Attack on Titan: Wings of Freedom (Xbox One) - ReviewDan Carreras , posted on 28 August 2016 / 9,245 Views
As a massive fan of Hajime Isayama’s Attack on Titan manga and anime series, I’ve been keeping my eye on Tecmo Koei and Omega Force's video game adaptation. It’s hard to imagine the series’ trademark 3D manoeuvring gear translating well into a video game, but somehow Omega Force has managed to achieve just this, all while staying true to the source material and creating a highly replayable strategy/action game.
What really is AoT: Wings of Freedom? Put simply it’s a Dynasty Warriors game set in the AoT universe, complete with combat mechanics based around manoeuvres performed in the anime, massive freaky titans, and as much challenge and strategy as you could want out of a battlefield-based game. The campaign is actually just a simple re-telling of the anime and manga, so the real hook is the ability to traverse the world of AoT using the aforementioned 3D manoeuvring gear - an accessory all soldiers in the AoT universe wear in order to grapple and fight around towns, cities, and forest areas when in combat with titans.
You could be forgiven for expecting such a system - one that allows you to rotate around 15 metre tall atrocities before quickly going in for the kill - to be unwieldy, but Omega Force has done a fantastic job of making battlefield traversal feel as natural as possible, which makes combat in AoT: Wings of Freedom consistently fresh and enjoyable.
The X button on your controller is used to grapple and the A button is used to dash as and when required. When you come across a titan that you want to take down you simply press the RB button to concentrate on them and you're then able to select which limb you want to focus on. This must all be done while strafing and avoiding the titan's attacks. Once you've become accustomed to the game's combat it can feel quite limiting, but as the story progresses it becomes increasingly challenging; for example, you'll need to take multiple titans down while avoiding obstacles.
It cannot be understated how powerful you feel rushing across rooftops to your next objective, all while slashing at titan limbs and delivering killing blows to the napes of their necks. Omega Force has done a fantastic job of making the combat evolve so that it continues to feel interesting and challenging each and every time.
Over the course of the campaign you’ll control different characters from the AoT universe, each with their own unique statistics and abilities. Some, like Mikasa for example, are extremely powerful, allowing for multiple attacks on a single titan with one sweep. Characters who are less powerful or skilled in combat take on different roles, such as being able to order units around and target selected enemies. This allows you to make minced meat of enemy titans without even having to set foot near them. These different play styles are hugely welcome and allow the game to throw different scenarios at you that require you to employ varied tactics.
These gameplay mechanics seem to fit perfectly with a Dynasty Warriors styled campaign. The battlefield is constantly alive with new side objectives to encounter, and you'll find yourself challenged to cover as much ground as possible before your main objective needs to be completed. At times multiple side objectives will appear at once, tasking you with taking down several large enemies simultaneously. In these moments you can’t help but feel pressured to push your skills to the limit. To say it’s anything but enthralling would be a disservice to the game.
Between each main mission there's a cooldown period where you can talk to and gain more insight into the thoughts and feelings of the characters that inhabit the world of AoT. These segments expand the depth of the characters more than the manga and anime ever did, but perhaps just as importantly they allow you to take part in two of AoT: Wings of Freedom’s other key gameplay aspects - the upgrading of weapons and completion of side missions.
These side activities help to make AoT: Wings of Freedom one of the most replayable games I’ve played this year. Even after completing the main campaign (which is about 12 hours in length), I was still nowhere near acquiring the strongest weapons in the game, and had never even seen some of the rarer materials that are required to make them. One thing's for certain, players who enjoy the combat beyond the story are going to find plenty to keep them entertained, and plenty to collect.
Graphically, Omega Force has done a fantastic job of sticking to the source material, so much so that the characters seen throughout look as vivid and detailed as they do in the anime. Nobody looks out of place, and the transition to 3D has been done with such care that at times you’d swear this looks better than the anime, which is high praise considering adaptations usually fall well short.
Unfortunately, while the combat and game itself are both hugely enjoyable, there’s not much to be said for AoT: Wings of Freedom’s story. The game literally takes the major plot points from the anime and manga and slots them into the battlefield. In some cases fantastic story moments are almost entirely lost in translation, with Eren’s attack on the colossal titan for example being simplified down to an uninspired cannon battle which is unworthy of the source material.
There’s also a question mark over who this game is aimed at. Fans of the series are definitely going to enjoy experiencing the 3D manoeuvring gear, that’s for certain, but they’re not going to find anything substantially new on a narrative front. There were many times throughout that I couldn’t help but feel despair as story points I’ve seen time and time again were replayed before me, with nothing new added in the process.
Overall, though, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with AoT: Wings of Freedom. Omega Force has really taken great care with the licence, ensuring that everything from the way the characters look and act to the feel of the combat are all in line with what one would expect from the series. Sometimes it feels the game is playing it too safe - I couldn't help but feel bored by the repetitiveness of the story and lack of original narrative elements - but these faults didn't prevent be thoroughly enjoying the game. Omega Force and Koei Tecmo should be fully commended - I didn’t think we would ever get a good Attack on Titan game, let alone a great one.
This review is based on a digital copy of Attack on Titan: Wings Of Freedom for the XOne, provided by the publisher.