Break the Walls Down – Attack on Titan Review
How does Koei Tecmo do adapting the hit Manga/Anime series into an action game? Find out in our Attack on Titan Review
Full of break-neck action, in many senses of that definition, Attack on Titan beautifully adapts the manga/anime series into the video game medium. It is an action/hack and slash game available on PS3, PS4, PS Vita, Xbox One, and Windows. It is natively single player, but you can have a team of 4 via online multiplayer in certain modes. Picture fighting creatures that can swallow you who, but often choose not to in order to feel you die between their teeth. These creatures, called Titans, constantly kill your comrades and destroy what’s left of human civilization, all while maintaining an eerily joyful grin. It is up to you, and really only you because all of the NPC’s are pretty useless, to take down as many Titans as possible. So let’s breakdown this nightmare apocalypse and see how it measures up.
The story is an adaptation of the anime/manga, more so of the anime. It also includes the OVA episodes of Levi and Hange’s adventure to capture Titans alive for testing. If you are a fan of the series, you will like the story, but may be a bit annoyed in the translation. This is more of the mechanics of the game, but it affects the story so I’m going to talk about it here. I should also note that my day job is localizing so I am far more picky than most on this subject. The game is obviously translated, as made obvious by multiple instances of “…!” “?…” and “dammit”. They also use terms like “subjugate” to refer to killing Titans, which is incorrect since you are straight up murdering those beasts. I took a slew of screenshots to emphasize my point, but I don’t want to call too much attention to something I’m sure most people will overlook.
Overall the story is the same as the anime/manga series but has a much softer punch. The big dramatic moments don’t land as hard because it is unable to be as fleshed out and some scenes are just toned down a bit. For example, when Eren’s Titan head gets kicked off then you see the head land. In the game, the head doesn’t land,and I feel it takes away from the power of the scene. But basing it off the general enjoyment and adaptation, I give it a solid 7. I would have given it an 8, but the localization did get to me.
The gameplay is a masterpiece of design. The premise is, you have this machine (the ODM) that latches on to things and flings you across. It’s like Spider-Man, but the webs come from a machine around your waist and instead of swinging it’s moving you around like Batmans’ grappling gun. Two different systems, that have both been done very well in their own respective rights, now combined into one and ramped up a few notches in terms of speed. The game nails it. It’s not perfect, but it is intuitive and almost always functions as you intend. Mastering the ability to get around is 90% of the game.
Combat is 7%. Other than being Eren as a Titan, your attacks are worthless unless you build momentum by zipping around. However, the combat is so entwined with the movement that it becomes one great engine of tearing down giants. You’re really pressing one button to move, one button to attack, and using the thumbstick to direct yourself. It is simple, but as the game ramps up it is anything but. When you’re trying to take on 6 titans at once, each of a different size and stance, it is a complex dance of zip and slice that is insanely gratifying to accomplish. The only time it ever feels repetitive is when you’re facing “boss” monsters who require you to attack the same areas multiple times. Also, the weapon level up system is a tad bit annoying, as it forces players to replay earlier missions to get the necessary equipment. Aside from a few minor hindrances, the gameplay is a lot of fun and engaging. Gameplay gets a 9/10
The graphics are pretty much a 3D CGI version of the show. Many of the cutscenes are basically frame for frame adapations of scenes from the anime. It’s great seeing most of the iconic moments of the show fully rendered in 3D, before and after mowing down Titans. Although it’s kind of weird winning the fight, but cutting to a scene and it shows you losing. The movement system is definitely a masterpiece and is in the realm of the web swinging introduced in Spider-Man 2 for Gamecube. Just like web swinging in that game, using the ODM to get around is fun, but there are some bugs to it. For example, I’m zipping across town on rooftops then all of sudden the ODM drops you between buildings instead of continuing over them. I can forgive it because it’s almost perfect aside from it but it better not be in the sequel.
The difference in the characters, though subtle, really made the game for me. There was a huge difference playing as Levi and Eren, or Mikasa and Armin. Levi and Mikasa were pretty similar characters, both very capable of taking down hordes of titans on their own in less attempts thanks to their chain attacks. Eren, essentially half the character of Levi and Mikasa until he gains the ability to transform on command. Armin is the best character to play as in my opinion. He has the ability to individually command members in his squad to attack. Thus opening realms of possibility of strategy. Eren has the opposite ability, and thus your squad is even less affective than they would normally be.
Boss battles are also very repetitive, and aside from the Epilogue, pretty much require repetition and no new strategy. It’s mainly disappointing because the rest of the levels are usually varied enough to keep it fresh and interesting. Boss levels just seem to hextuple the hit points to each area and act like it’s supposed to be a challenge of gameplay instead of patience. Aside from the repetitive boss battles, forced repetition equipment upgrades, slightly sub-par localization, the game mechanics are very impressive. Mechanics get an 8/10.
Attack on Titan is a fun, high energy, addicting game. It puts players in a unique situation and gives them accompanying abilities to deal with it. You are given a wide range of characters to choose from, a surprisingly robust amount of levels to master, and some intricate strategies to master in order to beat the game. It is a very well adapted game that embodies the show and allows you to control the characters in a way that not only makes sense to the franchise but engulfs the user into a thrilling experience. Even with the minor quirks, the game will have players absorbed for hours. There is a strong, gratifying feeling taking down a horde of titans that only gets more gratifying as the levels get harder. With that being said, I give Attack on Titan 8/10.