Attack on Titan / A.O.T. Wings of Freedom

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Complete Review & Description

Attack on Titan: Wings of Freedom (WoF) is the latest release from Koei Tecmo and Omega Force. Before playing WoF, I was a fan who had let life get in the way of diving into this harrowing series. I am always sceptical of adaptations, especially given that this game was going to be my first experience with much of the early parts of the story. I was dubious but hopeful that playing the game would prove a capable substitute for Hajima Isayama’s wildly popular series.

For those who are unfamiliar with the series, Attack on Titan (AoT) sees humankind pushed to the brink of extinction by gigantic monsters known as Titans. These foes appear mysteriously to destroy settlements and devour people. As a final resort, the last vestiges of civilization have retreated within a massive fortress that keeps the Titans at bay until one fateful day when the outer wall is breached.

The game covers the main events of the first season of anime through a number of striking cel-shaded cutscenes and in the levels themselves. In broad strokes, the story is focussed on the main action scenes in the series thus far. Omega Force also included a number of optional conversations that do justice to the series’ characters and fill the moments between missions with meaningful content. The original Japanese voice cast are also present to provide consistency across mediums. Ultimately, this is an impressive way to present the story that retains much of the core content.

WoF also features gameplay that works well to replicate the feel of the series. The 3D Manoeuvre Gear (3DMG) is simply a joy to use, with the game making it simple to whizz about the Trost District and reel in to strike a Titan. For sections on the plains beyond Wall Rose, horses come into play. Titans can be easily targeted from horseback to allow for quick transition between travel and combat. Given that maps in WoF are large, having options for fast, enjoyable traversal are a boon.

Combat is equally enjoyable, even if it features a few unpolished edges. Battling Titans is a fluid experience, and the fun of hurtling in for a strike never loses its thrill. As per AoT canon, attacking the nape of a Titan’s neck will kill. Limbs can also be targeted, with cutting a Titan’s legs shutting down their movement, while removing arms prevents the possibility of being grabbed. The latter is particularly useful, as the awkward animation and accompanying button mashing when in a Titan’s clutches is something that I wanted to avoid whenever possible.

There is a kinetic feel and appearance to combat that makes WoF feel distinctly like Attack on Titan, and this is contributed to with the desperation of managing blades and gas for the 3DMG. Blades, sheaths, and the 3DMG can also be upgraded to improve battle performance. Raw materials and funds are scarce, further heightening this desperation as upgrades often need to be prioritised and budgeted.

Unfortunately this is undercut somewhat by the level of difficulty. While they look terrifying, I never truly felt challenged when fighting Titans, with large groups and abnormals (Titans with erratic behaviours) only contributing a slight increase in difficulty. Dire Subjugation Targets, which are stronger versions of stock Titans, and bosses, make for stiffer opposition but these are few and far between. It never impacts the feeling or scale in combat, but there is a lack of urgency as most enemies can be dispatched in a single attack.

Some technical limitations also occur with regard to Titans. Quite often I would round a corner only to find one of my gigantic foes walking aimlessly into a wall. Further, in many of the large, open maps Titans can very clearly be seen popping into the environment. Moments when these monsters are leaping through houses, or breaking into a sprint are amazing, but this illusion is dampened when the restrictions of the game engine make themselves apparent.

WoF features a cast drawn from the 104th Training Corps and the Scouting Legion. Each character has a different set of abilities that allow for a number of ways to dispatch titans. Armin became one of my favourite characters to use, with his leadership compensating for a lack of strength as he can issue orders to comrades. Other favourites include Mikasa being able to stylishly chain attacks for massive damage, and Levi’s ability to throw broken blades as a weapon.

On top of offline story mode, online cooperative play is also available for up to four players. Multiplayer missions involve the same Titan slaying action, and for the most part it works incredibly well. I did notice some slight latency to my attacks however, and I missed a number of strikes while acclimatising to the difference. This is a great way to enjoy the game with friends while also levelling characters and earning additional resources that are shared with the offline portions of the game.

Attack on Titan: Wings of Freedom is a valiant attempt to capture the feel of AoT that is unfortunately encumbered by some underwhelming elements. The game’s easy difficulty, as well as pop-in and some questionable A.I. ultimately drag the experience down a few notches. These issues aside however, WoF boasts a strong story mode, terrifying Titans, and solid gameplay that shows the utmost respect for what this franchise has so quickly.

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