Attack on Titan: Wings of Freedom Review

By Darryl Kaye on September 14, 2016

As an entertainment property, Attack on Titan has grown into something of a behemoth in a relative short space of time. It's therefore unsurprising that in addition to a hit anime series, there are also books, a live action movie and of course, video games. However, while the other mediums have flourished with the source material, the games developed so far have struggle to replicate the same feel. That is, until Omega Force managed to get their hands on it.

From the moment you start Campaign Mode, the experience feels seamless. Following the story proposed in the manga/anime, the tutorial is subtly integrated into the training that our protagonists go through before their first mission. Here you will learn how to use the Omni-Directional Mobility Gear, as implemented by Omega Force.

Given the rather unorthodox nature of this piece of equipment, and also the way in which enemies must be defeated, there isn't really another system out there on the market that's even similar in the remotest form. If you aren't familiar, it's somewhat difficult to explain, but at its core, when using the gear you fire out grappling hooks. These are used to propel your character in the intended direction for quick travel around the map. When you encounter a target, these then connect to the appropriate part of their body, ready for you to attack. However, attacks must be performed in a specific way to ensure they are successful.

I'll admit, I was curious as to how Omega Force would fare with this. If the implementation was even somewhat off, it would start to ruin the illusion. And following on from the tutorial, I was a little concerned. After what was in reality a brief tutorial session, taking down Titans once the actual began wasn't difficult, it just felt something clunky, unintuitive and a bit cumbersome.

As I progressed into the game, what I learnt was that this was more a fault with me than the system. Perhaps this was intentional though, as it's exactly how the characters would be feeling at this stage? By the time you reach the later stages of the game and enjoy the luxuries of upgraded characters, it's difficult to envision how the ODM gear could have been implemented any better.

What's also well implemented is the differences between characters. Someone like Levi or Mikasa can slice through Titans like butter by the time he's at max level, while someone like Armin struggles. However, he can compensate for this by calling on allies in a more direct way. Eren on the other hand has special abilities and it makes for a nice mix between the various cast members.

The chance of environments also doesn't hinder the gameplay. In open-plan areas, you will need to use horses to traverse around quicker until you have upgraded gear, but there is nothing intentional that halts progress or makes the action feel bitty. Well, aside from those annoying moments where you get disconnected and then try to use the OMD gear, but are too close to an object. This leads to something of an annoyance, but it's a minor issue even if it does ruin the flow somewhat.

Story missions themselves are of a decent length and in terms of sheer depth, there is plenty to keep you occupied for hours. However, there are some concerns when it comes to padding. Once you get a decent way through the main story, there is a requirement to complete numerous side-quests before you are allowed to progress further. This in itself isn't a bad system; it makes sense for the story they present. What makes it frustrating is the sheer volume of side quests that need to be completed. It's not just a case of doing one or two, it's a case of doing up to ten. Then, when you progress and finish the next story mission, you are greeted with the prospect of another ten. It's just unnecessary and becomes a gruelling slog to finish off the epilogue.

It's unclear why this felt necessary to include, especially as it only serves to dilute the experience. The story missions feel fresh and unique, whereas the side quests start to feel monotonous. You will receive very similar objectives, in very similar locations against the same foes. The uniqueness of the experience gets lost. And even before this slog begins, you would still be looking at a 20+ hour experience.

Visuals also suffer somewhat on the PS Vita, with draw distance in particular creating issues. In dense environments, Titans, despite looking quite close on the radar, won't come into view until you are rather close. This can make locking onto them more difficult than it needs to be, but comes as an unfortunate limitation of the handheld system versus the home console.

Final Thoughts

Due to the sheer creativity behind the original mechanics presented within the Attack on Titan scenario, Omega Force should receive some serious commendation for what they've managed to achieve with this game. This is unlike any game they have ever produced before and it all plays in the exact way you would expect. Yes, there are some issues when it comes to major padding of content, but from a technical perspective, this game absolutely nails the Omni-Directional Mobility Gear. Not everything is as crisp as perhaps it should be, but this is a game that's easy to recommend whether you're a fan of the anime or not.

OMD Gear Implementation.
Voice acting.
Depth of story campaign.
Sooo much padding.
When you lose momentum, the game basically stops.
Issues with draw distance.
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