Talking a big game.
It’s really, REALLY hard to talk about Bandai Namco’s long-running action-RPG big game-killing sci-fi series God Eater without mentioning the giant-sized reptile in the room: the Monster Hunter games.
God Eater is essentially the company’s anime-stylized dystopian future-esque response to Capcom’s sole money maker (it sure as heck isn’t Street Fighter anymore), but not without putting a super-powered spin on things to garner its own fanbase and dedicated following. I mean, there are worse clones and imitators out there.
Despite the comparisons, is the third mothership God Eater game worth bringing up in a post-Monster Hunter: World timeline? Yes, yes it is, because its nuances and pacing are different enough to put it in a league of its own.
Tooth & Claw
Just like your big game action titles, you and a few others hunt down small and big monsters called Aragami to complete your missions. You see them on the map and in plain sight, and you proceed to take them down until the game says “Mission Complete”.
The twist? Oh yes, there are numerous and noteworthy ones that make God Eater 3 stand out from the pack, if only for a brief moment.
First one: instead of picking one weapon type and rolling with it for the entire hunt, you have a weapon that has three forms: melee, gun, and shield. They’re self-explanatory: melee lets you do up-close attacks, gun lets you shoot enemies or even heal your party members using OP meter, and shields defend you from oncoming damage. The bigger the shield, the more defensive you can be (at the cost of loading the damn thing up; tower shields take pretty long). If you’re out of OP, you need to be up-close and slash enemies to refill that meter.
Weapons-wise, there’s a lot to choose from to accommodate your style. If you prefer far-reaching melee attacks, you can’t go wrong with the Lance or Scythe. Beginners can just get comfy with the Twin blades since they offer great combo potential and damage output. God Eater fans can test out the new Ring blade which opens up a lot of new attacks if you’re in a powered-up state (more on that later).
You also have a Stamina bar to keep into account; it’s generous but it keeps you from spamming evasive moves like your Steps, your Dodges, and the pretty-important Dive (X+R2) which lets you traverse a good distance and even home in on enemies shield-first. One good way to start an attack is to Dive into an enemy, and then do a Triangle attack to land onto the ground quick.
You also have the ability to go into Burst mode to supercharge your attacks. You do this by nibbling a bit of your enemy with a special Devour attack either by charging the Triangle melee button or quick-tapping R1 and Triangle. Go for the latter; it’s quicker. Devouring Aragami corpses is also encouraged because it’s the only safe way to get parts and ingredients. Plus, you can open up more special moves for your weapons in this mode, so get used to going God Eater Super Saiyan.
On your own, you’re pretty well-equipped and fast enough to fight off and give chase to Aragamis, but they’re no slouches either. Most of them take a while to defeat and can even gain new attacks if you break enough of their body parts or if they’re at low health. Still, the action can get frenetic since they too move pretty quick for lumbering beasts.
Think of God Eater 3 as Monster Hunter: World’s hyper-laced cousin: it’s simple to pick up after you learn the initial moves and techniques, and it blazes through its action in a crazy pace.
It’s also quite accommodating thank to your AI partners in the main story mode: God Eater 3 lets you team up with Hugo and Zeke who can help you out while you’re monster hunting. They’re pretty competent when it comes to taking down the smaller Aragamis and helping out with your mission objectives, simple they may be.
You can also go into Engage mode with one of your party members: this basically lets you share each other’s buffs and Burst mode bonuses temporarily so that the both of you can kick ass better. You do this by pressing L2 and R2 together when prompted. This is pretty useful if you happen to need a few buffs to deal more damage or even tough it out against the more drawn-out fights.
Of course, if you rather play with real people, God Eater 3 will let you do that. You have your usual 4-player co-op skirmishes and 8-player assault missions. The last one needs mentioning because the game throws a lot at you while you and 7 other people tag team with each other (for Engage purposes) and try to suss out where you are and what you’re doing amidst the chaos. Now I haven’t actually played this mode yet; I have enough trouble keeping up with the 4-player mode which is serviceable so far.
It does look like a messload of fun. Just check it out for yourself below: it’s got Aragamis that change up their AI and patterns as the fight progresses, and a time limit and challenges to escalate the 8-man sorties. I might do a write-up on the 8-player mode in the near future when everyone can start playing this beast.
If you think I’m not feeling the vibe of God Eater 3 after going through this laundry list, think again: it’s a pretty tight and solid hunting experience. The stages are short and sweet (given its PSP upbringing, it’s unsurprising), the weapon selection and playing styles are fun, and the fights with the Aragami can get hectic as you progress deeper within the game. The anime visuals too are gorgeous and fit with the whole anime apocalypse vibe the game is going for.
It also helps that Bandai Namco music wunderkind Go Shiina composed the game’s crazy epic score alongside other musicians. The guy responsible for the best Tales Of music tracks (honestly, Motoi Sakuraba’s just sleepwalking these OSTs) gets to shine with his orchestra and over-the-top battle anthems that channels the anime OSTs of late 80s and 90s Kohei Tanaka.
Standout tracks include “A World In Death Throes” and “Piercing Malice“. They do remind me of a dire version of Tales of Legendia‘s sweeping score.
A shame the story isn’t anything to write home about. You start off in a prison camp, then get an upgrade in a moving caravan doing missions for a commander with a really, REALLY battle-torn low-cut top. It’s no Xenoblade Chronicles 2 levels of fashion absurdity, but it can be a mite tough to take God Eater 3‘s dire tale of survival seriously.
There’s a bit of deja vu going on here with this game, especially if you came off fresh from the PC version of Monster Hunter: World. And the kicker here is it doesn’t matter: God Eater 3 is a fun action-packed title in its own right that makes logical fast-paced changes in the meat of the game -the beast-slaying- and simplify things so you can get to the action faster.
Granted, it doesn’t have the same “complex and immersive” appeal as Capcom’s game, but it’s not a huge detriment. Sometimes you just want to get into the business of just kicking giant monster asses using an anime character of your own creation with anime movesets and anime power-ups.
God Eater 3 satiates that giant-killing itch in an arcade-y manner, and that’s more than enough for an action hound like myself.
-Fast-paced and very action-savvy.
-Good mix of weapons and combat options.
-Well-implemented team-based mechanics offline and online.
-Lovely bombastic score & lush-looking “anime apocalypse”.
-By-the-numbers anime story about anime people.
-Not as methodical and “well-paced” as its inspiration.
FINAL RATING: 70/100