If you’ve seen the highly successful anime or read the extremely popular manga, you’d think that Attack on Titan would be a difficult thing to translate to video game form. While fighting large foes is commonplace in video games, the complex and rapid movement associated with the series’ omni-directional mobility gear – the contraptions the human characters use to reach the titans – and the idea of felling them by attacking the nape using blades seemed like it would be too complicated to replicate or to work smoothly. But surprisingly enough, Koei Tecmo and Omega Force – the people behind the Dynasty Warriors series and its various spin-offs – have actually managed it with Attack on Titan: Wings of Freedom¸ a game that perfectly captures the kinetic and brutal combat and high tension of the source material.
Developed by Omega Force / Published by Koei Tecmo
Available on the PC, PS3, PS4, PS Vita and Xbox One. Reviewed on the PS4.
*Review code provided by Koei Tecmo.
Attack on Titan: Wings of Freedom is based on the anime adaption of the hit manga, and covers more that has been seen in the first season of the show. The game introduces the plight of youngsters Eren, Armin and Mikasa, as they grow from commoners to the soldiers who defend the walls against the constant titan threat and the possibility of extinction, while discovering more about the enemy and how to defeat it.
The game does a fantastic job at summarizing the events of the series, but despite this, you still might have to refer to the source material to see what’s going on, as a lot of background info is omitted, skipped over or rushed in order to have players jump right into the action. Still, it’s a fantastic adaptation which hits all the key moments and tells the story so far, and paired up with the gorgeous cel-shaded visuals and the fluid and furious animation, and solid Japanese audio, it’s the closest you can get to playing through the show itself.
The gameplay however is the best part of the game, and surprisingly enough it perfectly captures the quick-paced action and up and close combat of the series. Like Dynasty Warriors, players get to explore large battlefields, but the similarities end there, as players can take to the air with the omni-directional mobility gear and traverse the map in a flash, and also latch onto the terrible titans to destroy them by cutting into their necks. The controls are simple though a bit tricky to get at first, since players zipping around can often crash into buildings, and players must first lock onto titans, select an attack zone (players can attack arms to prevent grabs or the legs to disable mobility), and then reel in for the kill and slice at the nape by pressing the attack button before impact. The unique system will take you a couple of tries to get used to, but once you do, it’s perfect. It feels like an extremely authentic take on the series’ action, and it’s also a ton of fun to play.
The game also has players deal with limited inventory just like the source material, where characters can run out of fuel for the mobility gear or break blades, leaving them defenseless. Players can gather more stock by saving suppliers, collecting from fallen soldiers, or the remains of dead titans. This adds a small, survival element to the game, and while it can mostly be overlooked, as it doesn’t seem to really disable the player or hold you back from taking out titans, it’s an interesting gameplay mechanic.
And then, of course, is the ability to play as Eren, which is as fantastic as it looks in the series, with players being able to run around the city and brawl in brutal fashion, punching, kicking and body slamming their way to victory. These opportunities are rare and few in between main missions, but are entertaining breaks where you get to demolish enemies in spectacular fashion.
It’s amazing how fluid it all feels, though the gameplay does have one flaw, and it’s that the game seems to have framerate issues, especially when there’s a lot happening onscreen. When there’s a bunch of titans onscreen, and you’re zigzagging about chopping necks and issuing orders, the game has a habit of chugging along randomly for a couple of seconds. It’s not like there’s a hundred of enemies onscreen, but it happens often, and can pull you out of the experience. It seems that it’s an issue the developers have often in their Warriors series as well however, so it’s expected.
The game comes with a couple of modes to keep players slicing away at titans for a good while. Attack Mode has players participate in the events of the anime with some extra content thrown in, and allows them to use a variety of characters that bring unique abilities, as well as improve on their gear by collect materials from fallen titans and completing side missions to create a stronger fighter. Then there’s also Excursion Mode, which allows players to take on two types of special side missions to gather special and unique materials, but can also form groups of four players online for some tag team slaying. It would have been great to have others join in on the main campaign, but Excursion Mode is great nonetheless. The rest is standard stuff, including bios and info that expand on the game’s lore. It’s not a lot of options, but it’ll definitively keep people busy.
At the end of the day, Omega Force’s Attack on Titan: Wings of Freedom is an excellent and action packed adaptation of the highly popular anime/manga series. The mobility gear movement and titan attacking mechanics are superb, and the visuals and presentation are spot on. While it can occasionally chug along if there’s too much happening, it’s an excellent fight for survival that fans of action games and the source material will enjoy.