Attack on Titan: Wings of Freedom is an action anime video game, developed and published by KOEI TECMO GAMES CO. LTD. It is set to release on August 26th, 2016 on PC, PS4 and Xbox One.
This game covers the main story of the anime, Attack on Titan, with the Titans that have devoured humanity to the verge of extinction, and the humans who fight against them. The humans live behind sky-high towering walls, which serve to keep the Titans at bay and have managed to for years. One day, a monstrous Titan appears, known as the Colossal Titan, that manages to kick a hole in the wall and disappears. This allows the Titans to swarm in, devouring all in their way – and this is where the game starts.
The story requires you to take control of multiple characters throughout the game, as they are seen in the anime. You will play as characters such as Eren Jaeger, Mikasa Ackerman, Armin Arlert and Levi Ackerman. As a certain scene or episode from the anime is reached in the game, you will take on whichever character is being focused on, for instance, Mikasa, when she is protecting the civilians trying to escape through the second wall, or Levi when he saves the other three main characters. Each character has their own stats and abilities unique to their personalities and skills. For example, Armin isn’t so good at combat as the rest, but he is able to give more co-ordinated orders to those in his party due to his leadership skills. When it comes down to it, though, whichever character you play as is pretty awesome at killing Titans, as you are the one in control.
As is the style in Attack on Titan, you will use your OmniDirectional Mobility gear (ODM gear), in order to quickly move around the map. This includes two grappling hooks attached to some strong metal wire that is fired from a device the characters wear on their waist. There is also another device attached to the back of their waist which propels them using gas, and the gas coupled with the grappling hooks allows you to get around the map incredibly quickly and with relative ease – imagine hi-tech military web slingers. The way you play is changed up occasionally, though, transforming when you are on a map with open fields and few structures or trees. When this happens, your ODM gear is effectively useless to get around with, and you will rely instead on riding your horse around in order to get from place to place. This stays true to the anime and is not simply added in for gameplay reasons.
The button combinations are relatively finicky at first, but that’s the point of tutorial missions, right? You swing around easily enough with a button for your grappling hooks, a button for boosting and the directional sticks. In order to fight a Titan, you need to activate the engagement mode, in which you can only target Titans and nothing else. This stops you from accidentally swinging away when you mean to instead close in for the kill. After you get the hang of it, and it will take you a bit, it will just be second nature which buttons to press and when, and you can even start pulling off some really cool moves, like hopscotching your way through Titans without touching the ground.
As there aren’t many different kinds of enemies in Attack on Titan, the developers had to create a way to shake up the gameplay enough so it doesn’t become stale and repetitive, at least not hugely. The only enemies to fight against are the Titans, who can range from 5 to 15 metres tall. Their size isn’t the thing that affects the gameplay, though, it’s how to take them down. You use your ODM gear in order to attach yourself to a Titan to reel yourself in for an attack, but you can only attack certain sections. You can target a Titan’s legs and arms in order to stop them from moving around so much and grabbing you, but the only way to kill them is to target the nape of the neck. Attaching yourself to the back of their neck, reeling yourself in and slicing out the lower part with your swords is the only guaranteed method to kill a Titan. Hit them anywhere else, other than the legs or arms, and you will barely make a scratch. This changes a bit when you start encountering Abnormals. Abnormal Titans are called thusly because they act erratically, whereas normal Titans just want to eat and kill any human they find. Abnormals will act in a certain manner, such as focusing on a particular human or a certain course of action. These Abnormals have much higher health and even, occasionally, armour on their neck. When you encounter these enemies after determining what kind it is, you need to use select items in order to assist, the items being either a flash grenade or sound grenade. Using the right one stuns the Titan, that will open them up for attacks.
The scenes where you play as Eren in Titan form are fun, but ultimately are not comprised or too complicated, with the encounter becoming a button masher. Titan Eren can beat other Titans to a pulp without breaking a sweat. It’s also fun to destroy a bunch of the surrounding buildings while grounding other Titans into mince. There really isn’t much to it, bash other Titans, and gaining profit.
One of the main gaming components that holds the player’s interest is the ability to equip and customise your own gear and costumes. You earn materials and money from completing missions and objectives, and you use these in order to buy and create better gear. This is structured in three sections: you can get new swords, reel wire and gas chambers that change a vast amount of stats, such as damage, reel speed, inventory capacity, boost speed and a whole lot more. It really offers you more to work towards, rather than simply running mission after mission. You can also quickly port into the menu and change to a different outfit which you have unlocked. Do you want to dress Levi in his cleaning clothes? Go for it, cause there is nothing that is stopping you.
Make sure to keep a track of your items as your gas, extra blades, healing items and a few other consumables will aid you in your missions. If you run out of a certain item, you can find people around the map whose sole job it is to resupply the soldiers. You’ll find that for at least the first chapter of the game, you will almost never run out of something if you’re doing well enough, and it causes you to completely forget that there are even others around the map to resupply you. This also ties into the difficulty of the game. Don’t play on easy… hell, maybe even don’t start on normal. Hard mode is still pretty easy if you know what you’re doing, as the only thing that seems to change is the level of punishment that the Titans can take. Across all difficulty modes, you will die the same way. If a Titan grabs you, you are brought to a near death state in which you must heal or recover slowly over time. If you are grabbed again, you’re done for, and the difficulty doesn’t change this. When we played AoT: WoF, even once it was bumped up to hard mode, only a very few Titans would survive the first attack on their neck, and most of these were the Abnormals.
Attack on Titan: Wings of Freedom does a great job of blending 3D graphics with that classic anime look that Attack on Titan has. The characters look exactly like they did in the anime, but now you get to see them in glorious 3D and it is truly spectacular. Just like the anime, AoT: WoF has great dialogue and audio. Even though there is no English version, you can still feel the emotion and force behind the speech. The voice acting is pretty spot on, but we still would have liked to have the option to hear the English cast in the game. The music in the Attack on Titan anime is epic, emotional and fits every scene perfectly. If the characters are zipping around slicing up Titans, you’d better believe the music which accompanies it is just as epic. If an emotional scene has been set, you know that the music is going to assist in tugging at your heart strings. AoT: WoF continues in this fashion and doesn’t miss a beat. Whether you’re swinging in-between buildings, spattering Titan blood all over the place, or watching a cutscene, the music is always there to really set the tone.
It just shows how much care the developers have invested into the game. When you decide to have a look in the gallery you will notice a vast amount of stuff in there, from information on characters, lore and Titans, to character models and tips and tricks. Before you decide to adopt the opinion that ‘all Titans look the same’, take a minute to soak in this information; there are 130 different Titan models in the game. 130! Just Titans! That is huge! The time spent on that information alone just goes to show that the developers were taking this project seriously.
Attack on Titan: Wings of Freedom is available on August 26th, 2016. The game is a faithful adaption of the anime series in looks, emotion and combat. Most video games based on a pre-existing series usually don’t do too well, as they are weighed down by staying true to their series, but thankfully the Attack on Titan series was already made in such a way that video game adaptations can be made well. If you are a fan of the anime series, you are going to get a lot of enjoyment out of this game. That isn’t to say newbies to the series won’t, but they may feel it is slightly repetitive and get a bit lost in the story. This is the reason we give Attack on Titan: Wings of Freedom a 7.5/10.
Attack on Titan: Wings of Freedom was reviewed with a PC copy of the game, experience on other platforms may vary.