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Attack on Titan: Wings of Freedom

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox One
Genre: Action
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Developer: Omega Force
Release Date: Aug. 30, 2016 (US), Aug. 26, 2016 (EU)


PSV/PS4/PS3/XOne/PC Preview - 'Attack on Titan: Wings of Freedom'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on June 16, 2016 @ 12:30 a.m. PDT

Attack on Titan: Wings of Freedom is an action title, based on the anime series, letting you play part in humanity’s last stand against these overwhelmingly powerful beings, the Titans.

Pre-order Attack on Titan

What if the monsters in a zombie movie were giants?

That's the premise behind the "Attack on Titan" anime. The titular titans are horrifying abominations that have conquered the world. The only survivors live in a walled city in what used to be Europe. The series follows a boy named Eren Jaeger, who saw his mother devoured alive when the titans breached the wall. He dedicates his life to seeking revenge by joining the Survey Corps, a near-suicidal organization of soldiers who travel outside the wall to destroy Titans. Nothing is as simple as it seems, and like any good zombie film, the threat to humanity is as much from the people as the monsters. Attack on Titan focuses largely on the titan combat and represents an interesting attempt at conveying the franchise's trademark high-mobility combat in video game form.

The first of the two modes we saw was the On-Foot gameplay, though that isn't very accurate. Attack on Titan has gas-powered, waist-mounted grappling hooks that can be used to perform fast-paced omnidirectional attacks on the titans. This is represented by a Spider-Man-like ability to move around the environment. As long as there is anything nearby, you can latch onto it, propel yourself forward and chain together swings for faster mobility. It's surprisingly easy to do, since the game has a loose auto-guiding function that lets you focus on movement. You can also spend gas to propel yourself forward more quickly. It feels a little awkward at first, but after a few minutes of practice, it was easy to swing across the demo stage in seconds.

When you approach a titan, you can switch to combat mode, which lets you lock on to various parts of a titan's body. Every titan shares a single weak point: the nape of their neck. They can't be killed in any way besides attacking that weak point, but it's not easy to kill it that way. You need to strike deep enough to cut it without the titan grabbing your character. When you go into combat mode, your grappling hooks latch on to a titan's body parts. The speed and direction you attack from determines how much damage you do. In the demo, most titans could be killed by a single attack to the neck, but certain Abnormal Titans require multiple blows to take down.

So why attack anything but the neck? Titans drop materials that can be used to upgrade your characters, and destroying enemy body parts can yield more material drops. Titans suffer realistic damage, so if you attack an arm, you can destroy it, leaving them more vulnerable to easier neck strikes. However, you have to balance this with the fact that you have limited resources. Titan skin is hard, so your swords will become dull and need to be replaced, and your grappling hooks depend on gas to run. You can acquire more of both by completing side-quests, but nobody wants to use a dull, broken sword to fight a 40-meter-tall behemoth.

You have to be careful about titans because they can be brutally powerful. If a titan grabs you, you'll need to mash buttons to escape from its grip. Take too much damage, and you won't escape. This also applies to allies on the battlefield, and if a titan grabs a character, you'll have only moments to free them before they're destroyed. Most of the main cast of Attack on Titan is playable, with different characters having different moves. Mikasa Ackerman has a chain attack ability that allows her to instantly follow a successful attack with another attack without needing to swing back around, so it's easier to instantly kill weaker titans.

We saw a little bit of a second gameplay mode. The protagonist of the series, Eren, has a dark secret. He can transform into a powerful titan known as the Rage Titan. In this form, he's basically a combination of The Hulk and a pro wrestler. The combat changes from the fast-paced maneuverable combat to brutal hand-to-hand combat. No individual titan can stand against him. You have a regular punch, a throw, and the ability to jump and stomp enemies. Fight enough, and you power up the ability to perform a Rage Attack that can clear multiple titans at once. Unfortunately, our demo was of Eren's first transformation into the Rage Titan, so it's difficult to tell what deeper complexity might lie beneath.

Attack on Titan is sure to please fans of the show. The high-maneuverability swinging combat that is such an iconic part of the franchise is represented, and there's plenty of fan service for fans of the anime and manga. With multiple playable characters and tons of massive titans to take down, it's everything an "Attack on Titan" fan could hope for. Attack on Titan is due out this August.

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