Go big or go home!
I have loved Attack on Titan ever since I saw the first season of the anime TV show on Netflix. This action-packed series started out as a manga, then became so popular that it spawned an animé TV show, two live-action movies, and more than one video game. While past games have been poorly received, developers Omega Force really nailed it with their newest game, aptly titled Attack on Titan. Not only is it a faithful recreation of the series, but it also looks just like the animé and it's a helluva lot of fun to play!
Fans of the series will be thrilled to discover that the game's story is based on the animé and not the mediocre live-action movies that are full of unnecessary changes. Sometime in the future, humanity has been nearly wiped out by mysterious gigantic beings known as Titans. These humongous humanoids aren't very smart, but they love to munch on human flesh. As a result, the remaining survivors have built gigantic walls around a huge area and live in seclusion from the Titans and the outside world.
Over one hundred years after the walls were built, a Colossus Titan much larger than any Titan ever seen breaks through the outside wall. Almost immediately, countless Titans of all shapes and sizes surge through the hole into the city and start to devour every human in sight. Young Eren Yeager sees his mother devoured by a Titan, so he pledges to eradicate every towering behemoth in existence. He joins the local branch of the military along with his adopted sister, Mikasa, and the two embark on a mission to slay a seemingly endless horde of Titans while also uncovering several unpleasant truths.
Humans are severely outmatched by even the smallest Titan, so the key to defeating them lies in specialized military equipment called Omni-directional Mobility Gear. ODM consists of two wires that shoot out like grappling hooks and embed themselves into environmental objects like trees, rocks, and buildings. This quickly propels soldiers through the air, and they can keep moving like this similar to the way Spider-Man swings through the streets of New York. It's also possible to change direction in mid-air to adapt to both the environment and unpredictable events.
When players get near a Titan, they change to attack mode and shoot their grappling hooks into the limbs or neck of the Titan. Then players reel themselves towards it, and when they get close enough, they can attack the Titan using dual swords that are also part of ODM. Players are free to attack and sever their limbs, but the only way to kill a Titan is to slice through the nape of its neck. However, this requires approaching the Titan from behind because zipping towards it head-on and attacking it will make players bounce off the head.
“So why on Earth would I attack the limbs,” you may ask? Several reasons. For starters, thinner Titans try to face players all the time, so slicing off a leg will make them fall to their knees. This distracts them and makes it easier to attack from behind. In addition, slicing off arms stops them from grabbing the player or his/her teammates and eating them. Lastly, it's possible to obtain crafting materials from the limbs of some Titans, and this is used to craft and/or upgrade weapons and gear.
I want to commend the developers for making the Titans' reactions to their severed limbs so realistic. It's really cool to see the animations of Titans falling to their knees, trying to crawl with no legs, lumbering around with two legs but no arms. They also make the ground shake when they fall, and any building that gets in the way will topple to the ground. Some Titans are known as abnormals due to their odd behavior, which includes ignoring soldiers, fixating on a certain soldier, crawling on all fours, and/or bellyflopping into buildings (which is hilarious).
Players take on the role of Eren, Mikasa, Armin, and Levi in the campaign, and they can play as several other characters in the free missions. I like how each character has distinct advantages that separate them from the others because it adds incentive to experiment with them all. For instance, Mikasa is a very strong warrior and can initiate powerful combo attacks on one or multiple targets. Armin, on the other hand, is a master strategist. He's rather weak as a fighter, but he can literally order teammates to attack targets while he gathers resources, saves fellow soldiers, and attacks Titans himself.
Even though the game starts off kind of slow, it picks up the pace in the second act when players obtain better gear and begin going on expeditions. Sixty optional expeditions are available that provide players with crafting materials and experience to improve their characters. Sadly, these expeditions quickly become monotonous because players have to slay nearly every Titan on the map to get the best rewards, and this can take upwards of twenty minutes. However, these missions can be quite fun when played with three other people in online multiplayer mode. It cuts the completion time down immensely, and the rewards and XP are transferred to single-player progress.
I'll freely admit that I wasn't very skilled with ODM at the beginning, as I frequently slammed into buildings and overshot my targets. But after a while, I felt like a complete badass because I could nimbly kill multiple Titans without touching the ground. One of my favorite moves is targeting a Titan's leg from afar, zipping in and severing it, then quickly zipping up and slicing the neck for a flawless kill. I also like to challenge myself by killing as many Titans as possible without touching the ground. So far my record is five.
Some people may find the constant Titan-slaying to be repetitive, but I never grew weary of it. What I do find irritating, however, is the constant framerate slowdown that occurs whenever I fight multiple Titans in close proximity. Also, as mentioned before, the Expedition missions would benefit from the same kind of variety found in the story missions. Lastly, the gameplay isn't very challenging on “normal” difficulty, so I suggest changing it to “hard” after players get the hang of the controls.
With Attack on Titan, Omega Force has managed to craft a wonderfully exhilarating game full of action and suspense that closely follows the source material. It's leaps and bounds above their Dynasty Warriors franchise. I feel very empowered whenever I play the game, and undertaking missions in online co-op takes it to a whole new level. Spoiler alert: Yes, you do get to play as a Titan!