Attack on Titan, (along with Psycho Pass) is easily one of the best anime series to come out in the last few years. A brutal tale about the horrors of war and the fragility of humanity’s position at the top of the food chain, it’s a somewhat philosophical and relentlessly grim tale that sees humanity fighting for its survival against the titular Titans, giant humanoid monstrosities which have one goal in life, to consume the human race.
Knowing that successfully defeating the Titans is all but impossible, humanity decides to pull back to its last surviving city (at least we assume it is) and build three large walls around the capital in order to protect its citizens from the slavering horde of horrors that are literally waiting at the gates.
While most are content to cower behind the walls, the military is trained specifically to fight the Titans; donning pneumatically powered grappling rigs known as ‘Three Dimensional Manoeuvre Gear’ and a pair of swords, the members of the three military corps zipline into battle, flying through the air while desperately attempting to take out the titans by sinking their blades into the beasts only weak point – the nape of their neck.
Following the events of the first series, Tecmo Koei’s an Omega Force’s new tie in game A.O.T Wings of Freedom (Attack on Titan in the US) does a marvellous job of bringing the giddy thrill of swinging around the battlefield like a pneumatic powered Spiderman and cutting the titans down to size to your living room.
The controls work really well too; you simply press square to tether onto the environment then hit it again to latch onto the next piece of the environment or boost through the sky to throw yourself over great distances with ease; hurling yourself up into the sky before tethering onto each of the Titan’s limbs, then hacking straight through, then finally sinking your swords into their nape is as balletic as it is satisfying. Your squad mates are actually useful and can be directed to focus on specific enemies and even directed to cut off certain limbs to make taking out the larger Titans that much easier.
The one thing you do need to keep an eye on though is the camera, if left unattended it simply can’t keep up with the action, and will swing straight into buildings, if you’re in a tight alley way or pan into the sky while throwing you upwards, which makes traversing the battlefield quite tricky. Fortunately, you can make adjustments with the right analogue stick, if you’re accustomed to 3D platformers you won’t have any trouble at all, but it is something to keep in mind.
Though much of the game concerns the defence of the Capital (and the opening few hours in particular deal with the battle of Trost, which dominates larges parts of the anime series), environments within in the game are quite varied, taking in the Germanic streets and winding roads of humanity’s last city, as well as taking players to derelict outposts, dense woodlands and the open plains found outside the safety of the Walled City. Maps are quite open ended, with many different types and sizes of Titan to battle; from the regular rank and file which wander around the maps consuming any unfortunate human they stumble across to special “Abnormal” types which are more erratic in their movements as well as feature special abilities such as armoured skin or bodies that appear to be made from molten lava which obscures your vision with bursts of steam.
Like in Omega Force’s other games, Wings of Freedom contains light RPG elements. In between missions you can talk to other characters as well as buy useable items to help you out during combat, buy new gear or improve the performance of your currently equipped Blades and Manoeuvre Gear using materials earned from dismembering Titans. In a nice move your unlocked gear and upgrades are shared among all of the games playable characters.
Your current player character also gains experience at the end of each mission that unlocks new abilities every few levels which make more efficient Titan slayers; such as being able to boost through the sky more effectively or performing multiple strikes, increasing the chance of dismembering or even slaying a Titan (though usually one deft Strike to the nape will kill all but the largest of Titans). Your squad mates also gain experience that makes them better at their jobs, though it didn’t really feel as though it did much in practice, as the AI is pretty effective from the outset. On the whole it’s a simple system but nothing to write home about and lacks the complexity of recent ‘Warriors’ crossovers.
You can also earn additional experience and items by cooperatively playing online with other players in online free play, it’s a nice little extra but no more compelling than playing the main campaign; you just have more chance of your squad mates stealing your kills.
What Wings of Freedom really excels at though is recreating the look of the show. The Titans are just as unnerving with their doughy eyes, rictus grins and unnatural movements. The military buzz around them like flies, delivering lightning strikes which spray around huge geysers of viscera as their limbs are severed, with the Titans desperately swatting, lurching and chomping, attempting to consume their attackers by any means possible.
One thing to note for people who have been following the anime though, is that there is an epilogue which takes the action beyond the shows conclusion; whether this is canon remains to be seen. But if you are enjoying the show and don’t potentially want the start of the next series spoiled it would probably be for the best to not play the extra scenarios unlocked after the end credits roll.
My only issue with the presentation is the lack of an English dub, not only because I watched the series in English so the original Japanese language voice actors feel a little alien (I know I’m a heathen, no need to remind me in the comments), but trying to keep track of the fast paced action on screen makes it difficult to also read the subtitles at the same time, as such I would occasionally miss some piece of vital information regarding the plot or objective.
Though it doesn’t carry the Warriors moniker and you’re not fighting “one million troops” at once, Wings of Freedom is still at its core a Musou game complete with all that entails; big, open maps, shifting objectives and an endless supply of enemies to slay (they’re just massive instead of numerous) as well as light RPG elements. It can also feel a little repetitive at times.
If you don’t like Omega Force’s Warriors games you probably won’t get along with A.O.T Wings of Freedom. However, If you enjoyed recent cross overs like Hyrule Warriors or One Piece: Pirate Warriors, or are a fan of Attack on Titan, you’re bound to have a lot of fun with A.O.T: Wings of Freedom.