- Format: Xbox One (version reviewed), PS4, PS3, Vita, PC
- Unleashed: Out Now
- Publisher: Koei Tecmo
- Developer: Omega Force
- Players: 1 (offline), ? (online)
- Site: http://www.koeitecmoeurope.com/attackontitan/
- Game code provided by the publisher
Attack on Titan may be a manga & anime about humanity driven to the brink of extinction by giant naked people (yup), but it’s full of surprisingly solemn and human moments. This is a large part of its huge global success… and not at all present in this game adaptation. This shouldn’t really be a surprise given that the developer is Omega Force, surely best known for the distinctly unsubtle Dynasty Warriors games; but y’know what? There’s plenty here for fans to scream “squeee!” at.
It’s best to think of this as a version of the first anime season that you can play, with the emphasis necessarily and very firmly on action; and as such, the appeal is possibly only for existing fans. There is plenty of story (though with significant omissions), told exclusively through cutscenes using in-game graphics, 99% of which is taken directly from the anime. Whenever you’re given control, though, you can guarantee that you’ll be asked to do little more than run around killing titans. In fact, that’s all you’ll ever do. It’s therefore mightily impressive that, for fans at least, what is essentially one-note gameplay remains engaging.
It looks and sounds just like the series. That alone would have been enough to get fans giggling like schoolgirls, but kudos muchos to Omega Force for going the extra mile in franchise authenticity. Titans even behave as they should, pulling dopey faces and walking & diving with the same bizarre movements as they do in the anime. They’ll slap, kick, grab, dive, and – for the smarter ones – attempt to defend the nape of their neck, which is of course the only area where a killing blow can be landed.
Yup, the titan-killing franchise rules remain true here. You can dismember a titan bit by bit if you like, chopping off arms and legs to stop a titan attacking and/or escaping. Yes, if you leave the limbs too long, they’ll regenerate. Often, however, you have the option of going straight for the neck, resulting in a one-hit-kill if the titan is weak enough and you make your approach correctly. You’ll sometimes want or need to remove limbs first; either because one or more limbs are marked as yielding materials used in developing/upgrading equipment, or because of the aforementioned nape-defending.
The ODM gear which allows you to whizz through the air is great and, importantly, simple to use. One button sends anchors into the environment or a titan before flinging you forward, another button gives you an optional burst of speed. There’s just one attack button, with the damage you deal dependent on your use of the ODM gear (and the effectiveness of your blades) more than anything else. At a fundamental level, the faster and more accurate your approach, the harder you hit. This isn’t quite so simple as it might seem. Any nearby titans can and will make a grab for you while you’re in mid-air, and your target will probably be on the move. If the nape or limb you’re aiming for becomes partially or wholly obscured in some way before you hit, you’ll deal minimal or no damage. If a piece of scenery or another titan gets between you and your target while attached, the cable will snap.
You’re never fighting alone. There will always be others on the battlefield, both anonymous NPCS and fan favourites such as Mikasa, Levi, Erwin, and Armin. Usually you start off with just a few allies or no squad at all, and you’ll need to recruit people (up to a maximum of four). Soldiers are ranked from C to S. Characters from the series (higher ranked than anonypeeps) are ordinarily recruited by completing side missions, marked by green smoke signals. It’s worth going to the effort of recruiting better fighters as soldiers will actually help, even on occasion saving you when you get grabbed (you can otherwise escape by mashing the attack button).
You get to control a variety of characters throughout the story, and eventually you can choose who you want. Again true to the source material for example, one of them can transform into a titan (wink wink), Levi starts off at a high-ish level with more than competent titan-slaying skills, and – interestingly – Armin can actually command others to attack titans, meaning it’s entirely possible to go through a whole mission without once launching an attack yourself.
Surely any AOT fan will be grinning with glee as they soar through the air murdering enormous nudists, but there are issues even beyond the inherent repetition. These are mainly issues of a technical nature, such as frame-rate struggles in a few of the visually busy forest levels. We also ran into a few escort side missions where the individual we were meant to escort refused to move for ages like a petulant child. Most unforgivable of all, though – and we can only vouch for the Xbox One version we played – the online mode is completely broken at time of writing, any attempt to join a public game resulting in an unpleasant noise and a game crash. [UPDATE: Online now works and, while it does the job, doesn’t add enough to increase the below score]
Still, if you’re happy with an offline experience (until the issue is hopefully fixed), this is little short of a fan’s dream come true. It’s crammed full of enough content to keep you playing for a few dozen hours or so, and far beyond that if you want to unlock absolutely all artwork, titan models, upgrades etc and earn that elusive S rank for each mission. The epilogue chapters even take the story beyond the first anime series, and introduce a new titan; though having to plough through piles of previously optional missions for each chapter seems a bit harsh. Even before that though it’s a great AOT experience, especially during moments such as your first titan transformation and your fights against the female titan. If you’re hungry for as much Attack On Titan as you can get your hands on, you’re going to absolutely love this.