‘Attack on Titan’ Video Game Review (PlayStation 4)
The ultra-popular Attack on Titan anime series has finally made its way to the video game world, with the minds behind the Dynasty Warriors franchise --- Omega Force and Koei Tecmo --- charged with the transition. I was hesitant to truly get excited for this new game, as I didn’t think Attack on Titan fit well into Omega Force style of game, but I’m happy to say that playing the game has proven me wrong... for the most part.
Attack on Titan is a story of humanity driven nearly to extinction by massive and super-creepy humanoid creatures called Titans. After the Titans first emerge and begin to feed on the human race, the survivors build three massive walls, one within the other, to repel the beasts and try to rebuild. Players follow Eren Jaeger and his band of new Training Corps recruits for the Military Police Brigade as they train to fight these big uglies and keep the people safe from harm.
The only way to kill a Titan is to slice the lone weak spot on back of its neck, and to do so the cadets in the Training Corps use an ingenious system of gas-powered grapple hooks to swing around the city, targeting and slicing Titans at will. This kit is the biggest departure from the normal Warriors formula Attack on Titan has to offer, and I couldn’t get enough of it. Swinging around the city like Spider-Man, finding a Titan, latching onto it with my hooks, and killing it with one slice was supremely satisfying. The “omni-directional movement” these kits allow is implemented perfectly, with a simple system of pressing Square to launch hooks, R1 to target a Titan, and Triangle to attack when close enough.
Taking down a Titan can be a quick venture or a lengthy one, as the game gives you the option of going right for the neck, or targeting each of its limbs to disable it before going in for the killing blow. Attacking limbs offers worthwhile benefits, as that strategy can score you extra materials for post-battle crafting of new weapons. These materials can then either be sold to the requisitions cadet in between missions or used to craft faster gear, more powerful blades, and better armor for taking on the massive monsters.
When I was able to get five quick targets and five clean slashes in, fully disabling a Titan was incredibly fun, but unfortunately controlling my Cadet's "omni-directional movement" wasn't always the smoothest venture. Swinging around and fighting these giants does feel comfortable and natural most of the time, and Omega Force's approach to what must have been an intimidating venture is admirable, but It's not a perfect system. Every so often I found myself missing a grapple for no reason or not getting the major damage I had before just because the Titan I was targeting moved slightly.
The in-game camera might be the biggest obstacle in movement, constantly shifting on its own, and forcing me to re-adjust my approach on the fly. Furthermore the camera doesn’t always point towards the correct spot during the cinematic slicing scenes, focusing on a big glob of Titan skin instead of the characters slicing a hole in its neck. I didn't want to see a Titan's left butt cheek, I wanted to see my Cadet destroy it in epic fashion. The camera wasn't always willing to cooperate.
Attack on Titan does a remarkable job of getting players unfamiliar with the anime up to speed in the story, with slides on loading screens explaining certain important aspects of the series and the cutscenes looking like they were borne straight from the anime itself. I never did watch all of the series, knowing only a lot of fringe information about the weapon kits or massive monsters, but now I feel much more knowledgeable, which means the game could appeal to non-AoT fans easily.
Sometimes Attack on Titan took me away from the Cadets and placed me in charge of a Titan itself, and that’s where the game fell back to the familiar Warriors formula. There are a lot of mashing attacks in this mode, sometimes mixing up the attacks with a throw and the occasional Rage Attack. Even with those slight differences, being a Titan didn’t really have any perks outside of being able to punch other Titans. I found myself getting bored despite controlling a massive beast.
That leads to my biggest issue with Attack on Titan, and it's the same problem I've been having with Omega Force games forever: monotony. While omni-directional movement and Titans kept things interesting for longer than other Warriors-style games, after a while I still found myself getting into a pattern: swing toward a target on my map, kill the Titans, go to the next target, kill those Titans, refill my supplies when needed, kill more Titans, mission complete and on to the next one. Granted these patterns involve a lot more action than just pressing the same button repeatedly and that makes the grind less noticeable, but it's still there and becomes very apparently after long play sessions. It's not an experience killer, but repetition can certainly weighed on my motivation to kill Titan after Titan before long.
Attack on Titan marks a substantial shift in Omega Force's Warriors formula, implementing an all-new style of movement and giant enemy characters. Swinging through the world, targeting enemies, and taking them down with one big slice feels and looks great. Importantly, it also does the source material justice. The camera angles don't always want to cooperate, and after a while the game tends to shift toward boring repetition, but the story was enough to keep me engaged and moving on when I want to take a break. Attack on Titan is a great introduction for the anime franchise into the world of console gaming, and while it's not perfect, it's a game that can be enjoyed even by those who haven't watched a second of the show.
This review was completed via a download code for Attack on Titan provided by the publisher for PlayStation 4.