Title: Attack On Titan (A.O.T.: Wings of Freedom in Europe)
Developer: Omega Force
Publisher: Koei Tecmo Europe
Platform(s): PlayStation 3/4/Vita, XBox One, PC
Version Reviewed: PlayStation 4
Released: Out now!
If you’re reading this review, then you’re probably already familiar with the pop-culture phenomenon Attack On Titan. Starting as a manga in 2009, the franchise really took off with its critically acclaimed anime adaptation in Spring 2013, so now, you can’t really venture that far into the anime fandom without hearing about it!
Of course with a property this successful, it was a given that the series would eventually be adapted into the video game format and today, I’ll be reviewing the latest release – Koei Tecmo’s ambitious Attack On Titan (officially known as A.O.T.: Wings of Freedom in Europe).
Following the story of the original series while dropping you into the various battles throughout, Attack On Titan follows Eren Yeager and his friends Mikasa and Armin in a world where humanity lives within the same confines of three giant walls. For one hundred years, these walls have protected everyone from the monstrous “titans” that roam outside, but when a hole is blasted through one of them by a colossal titan, the lives of Eren and humanity is changed forever.
Flash forward five years and Eren has enlisted in the Survey Corps military branch, who venture outside the walls to learn more about titans and protect humanity from the threat they pose, utilising the series’ iconic Three-Dimensional Maneuvering Gear to fly around and attack the titans’ weak-point. The game drops us into the story just as Eren is about to graduate from training, which is the perfect place for a quick tutorial.
The tutorial gives us the basics of using the Maneuvering Gear to fly through a forest setting, as well as teaching us how to defeat titans. The gear does take a bit of getting used to, especially to become good enough to fly around at any decent speed, but once I got the hang of it, I found myself managing to stay in the air and only very rarely hitting the ground. Fighting titans is a simple affair of targeting their neck and swinging around until you have a clear enough shot to slice it open. Battle does become more difficult with larger titans, whose arms and legs you can slice off to slow them down, as well as those who will try and protect their neck, so a certain amount of damage must be done before the finishing blow can be struck.
Gameplay consists of story missions that all tend to run in a similar fashion of requiring you to fly around and kill Titans while protecting your team-mates. Some missions will end with a fight against a larger, stronger titan that takes quite a bit of slicing to finish off. There are also some missions that will see you playing as Eren in his Titan form (yes, he has the ability to transform into a titan), which usually consists of you literally punching other Titans to death. Variety is given in the form of being able to play as a number of different characters who all have their own unique skills (more are gained as you level up); although they largely play the same, it does make for a nice change.
I’d love to write another paragraph here about what else the game offers but sadly this is mostly it. As you progress in the game you do unlock the ability to take on new missions away from the story that help unlock new equipment and gallery information on our cast. I’m playing on the easy difficulty and can blast through the missions in about 5-10 minutes each, which is quite nice because it offers the ability for easy pick-up and play if I have a little spare time.
It’s also worth noting that the game does cut a lot of story content that isn’t directly tied to the lead up to a battle. If you’re already an Attack on Titan fan and have seen the anime, then this isn’t a problem as it’s bridged together smoothly enough, but if you’re not already familiar with the ins and outs of the plot, then you should probably check out the source material first.
Once the credits roll and you’ve finished the main story on offer (which follows the story through to the anime’s end), you can unlock some extra story missions by completing the unrelated missions I mentioned earlier. There is also a quest system post-game, but this boils down to very generic offerings such as kill [X] amount of titans, complete this many side missions et cetera. It certainly adds re-playability, but at the same time, it becomes boring pretty quickly.
On the whole, Attack on Titan plays really well. Flying about on the Maneuver Gear feels seamless and doesn’t require a great deal of thought or input from the user beyond controlling your direction and hitting square. Fighting Titans is also really fluid and beyond me crashing into the odd tree or building I’m satisfied that the game handles extremely well. Developers Omega Force deserve a lot of praise for making the system work so well! They’ve obviously taken a lot of inspiration from the Warriors series in terms of how the game works in the majority of areas, such as the missions, but that lends itself well to the world of Attack on Titan and has worked for the best here. You can only upgrade/purchase new weapons and Maneuver Gear, including Levi style dusters which are great fun to kill Titans with. It’s a solid system overall.
Graphically we have a bit of a mixed bag, at least for the PS4 version. Character models look really nice and very true to the look of the anime, but the general surroundings and maps as a whole look like that of a polished PS3 game. It’s not something that turned me off the game, but between that and the trees, houses and bushes that simply pop into the distance as you fly around it’s easy to see that the game hasn’t taken advantage of the PS4’s power as much as it probably could have done. As this game is rated an 18 in the UK, there are a lot of blood and guts flying around but if you’re sensitive to that kind of thing then the gore can be lessened in the options. I personally kept it on as it’s definitely not as bad as other 18 rated games I’ve seen, but I can see why it’s nice to have the option in there anyway.
My biggest complaint with Attack on Titan however, is the price tag. On the PlayStation Store, the PS4 version is going for £55 (£50 for PS3 and £40 for Vita). The Vita price is far more reasonable, but considering how limited the variation of gameplay is, I can’t recommend paying more than £30-£35 for it. To pay more than that, you have to be a really big fan of the series and know what you’re getting into. Physical copies can be found for as low as £38 for PS4, but I’d personally recommend just waiting out the next big PSN sale and see where the price goes. It will undoubtedly drop at some point, especially on the PS3 where a £50 game is quite unheard of these days.
I find myself quite conflicted overall, as I am a big fan of the gameplay and just how well the game handles, yet looking at it objectively I know there isn’t much to the missions, which leaves them with the ability to get old fast (although I personally haven’t found myself being bored). I definitely recommend Attack on Titan fans picking it up (perhaps on discount) because it plays so well, but if you don’t like the Warriors-style beat everything up gameplay then it probably isn’t for you. Hopefully a sequel could add more to the missions but as it stands we certainly don’t have a bad game – just perhaps a little lacking in places.
Disclosure: A copy of “A.O.T: Wings of Freedom” was supplied by Koei Tecmo, the publisher, for the purposes of this review.