GAME REVIEW | Omnidirectional Fun in 'Attack on Titan'
Turning any kind of licensed series into a video game always seems like a veritable minefield of expectations from both fans and license holders. Landing that perfect balance isn't impossible, but it's usually the exception and not the rule. Since it first hit my radar, Attack on Titan has always seemed like it would be a perfect fit for the translation into a video game. The Omnidirectional Gear of the the show looked like a ton of fun to blast around a world and slice the napes of some giant's necks. There have been some unsuccessful attempts prior to Koei Tecmo's Attack on Titan game, but finally the series has been done justice and there is a fun game set in the universe of the acclaimed anime series.
Fun is one of those things that I feel, as games have begun to become more and more diverse, can get left behind in favor of a unique story or gameplay concept. This isn't always a bad thing, as some of those concepts are worth exploring, but it's always refreshing whenever a you get your hands on one that just ends up being pure fun. The gameplay loop in Attack on Titan is basically this: distilled fun. Using the Omnidirectional Gear to travel around the various maps in Attack on Titan feels like some combination of some of the better Spiderman games and the hack-and-slash action of the Dynasty Warrior series. Blasting through each area and slicing up titans is just darned fun and it continued to be fun for significantly longer than I would have expected.
Lack of diversity is usually one of the factors that quickly kills any kind of replayability for a game. Let's get this straight: there is a lot of repetition and not a ton of diversity in Attack on Titan. Many of the maps you'll be fighting titans on look fairly similar to each other. Honestly, this isn't really a problem, because it's true to the source material. They manage to hit all of the important areas and diversify as much as possible, but for the most part you're either in a city, field or forest in the game. The main aspects of the gameplay stay largely the same throughout the campaign as well, though the also do their best there through various characters and their special abilities. That being said, the repetition is noticeable and if you don't enjoy the main gameplay, it doesn't diverge from that very much.
Funnily enough, this game might just be perfect for someone completely new to the Attack on Titan series as the main campaign basically summarizes the first season of the anime. Playing as different characters throughout the Attack Mode, which is the main story mode, it manages to shake things up a decent amount. The main character of the series, Eren Jaeger, is your all-around average character with the ability to, spoiler alert, transform into a titan. Armin Arlert, on the other hand, is not the strongest when it comes to hacking apart these naked giants. His strength comes from a tactical point and they've managed to work this into the game by giving him a strength in commanding other team members. There are other characters that are just strong all-around, like Mikasa and Levi, as well and they can be just as fun to play.
Side missions are kind of a mixed bag in each stage and tend to be one of the weaker parts of the game. Particularly, escort missions never felt very good. Often, you'll have a tiny NPC that needs to make a reasonably long journey and walks slower than a Pokémon GO player in a Dratini nest. It breaks up the main thing in the game that's fun, using your Omnidirectional Gear, and has you walking slowly on the ground. Thankfully, most of the other missions involve just killing more titans, but I always rolled my eyes anytime it asked me to guide someone along.
If you have a good time playing the solo version of Attack on Titan, let me present to you: Expedition Mode. This is the multiplayer mode for the game and I'm glad to say that slashing those napes is even more fun with your buddies. Coordinating the battlefield and each taking care of a particular part of the mission is a ton of fun and feels even better than doing it alone. The one flaw with the Expedition Mode was that, when paired with random people, I found that my teammates were way too powerful for some of the missions we were taking on. I'm talking about not even making it to the final tough encounter, because one of my teammates killed the final titan in one hit. It's not a deal-breaker, but it would be nice to be able to have a comparable skill level with the rest of your team.
Before I get to those pros and cons, let's go back to Eren for a second. As I mentioned before, he has the ability to transform into a titan. This is integrated into his character in the game, and is surprisingly fun in short bursts. When playing as titan Eren, you are basically wasting the regular titans. Even the larger titans that might give you some trouble get easily taken down, so it's a very effective ultimate move that makes you feel very powerful. The battles with the female titan, who is much more formidable, are a bit trickier, but still make you feel like a badass since taking her down in human form is super difficult. They don't overuse this feature, which is nice because I suspect it would get old fast in larger doses.
- Titan slaying is fun and done well
- Story mode is decent summary of Attack on Titan's first season
- Multiplayer Expedition Mode is even more fun with friends
- Transforming into a titan and wrecking all the enemies is awesome
- Gameplay is fun, but very repetitive
- Variety in the stages is lacking
- Better matching for multiplayer would be ideal
- Escort side missions are not fun
On the surface, Attack on Titan seems like a fairly shallow experience. Funnily enough, this is not too far from the truth, but what is here is fun enough to carry itself for a surprisingly long amount of time. The game certainly has some flaws in a lack of variety, repetition of game mechanics and a few lousy side mission types. Thankfully, the base game scratched just the right itch I was looking for in an Attack on Titan game and I had a decent amount of fun playing it. If you're a fan of the series, or are looking at getting into it for the first time, Attack on Titan is definitely worth your time. You can pick it up today on PC, PS4, Xbox One, PS3 and PS Vita.
PS4 Review copy provided by Brian Lee of ONE PR Studio.