There are certain times in television, comics and movies where a property just makes sense as a video game adaptation. The visceral manga/anime Attack on Titan is precisely one of those properties. Featuring high speed action, a compelling story and some very passionate characters the anime feels like a Shadow of the Colossus on uppers. Therefore, it came as no suprise when the series began receiving attention from the video game industry. Having released in Japan in February of 2016, the high flying game has now been brought to the west.
Developed by: Omega Force
Published by: Koei Tecmo
Release date: August 30th, 2016 NA
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Vita, PC (Reviewed on PS4)
Launch Price: 49.99 USD
Attack on Titan Features
- Intense and high flying action using omni-directional gear and lethal blades
- A variety of game modes with numerous missions to tackle, solo or with others online
- Engaging story that follows the events of the anime’s first season
- Dozens of unlockables, from characters, music, models and more.
Story & Setting
Over 100 years before the beginning of the story, giant humanoid creatures called Titans appeared and nearly wiped out humanity, devouring them without a hint of reason. What remains of humanity now resides within three enormous walls that encircle the land. The outermost is Wall Maria, the middle wall is Wall Rose and the inner is Wall Sheena. For 100 years humanity has lived within these walls. One day, a Colossus Titan mysteriously appears and kicks through the outer Wall Maria, allowing the smaller Titans to invade. The outer district is ravaged with the survivors retreating within. With humanity pushed to the brink, their military mobilizes to lead the fight against the Titans, making use of Spiderman-like grabbling equipment and deadly swords.
The plot of the game mirrors the progression of the anime, covering the events of first season, and adding some new scenarios involving key characters. If you’re familiar with the anime and are a fan you’ll find a lot that you already know with some fresh content mixed in. If you haven’t watched the show, the story’s mix of intrigue and action lends itself well to a video game adaptation. This is preserved through the game’s Attack Mode which follows the episodic events of the show.
The story is progressed via cutscenes, missions and pieces of background info dossiers during load screens. Within a couple of hours, you are very up to speed with what’s happening in this world and what the character motivations are. You are given the opportunity to play as different characters at certain points in the story’s progression, but equipment is shared between them all, allowing you to focus on the game’s progression. In all, the story comes together well and follows a consistent and easy to follow narrative.
Gameplay is divided into 2 modes: Attack Mode and Expedition Mode. The types of missions they feature are very similar across the modes, with some background differences.
In Attack Mode you play through the original story which starts with an animated cutscene explaining the background and events of the show. Afterwards, you launch into missions that follow the events of the main story. Missions have ratings where you a graded based on your effectiveness. The better you do the more XP you get, increasing your Regiment Skill and Soldier Skill. Increasing Regiment skill makes new equipment available in camps and allows for development of other gear. Increasing Soldier Skill allows you to learn new skills which augment your titan killing abilities. Players can also earn Regiments Funds as a reward which are used to pay for developing new equipment. As you progress in Attack Mode, you’re treated to animated cutscenes that move the story along and provide exposition for players unfamiliar with the anime.
In Expedition Mode you embark on Survey Missions and Expeditions either offline or via online multiplayer. In these missions anything you earn and upgrade is shared with the main Attack mode. You can select any of your unlocked characters to play as in these missions, with characters unlocked as you progress through the main story in Attack Mode. This positive feedback gives a reason to explore both game modes extensively. When you launch into Expedition Mode, you enter into a camp whether you’re offline or online where you can prep your gear and select your chosen mission. When playing online, the party leader picks the mission, and all who have joined signal when ready. Expedition Missions are a series of battles. Completing several in a row increases the amount of XP and funds rewarded as well as special materials. Survey Missions are regional missions that involve investigating and clearing out certain locations for rewards. The more progress you make scouting an area, the more characters you unlock in your muster roll gallery. The online works well, but doesn’t encourage teaming up. Players just tend to zip to whatever end of the map they want, and the missions are usually trivialized by player skill.
Combat takes place in 3rd person perspective, with characters using omni-directional mobility gear to grapple the landscape and swing around. You tether onto one of several possible targets on the Titans and then can perform a variety of charge attacks with your equipped weapons to do damage. Weapons degrade and the gas powering your grappling tool depletes, so you have to make periodic visits to support scouts who act as charging stations. The weapons and gas deplete at different rates, depending on how you are using or abusing the mechanics, but within normal use, the game finds a nice a balance between constant replenishment and. It’s enough to make you consider and monitor their levels without being a nuisance and adds an appropriate level of tension to a mission. Gear upgrades as you progress set you up with more gas and blades if you find you’re running out.
Taking out a Titan involves tethering onto their body parts and taking them out progressively until you can easily access the back of its neck (nape) to kill it. Cutting their limbs off weakens them and leaves their nape vulnerable, but limbs will heal and regenerate making it vital to deal a large amount of damage at high speed. Severing limbs also provides the additional advantage of dropping the materials you will use to upgrade your equipment. Titans can grab you if you leave yourself too open or are moving too slowly, and from this hold will eat you unless you button tap out quickly enough to escape. Being eaten constitutes a game over. This battle system is frenetic, intense, and gratifying when everything works right. In a congested battlefield however, it is easy to lose track of where your character is, with titans and other soldiers flying all over the screen. Fortunately, the game is forgiving and death is something that comes only if you’re being extremely careless.
If attacked during a point of near-death, you enter Focus Time, during which time is slowed down. During this period you can perform an evasive maneuver while a timed meter depletes. When the meter is empty, regular time is restored. This mechanic is restricted to a limited amount of uses, but is a useful escape mechanism. In the heat of action, frantic button mashing during one of these moments bailed me out a few times.
Titans vary from the lumbering predictable oafs to Abnormals who move with more lethality and less predictably. They range in size from small to colossal. As you progress through the game, you encounter new types of Titans as well as new methods for bringing them down. Individually they don’t present much of a challenge, but during later missions when they’ve flooded the landscape, cutting down their sheer numbers with speed presents a challenge, if not a chore. At a certain juncture in the game, you are able to play as a Titan yourself, and during these portions, the game takes on beat-em-up, destroy everything feel similar to the classic arcade game Rampage.
The types of missions you take on during the game are pretty straightforward: Repel an invasion, protect citizens and high value individuals, or protect a defensive facility from being destroyed are your typical orders, and within them, the objectives play out similarly. Your priority is to complete the main objective, as many side missions as possible, cut down as many Titans as possible and all as quickly as possible. Your effectiveness across all of these criteria determines your mission grades and rewards. These missions are enjoyable at the onset, but as the game nears its conclusions, the formula drags on a bit.
During certain missions, team members will arrive and you may recruit them and issue commands to them based on the tactics needed. Once you get the hang of surveying the battlefield and issuing commands to your allies, the game takes on a very satisfying tactical feel. Using your team effectively is key to speedy takedowns, which result in better scores.
As the mission plays out and you proceed across your sometimes unclear main objectives, smoke signals will appear on the battlefield, triggering the various side missions. Completing them earns you new allies as well as improved final missions scores. They can be numerous (seemingly endless) but quickly navigating and completing them can be rewarding.
After completing your primary objectives, you will trigger a final objective. When the final boss arrives on the scene you can issue a call to arms to bring in reinforcements and boost your abilities while stopping weapon and gas depletion, and how you’ve performed up to that point in the mission determines the kind of reinforcements you get. Taking out the last marked Titan ends the mission and you’re taking to your judgement screen for scoring and rewarding.
Once you get the hang of how to bring down a Titan quickly and work across the map with speed while coordinating your teammates to bring any down in your path it becomes easier to earn those desirable S ratings. However, the game doesn’t really give you a clear idea of just how many Titan subjugations or side missions you should aim for per mission, making each mission a bit of a guessing game. Heading in with the philosophy of kill every Titan you see, while taking on every Side Mission you see as quickly as you can seems to be the most effective method of getting an S rank.
Materials are earned as rewards for completing missions and destroying specific Titan body parts. These materials are used when developing new gear. You get more than enough materials to upgrade the gear that you want. There are not an extensive amount of upgrade options and since you share gear across your characters, you can be pretty fairly well equipped early on, leaving you with an overabundance of materials. The game’s focus is on action and not gear, so your times is well spent practicing your grappling and techniques.
You need this practice because missions can be chaotic in cities, with the camera trying to keep up with the action around walls. Occasionally you’ll lose track of your player in the chaos of falling Titans. Traversing through the streets can be a bit tricky to get acclimated to, especially when faced with higher structures. The map pointer is large, making it a little imprecise when looking for targets. With side missions and distress calls there’s a lot going on and it’s not always entirely clear what the priority or main objectives are at first. However, when in doubt, just tether onto the nearest Titan and start hacking away.
Camps are social areas between missions where you can speak to other characters to begin events and fill in the story, develop and acquire new equipment and take a load off. From here you can also return to previously played missions to try your hand at better scores and rewards, giving an extra replayability to the game.
The Gallery is where you view your progress obtaining and unlocking everything there is to see in the game, from music, to character models, equipment, titans encountered and more. Much of it automatically unlocks at story progression as you encounter them, but others must be earned by completing missions and acquiring new gear. It’s a nice way to measure your progress and completionists will get a kick out of it.
All tips and tricks shown through the game are stored in a handy Tips and Tricks section, alleviating any of those oops I pressed the button too fast and missed it. They give you an opportunity to also brush up on the particulars of certain features. I always appreciate these helpful inclusions in games, as swapping between all the games we play sometimes necessitates a brief refresher.
Everything moves along in a snappy fashion, there is not a lot of waiting around, extensive loading screens or tedious menus. The game gets right to the Titan killing action. It’s easy to navigate your way around the menus and find your way into new missions.
Graphically, the game looks good, bearing a strong resemblance to the anime. During chaotic moments, some clipping was present, but thankfully, slowdown was not. Aside from the odd horse on the roof of a building glitch, the game plays out smoothly. The score is solid, and fans of the anime will find themselves pumped up by the music and themes.
Attack on Titan feels just like playing the anime, and that’s a good thing because the anime is good fun. The story is entertaining and thought provoking enough to be interesting and should appeal to even those unfamiliar with the series. The gameplay mechanics are straightforward, and despite lacking depth, are perfect for an action gameplay setting. The missions are easy to pick up and launch into, and are fun to tackle alone or with others for their own sake, even if the rewards are not entirely meaningful. This is the kind of game you boot up after a long day and just swing and hack to your heart’s content, until you’ve left your titanic burdens behind.