upgrades are done by collecting crafting materials from killed Aragami by using the devouring move with the God Arc to chomp parts off the monsters that can be used to either improve the original or make a completely new weapon. Weapon selection has variety, with short blades, long blades, buster blades, hammers, spears, and the cool looking scythes making up the rounds for melee fighting. Something a little different with God Eater is that the series allows for players to take not just melee gear, but a secondary gun weapon, such as the likes of sniper guns, assault guns, blast guns or shotguns (all come with infinite ammo of the player’s selected ammo types), giving the option to switch up attacks. Metre managed is still a thing here, so it’s not all smash until win. Every attack, dodge, block all use stamina, while shooting guns uses Oracle Points (OP), which charge back up with every melee hit, but with the rapid refill of stamina, downtime is never more than a few seconds before having a full bar again.
Taking combat further over the predecessor are the new Blood Arts/Blood Rage abilities. Blood Arts are modifications to weapons to increase damage output considerably, but only one can be equipped at a time, and they are unique across each weapon type, while Blood Rage is a state in battle where a huge buff is applied to the character for a limited time if you meet the criteria to get the Blood Rage to activate. While combat might not be as mentally demanding as Monster Hunter, it still has mechanics in place to support its hyper action, but it’s a shame that the true Rage Burst experience doesn’t kick in until way into the game. The initial fights are unbelievably easy, letting players get away without properly learning the game – AI actually putting in a good performance, so playing offline isn’t as handicapping as one might think – so the first 10 or so hours do not reveal the elemental weaknesses that are import part of the harder challenges. Once the tougher missions arrive, it’s here where learning about bullet elements and weapon type can bypass an Aragami’s resistance for a stress free fight.
Up to four players can be online to participate in the same main story missions or the many side quests that pop up. Sadly, the PC version currently doesn’t have that many players, and so it’s probably best to grab a few friends to slay some Aragami together. Online seems to work smoothly during my short time online with four different player’s hosting.
As one might expect, having its origins from a PSP title that was enhanced for the Vita and then ported to PS4 does make for a rougher presentation, so no surprise then to hear that the PC port of Rage Burst runs exceptionally well. Rage Burst has a simple anime aesthetic using a good use of colour, built with good art direction and some fantastic monster design, but in terms of graphical features expected to see in 3D games, this isn’t a looker. More work was clearly put into the character models when on the PSP, and so everything else has to take a hit, such as textures being bland and flat, level layouts are empty, basic and small, and even though running the game at 4K 60FPS is a breeze with any modern graphics card – it’s an incredibly clean and sharp image – nothing can hide where its origins come from. Thanks to that issue, it means this game can be run efficiently at 1080p with a graphics card from the past five years. On the audio side, the soundtrack is solid, with some catchy tunes in its electro-rock focused soundtrack. The English voice acting is passable to not spoil the game, but for anyone looking for a true Japanese experience, sadly, no Japanese audio track is included in the release.
God Eater 2: Rage Burst inclusion of new mechanics, monsters and weapons marginally improve it over God Eater Resurrection. It’s a game that doesn’t push itself forward enough, rather, it plays safe, still suffering from issues that plagued the first game – small environments and camera hiccups. That said, this is another solid attempt at a company trying to create their own spin on Capcom’s successful series, but it ultimate suffers from pacing issues that spoils the frantic fun action. However, this game truly is for the fans that want more God Eater, and if you haven’t even touched one before, well God Eater 2: Rage Burst can deliver a fun, addictive time that supplies a ton of content, since you get the first game bundled in as well. If people can stick with the game to get past the initial effortless difficulty, I feel they will find something to enjoy either by themselves or with friends when the tough beasts are introduced.