As the Final Season of the Attack On Titan anime is somehow still going on (i’m not even talking about the many parts it has been split into), might as well revisit the videogames good ol’ Omega Force did, under the technically distinct (the best kind of distinct) title of “AOT” (yep, for legal reasons they couldn’t localize it as “Attack On Titan”, same issue as the My Hero Academia games, i think), starting with the first one, AOT: Wings Of Freedom, and then the direct sequel, AOT 2, in its complete form that also include the Final Battle expansion.
I would have loved to also cover the 3DS game, Shingeki No Kyoujin: Humanity In Chains, which is actually the first videogame based on Attack On Titan, but the localized english release has been pulled from the 3DS eShop years ago, i didn’t buy it before, so i’ll have to skip it as to get around these issues will take too much effort and – mostly – too much time, which is scarce at the moment.
I also want to cover AOT 2 in it’s complete form, will do that when they will release the second part of the part 3 of season 4 (if i got it right) somewhere in late 2023.
As these anime-based games by Omega Force tended to do at the time (the Arslan Musou, for example), Wings Of Freedom covers the first season of the anime/manga series (and a little teensy of the second, technically), introducing the basic gist of the plot, the main characters and the motivations that drive the people to gather and prepare fighting these misterious humanoid giants that keep on destroy the walls that keep humans safe from being eaten by them.
It’s not a overly-detailed recollection of the source material, but it’s a pretty good one, you’ll be able to enjoy it even if you didn’t see the anime or red the manga, and it doesn’t cheap out by reusing some clips from the related shows or movies (like Arslan Musou using clips from the anime and Berserk Musou ripping lots of footage from the Golden Arc Trilogy of movie), but instead doing them with in-game engine and models, though there’s no English audio option, still going for the cheaper – even if oddly more welcomed – option of leaving the original Japanese dub.
Presentation it’s pretty good, and its looks quite good on the technical side, the cel shading it’s good, even the backgrounds are fairly detailed, but i guess it won’t be an Omega Force game if there weren’t some issues of pop-up of distant enemies or structure, and the terrain spazzing a bit out when riding on horseback. The lack of thousands of enemies on screen at once does help, though.
Aside from the expected similarities with the developer marquee franchise, AOT Wings Of Freedom isn’t a musou game. It wouldn’t really make sense for it to be, due to the anime license it uses, but i will specify it to make it clear: it’s NOT a musou/Warriors spin-off.
It’s the other kind of game that Omega Force does nowadays, as in, a hunting game, not my usual wheelhouse, so i can’t really say how it fares compared to the Toukiden games, but the expected elements are all there: monster to hunt/prey on, weapon efficiency that degrades with use and limited use tools, the need to study the attack, plan what body parts need to be targeted first, etc.
It’s all there but made more dynamic as the game incorporates the free-flowing 3D manouver system from the series, meaning your character can move around the locations using their gear and hooks to swing around in a very Spiderman-like fashion, and like in the anime/manga you have to use this system to move around at high speed in order to make your blade more efficient in cutting down the Titans’ regenerating limbs, and finally killing them by slicing the nape of their necks.
You’ll also have to keep in consideration the surroundings, because you’ll need space to manouver around the Titans, and the anchor/hook lock is susceptible to surroundings, so walls, buildings and other Titans can get in the way of wire/hook, which is especially true in locations full of small forts and keeps near to each other, and means you can’t use the gear in plains where there’s nothing to latch into for swinging about, but thankfully to remedy that (and to give you some straightforward option for more speedy traversal) you’re given horses to summon and ride on, i mean, it fits with the settings of the series and it’s an Omega Force game, after all.
You can enlist to your group other corps members on the field, issue them simple commands (attack the locked on Titan body part, assist in distraction/diversion, etc.), plus by killing titans and completing objectives you fill up the special bar, that lets you enter a powered up state where all your teammates attack at once, with a small recovery of the gas reserve and the blades’ durability.
As in any hunting game, the selection of gear it’s essential, so it’s best to fiddle with various combinations of blades, canisters and ODM gears in order to find out what suits your playstile best, opting for gear that compensates – for example – a powerful but easy to break blade, or a speedy but short-reaching set of ODM gear, with the option of crafting new gear from scratch, upgrading existing pieces of equipment or fuse them together.
You know, the works and all.
It’s also worth considering which character to use with specific loadouts, as the 10 playable characters do feel quite distinct (reflecting their stats, which isn’t always a given) and appropriate, so Armin is kinda weak but has a bigger inventory and can issue direct orders to the other squad members (regardless of their trust/relationship rank), Eren doesn’t suffer from reduced mobility when near death, Hange gets extra items from severing Titan body parts that net materials, etc.
Also, as the characters level up, they unlock specific abilities, and by playing you slowly also level up the barracks (which operate as a hub where to access missions, talk to characters, use facilities), giving you new blueprints, new facilities, and even to new items like new types of bombs, etc.
Wings Of Freedom is definitely a loyal adaptation of the source material, maybe a bit too loyal as it suffers from a small pool of enemies, with many generic Titans that do behave and look like the ones in the manga/anime, yes, but since it’s a videogame this leads to not much variety of enemies, as besides the basic naked Titans you’ll fight ones that can’t be “nape-snapped” right away but require you to cut down limbs they use as defense, alongside the distinct unique Titans as bosses.
Gameplay it’s fun, but you just wish there was more variety to the enemies, as in typical Omega Force fashion, it’s satisfying but it can (and will) get repetitive, and this issue extends to the missions themselves, expecially in terms of secondary objectives that are often copy pasted.
This also funnels down to some of the map design and also feels very Dynasty Warriors, as in, you often have or unlock explosive traps, spikes and cannons around the map, but aside from the cannons, it’s easy to forget they even are here, as explosive traps and spikes are passive tools, no reason to actively try and lure the foes there as you can simply directly attack the enemies, you’re gonna need to get closer to them anyway (unless you have access to cannons, of course).
Still, after getting the hang of it, you’ll become a little too efficient at dismembering and then finishing the Titans, the base ones will rarely ever cause you problems, so you’ll feel challenged only by the abnormaland boss type one. There is a hidden Titan per mission to find, but it’s often just a type of foe you fought before that simply gives out really rare crafting materials.
In terms of content, as i said before, the game’s finale pretty much is the same one as the first season of the anime, BUT there are some story missions that bring the narrative to touch upon some events of the second season…after you engage in aptly gigantic amounts of grinding.
I hate when games do this craft of forcing you through the “optional” side content, as you’ll need a good amount of “researching” the various area, completing missions, so you can unlock new areas, new research missions, and the few post-game story missions.
It’s a cheap shot to extend the length of the campaign (which requires 10 hours to see the normal ending), as it pretty much double the time needed to clean everything up, but once you see the true ending, you unlock True Attack Mode, which is a new game plus with the difficulty cranked up teo notches, as it doesn’t simply give the Titans more health and offensive power, but even the base ones become a lot more intelligent and will give you “the buziness” even from the beginning.
Aside from the campaign (which also has collectables in the shape of Titans statues to buy/craft) there’s Expedition Mode, the Free Mode equivalent, that can be played solo or online with up to 4 players, and puts you in a different hub world where to access the secondary missions – called Survey Missions – of the campaign (which shares with Story mode), while also having some exclusives to this mode and letting you play the DLC missions bought.
You can also take on Expedition Missions, as in you choose an area and then tackle 3 battles/missions in a row there, for more loot and a bigger shot at getting rare materials, and like the Survey Missions, they can be played on the standard or hard difficulty setting alongside some randoms, i played this some years ago and surprisingly there was someone still around, but by now i expect the servers to be completely empty.
Attack On Titan: Wings Of Freedom it’s a good game that perfectly captures the spirit of the popular (and somewhat still going, due to the ridiculous release schedule of the anime incarnation) series, letting you tear apart hideous humanoid giants as you zip around the battlefield like medieval steampunk Spider Man soldiers using a slightly laborious but also very satisfying combat system that really makes you feel like you’re playing as a cadet from the series, and not just a random hunting game that happens to carry the license of this anime series.
Presentation it’s excellent, production values are quite good (all things considered, even if it’s an Omega Force joint), and it is, without a doubt, very loyal to the source material.
To a fault, as despite Omega Force creating a solid, satisfying hunting game based on the AOT IP, the variety of foes/monsters reflects the one in the show (or at least the first season worth of content that this game covers with his story mode), so very little, which isn’t ideal for a videogame, as is the also not much varied terms of objectives, demostrating a certain repetitive factor that seems kinda inescapable for Omega Force developed titles, and there’s also the fact the games becomes relatively easy once you’ve got the proper hang of the combat system.
It wouldn’t have hurt if the game did something “off-canon” for the betterment of the experience, but it’s still a fun experience, offering quite the replayablity, with online multiplayer upt to 4 cadets, alongside a very difficult type of new game to challenge your skills proper once you’re done with the 10 hours campaign… and after spend almost twice as that in grinding filler secondary mission to access the post-game story missions required to see the true ending.
It’s good, even more considering it’s a “first tentative” kind of release from Omega Force, as they usually iterate and/or remake-expand their games (and AOT 2 covers the first 2 seasons, though in a slightly different manner), but as it now can be found used for little cash, it’s affordable and on its own it’s an already solid experience, maybe a bit bony (but not even that much), flawed and on the repetive side, but still quite fun, definitely worth playing for fans of the series.
Not that there are many choices in terms of AOT videogames to go around, but still…