Attack on Titan: Wings of Freedom Review

There are a lot of things in life that make you laugh when they shouldn’t. Young children falling over on a patch of ice, two drunken old people having the least effective fight in the universe, and of course, the faces of the supposedly terrifying monsters that populate the world of Attack on Titan.

Attack on Titan is a story about a future humanity who have taken to living behind giant walls to protect themselves from giant, man-eating, humanoid monsters called titans, who roam the rest of the Earth eating anyone they find.

The game follows the story of the anime pretty much to the letter, although it does skip some of the plot that happens in the very earliest parts of the show. The plot of the game follows Eran Yeager and his friends as they complete their training in the military to go out and hunt titans. Just as they are about to graduate, the titans attack once again and the group of young fighters find themselves in the midst of a pitched battle with giant naked monsters.

Visually, the game does an impressive job of looking like the anime, unlike lots of anime games that have a strange ‘uncanny valley’ quality to them. If any given frame of the game were taken and showed to people, they may be forgiven for thinking it were actually a shot from the anime itself, something that doesn’t tend to happen all that often in anime-based video games.

Having said all of that, it may not be a good thing that the game looks so much like the show that it’s based on. One of the biggest problems that people, especially those who don’t watch anime, have with Attack on Titan is the animation and design on most of the titans. To put it simply, they look ridiculous. They run around with goofy grins on their faces mainly looking like the dopiest puppy in the animal shelter. I gather the intention of such a design is to make them more horrific, it’s supposedly more horrifying that people are being eaten alive by something that looks like a giant goofy human being, but honestly it’s more likely to make you laugh than scream in terror.

For those not familiar with the anime, the way that humans fight these giant monsters is via special equipment called a 4-D movement system. Basically, they have two things on their hips that shoot grappling hooks and blast gas out to propel them through the air. Effectively, this functions like Spider-Man 2’s movement controls, but, fortunately, this game has combat that is designed to work with this slick freedom of movement instead of being like chalk and cheese.

As you move around the world, you can freely attach to pretty much anything, as long as there is actually something there to attach to. Once your grappling hooks have found purchase, you will be propelled forward instantly by the gas and you will sail through the air once the hooks detach. You can also activate a burst of the gas from your 4-D to shoot forward without the use of the grapples, something that is frequently useful when trying to cross open ground, but to this end, you also get a warhorse later on.

When you get close to an enemy, you tap a single button to go into combat mode where your camera focuses on the titan in question and, depending on their size, a certain number of reticules will appear. You can then attach your movement gear to a specific body part and send yourself shooting towards it, finally tapping the attack button to slice a chunk out of them.

At first, you can be forgiven for thinking that the combat is a bit repetitive, especially since it’s made clear to you at the start that the titans’ weakness is the nape of their neck, often requiring only a single decent hit to take them down. However, it becomes clear as you make your way through the first chapter that you will quickly have to do more than just attack to get your way through this game.

Firstly, you have limited reserves of both gas and blades; they run out if you blast around too much or try to take on too many titans without replacing them. This means that you can’t just run around attacking and killing willy-nilly, you’re just going to end up running out of juice and getting stomped on. Other than that, you also have to take into account the character you are using, each one has different ways of playing. Some are heavily offensive and have good movement speed, so you can take out pretty much anything you come across, while others have better tactical skills but do basically no damage, meaning you have to rely on your teammates to actually take down the bigger titans.

While most of the missions basically just rely on you taking down titans, you can also be responsible for protecting key buildings or escorting people who have a particular objective to complete. Admittedly, most of this is done simply by killing titans, but the killing of titans and moving around the world feel so good that it takes a surprisingly long amount of time to get boring.

In between missions, you get the chance to buy new equipment or upgrade what you’ve currently got, as well as earn experience from battles that gives you new power-ups and abilities. The RPG side of this game adds a lot to the experience, meaning that you can sometimes earn new moves to try out or gain an advantage in a battle that was giving you a lot of trouble before.

The nice thing about all this equipment upgrading is that it doesn’t matter which character you’re using, the equipment is shared across all of them. This is especially useful when you move from a character with high attack attribute to a character with low attack attribute, as the better weapons can be improved to compensate for the loss of attack power a little. On top of that, there are actually two XP bars, the first is for individual characters which control your learned abilities and power-ups as mentioned above, the other is uniform across all your characters and affects…health and damage, I think. Unlike the other bar, there’s no constant metric to keep track of what this XP bar is doing, so it can be a little hard to understand its benefits, but it has to be doing something good. Right?

As well as the main story mode, called attack mode, there is also an ‘expedition mode’ with both online and offline varieties. The expedition mode basically functions like an endless mission mode where you can keep doing different missions and exploring the different environments as any of the characters that you’ve unlocked in the main story. Most of these missions are different variations of ‘kill titans’, but overall it’s nice to have the option to do so with friends across expansive environments.

The music of the game fits quite well with the show, in fact, for the most part, it seems like it’s the score from the show that has been planted directly into the levels of the game itself. Either that or it was so close to the style and tone of the music from the series that I couldn’t even tell the difference, and isn’t that basically the same thing as using the music from the show?

Developer: Omega Force

Publisher: Koei Tecmo

Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One

Release Date:  26th August 2016

Score: 90%