In truth I am a bit surprised at how long it took the world to get a true Attack on Titan game. Given the popularity of the manga, as of the end of 2015 selling 52.5 million copies globally (well, 50 million copies in Japan, 2.5 million copies globally), and the almost-feverish craze that the uber-popular anime, commonly referred to in its Japanese name, Shingeki no Kyojin, seems to have taken the shonen category by storm. Since Attack on Titan's initial print-media debut in 2009, and its introduction to the West in 2012, Attack on Titan has been one of the most popular pieces of pop culture to come out of Japan in years. Now, after some pretty lame browser games, a forgettable Nintendo 3DS game, we are given a proper Attack on Titan game.
Fans of the anime or the manga will instantly be familiar with the core arc in the Attack on Titan PlayStation 4 game; it follows the exact same arc as the first 24 episodes of the anime. I will try to keep spoilers to a minimum, but they may squeak out a bit, so if you have not seen the anime or read the manga, I strongly recommend you all swing on over to Crunchyroll and sign-up for a free trial and binge-watch the series: https://www.crunchyroll.com/freetrial (and here is a direct link to the anime: http://www.crunchyroll.com/attack-on-titan ). Doing so will mean that the game, at times, will have far more impact than those that are not familiar with the source content. The game stays largely true to the source though, with only a few bits of creative liberty here or there (nothing serious, most cosmetic, though one or two bits are a little hazy based on timeframes). There are a few moments where someone unfamiliar with the franchise might go "huh?" But largely, the story remains the same, but with some added extras in the vein of survey missions and the campaign Epilogue. The primary story follows three childhood friends, the main character Eren Jeager and his best pals Mikasa Ackerman and Armin Artlet as they work to avenge fallen loved ones and break out of the slaughtering pen that is their home. Forewarning; I hate Armin Artlet so very much that I swore off anime for a number of months because he is just simply the worst character ever devised in the history of literature or pop-culture.
A little backstory; humanity is declining. Forced into a single massive "country" by giant humanity-devouring titans, the human race built giant walls to protect themselves and have, for the last 100 years, lived in relative peace. That was, up until the Colossal Titan, an impossibly tall titan that could peer over the 50m high wall, kicked a hole in it and allowed the roaming titans to enter the first of 3 walled districts. Our story essentially starts there and follows Eren and crew as they grow and work to regain the world for humanity's sake. The anime and mangas are intense; the game no less so. I would love to go on to tell you more, but frankly it would spoil #allthethings and I am not about to do that.
Throughout the course of the game you will come across familiar faces; there are no new entries (per se) to the character roster and those familiar with the source material will be able to immediately recognize all major players in the game. Especially when you take into account that the utterly stunning and incredibly intense seiyuu (Japanese voice actors) from the show reprise their roles in the game. That is a pretty intense feat and man, I was touched. Plus, Mikasa's seiyuu, Ishikawa-san has a voice to die for and her talent alone is likely a massive contributing factor as to why Mikasa Ackerman is one of the most beloved women in anime. And that is without fanservice! As the story progresses you will be able to play as Eren, Armin (yuck), Mikasa (yay!) and the Scout Regiment's star Lieutenant and resident clean-freak, Levi. However, once you play through the game's story mode you will eventually unlock many different players that you can control in the Expedition mode (or, if you exit the game during the Prologue and return, you can choose who you get to play as). There are a dozen or so playable characters; from Eren and Mikasa to fan favorites like Sasha "Potato Girl" Blaus or Annie Leonheart and each can be leveled to unlock new skills.
Attack on Titan for PlayStation 4 almost feels like a traditional musuo-style game but with far more refinement. Though at a quick glance the aesthetics might be similar to a Arslan: The Warriors of Legend, once you load into AoT you are immediately slapped with how different it is, and that is an amazing thing. All musou-style games are identical; argue all you want, but Samurai Warriors feels like Dynasty Warriors which feels like Arslan: The Warriors of Legend which in turn feels like One Piece which, following suit, feels like the Dynasty Warriors: Gundam titles. There is a level of "sameness" throughout all of them, whether they are from Koei Tecmo or Bandai Namco or some other party; they all feel the same. Attack on Titan though, gives the impression that it is going to feel and play like those other venerable franchises, but it does not. It is something new. Something faster. Something BETTER. Let's talk movement; musou-style games all feel a bit wooden when it comes to movement, even the Gundam ones, which are slightly better due to the ability to actually get off the ground, but still, movement never feels fluid. Sure, attacks are neat, but it is all fairly plain and uninspiring. Not so in Attack on Titan; with ODM (omni-directional maneuver gear), you will be zipping through the air in no time and you will feel like an absolute badass doing it. Until you are caught by a titan that is ... The jarring grab of a titan can discombobulate you easily and quickly pull you from your smooth, 3D maneuvering goodness and usher in a bit of frustration, but once you break away? Pretty darn easy to get back into the mix.
To aid you in your titan-slaying you have various skills and a number of upgrades at your disposal. As you accomplish side missions and kill titans, you will receive resources, between missions you can then use those resources to purchase new gear, upgrade existing gear, or fortify (which takes old gear, unused gear and destroys it while adding a bonus to the chosen/new gear). There are four essential pieces of equipment, your blades, which are styled essentially like giant box-cutters (with the exception of two types, one a wicked looking dagger-like thing, the other is essentially a nodachi), your canisters, which hold replacement blades and the gas propellant that allows you to whip through the scenery like a brutal Spider-Man using steel webbing. There is the actual reel that shoots the anchors and determines how fast you actually move, how far you can be from titans before anchoring, and the anchor strength (i.e. how long you can stay anchored to a titan).
The last piece of real equipment (you can do some minimal outfit changes) is your horse; some of the maps you play on are incredibly flat with nowhere to latch onto with your ODM gear so you will need to use your horse to move from objective to objective, firing your anchors into titans to get up into the air and position yourself for that sweet, sweet attack on the titan's one weak spot (the nape). Various horses will have higher speed at the cost of stamina, or vice versa; eventually you get to a point where your trusty steed has both incredible speed AND stamina, so that one is a bit of a moot point, but for the other equipment? Each item has a dozen or two different pieces to chose from and each item has its pros and cons. For instance, the Tiger Zero blade (a nodachi) is incredibly long, incredibly sharp, but is not all that durable. The Wing canisters house 5 blades rather than the two or three found in others, but do not have much in the way of gas pressure, meaning you may need to refill your resources at the various logisticians throughout each map. I personally went with the classic box-cutter blade, refined canisters, and basic reel to maintain authenticity, though I am hoping to gather enough resources for some of the other items in the post-game, because reasons.
Attack on Titan surprised me. I am more used to licensed properties, especially those in the anime world, being sub-par at best. Shingeki no Kyojin destroyed that expectation, stomped it into oblivion, then chewed on the remains. Serious, intense, fast, and incredibly challenging at times, Attack on Titan really shines when you are swinging from one side of a map to the other in the hopes of rescuing a comrade in distress. Though the Epilogue introduces a horrible looking and frankly dumb new titan, it still provides some good after-action, well, action. Playing through some of the side/survey missions actually helps flesh out the anime and manga quite well and when you experience all three mediums, you have a rich, clear picture of what the world of Attack on Titan is like. With its brilliant use of omni-directional maneuver gear, faithful video game adaptation of a beloved story, and subtle use of creative license, Attack on Titan on PlayStation 4 is a game of titanic proportions while staying grounded in its original source material.
Koei Tecmo Games
Koei Tecmo Games
Article by Robert