"Monster Hunter with plot" is how God Eater was once described to me. Well, after the runaway hit that the Monster Hunter series has turned out to be, it's no surprise that everyone and their grandmother is out to catch lightning in a bottle twice with the same formula. So how does the third God Eater game, God Eater 2, hold up?
Good -- 3-in-One Weapon
One of the unique features of the God Eater series is the weapon characters use, the God Arc. A God Arc is like a gigantic Swiss army knife -- a close-range weapon, long range gun, and shield all in one.
Using a God Arc can take a little getting used to in the beginning, but once you find a type that suits you and you get the hang of it, combat becomes a lot more fun and engaging.
Good -- Jump
This game has a jump button. I should not have to explain how being able to jump around and over enemies makes for a much more exhilarating hunting experience, but it really does. Also, by using your God Arc to literally take a bite out of an enemy, you temporarily gain the ability to double jump, which is always cool.
Good -- Competent AI
Throughout the game, you are introduced to a colourful variety of companion characters to join you on your missions. They each have their own weapons of choice and combat styles, but one thing they all share is the ability hold their own. Most of them also do a good job of watching your back by offering heals or buffs when you're in need.
If you or a companion falls in battle, someone else can revive you/them by forking over half their health. In most cases where this happened, the person being revived tended to be me. Throughout my time with God Eater 2 I think there were maybe only 5 or 6 times where I found myself reviving an ally, instead of the other way around -- and it was usually because they had just lost a good chunk of their health reviving me.
Mixed -- Difficulty
God Eater 2 went through a whole lot of fine-tuning and user testing throughout its development. As a result, the game is very well-balanced. The missions get steadily harder as you progress through the game, but never really impossibly so.
It was pointed out to me that while in Monster Hunter you generally go into a mission expecting to lose, in God Eater you generally go into missions expecting to win. I have found that this is very much the case. The game does become challenging as you go along, but never to the point where I felt like throwing my PS Vita across the room. People who expect a hunting game like this to give them a hard time might find it a little lax.
Mixed -- Bullet Editing
One feature of the game is that you can customise your God Arc. Aside from the main blade, gun, and shield, you can also customise the bullets you use with the gun mode of your God Arc. This allows you to create specific bullets for specific types of enemies, or general kick-arse bullets that you would not be able to use through normal gameplay.
Unfortunately, the bullet customisation process itself is a little confusing and a good deal of it ends up being a lot of trial and error. It's usually easier to just look around online for how other people made their own super bullets and copy those instead of spending time developing your own custom bullet like the developers probably intended.
Mixed -- Plot
The game actually has a plot with character arcs and everything. Granted, the characters aren't really very complex and the twists in the story are for the most part predictable, but there is one and if you let yourself get into it, it's quite fun.
Sometimes the way you have to complete hunting missions to progress the story can feel a little contrived, and in some cases like padding, but going on missions with the characters and hunting with them helps to get you engaged and feel empathy for the characters.
God Eater 2 offers a lot in terms of high-pace action for lovers of the hunting genre. The action is well-balanced and you generally feel like a badass when you manage to take down some of the tougher prey. If you've played and enjoyed the previous games, or are on the fence and curious, God Eater 2 is definitely worth checking out. That said, it doesn't really offer all that much to change the minds of people who don't like such games.
Side note: The multi-player is fairly straight-forward, but that experience is usually only as good as you or the people you're playing with are.
One additional note: the PS Vita version is much prettier than the PSP version.
God Eater 2 was released in Japan on November 14th for the PS Vita and PSP. There is currently no word on a Western release.