Attack on Titan: Wings of Freedom has one job. Let me ride the winds.
Attack on Titan is an Anime that I was introduced to recently and was hooked from the first episode. Emotions were all over the place, the characters were solid and impending doom was always right at the front of every episode. What really caught my eye in the show was the Omni-Directional Mobility Gear that allows its wearer to freely battle through 3D environments and take on the deadly Titans. After hearing about the release this year of Wings of Freedom and speaking with Chris from the team we both agreed that there was only one thing that this game needed to get right and that was to put us in that harness and allow us to traverse the world in freedom with some fast and fluid motions. We were not disappointed. Tecmo Koei really grasped the concept and added one hell of a mechanic to gaming. It certainly feels like you have the Wings of Freedom attached to you when playing.
The ODM Gear makes the game very fast paced and when you start to get to grips on timing staying on the ground really stops being an option, unless to refuel your gas canisters or switch out blades (this itself is not such an issue with unlocked perks). There is a real feeling of accomplishment and pride when you start pulling off kills and then dashing straight to the next wall or tree hunting out your next target in perfect motion. These days we seem to give in to the idea that games are going to be released full of glitches or not meet up to expectations in game-play but so far this has been flawless. I have never found the flow interrupted unless it has been due to my own stupidity by flying into the side of a building or the like. The mechanic seems to get a grasp on the area that you want to attach to without relying on a cross-hair for accuracy, allowing you to more time to concentrate on where you want to go and plan the route through obstacles.
The story is a cut down version of the original story in the Anime but not enough that it loses its core. They have kept the important areas and kept alive the parts that crushed my soul while watching the show (if you have seen it, you will know…). Having already watched the show I did think I might have been less interested in story a second time round but it grabbed me again and pulled me straight back in. At the end of a battle you are put into an area of the game where you can buy and upgrade gear, do survey missions and interact with characters which does give it a bit of an RPG feel. They are short and sweet moments of the game but enough to mix it up a bit from the main flow. I was glad to see that they chose to stay with the Japanese voice actors with English Subtitles but at times it can cause you to miss what is going on in the battlefield if you are focused on a target rather than reading what is popping up on-screen. Most of the time this does not affect game-play but keep your eyes peeled.
The game-play might be mainly set around the ODM Gear but there is more. Each mission will put you into a battlefield from the Anime and give you a main mission to complete. This might be a basic hack and slash Titan battle or require you to defend allies and buildings. During the battle flare signals will appear on the map from allies requesting help. I found it impossible not to suddenly stop what I was doing to rush and aid my friends at this time. Completion of the side missions will allow you to resupply from other fighters and give you the ability to recruit additional members to your team with a maximum of 4 who will be ranked from C – S depending on skill. Having the extra members will increase your ability to take on Titans by issuing orders that aid in the battlefield. Some of the levels that you fight through, such as the forests, might not have terrain all the way through that can be used with the ODM Gear. For these missions you will have access to a horse allowing you to ride up and launch directly into the Titan. This was questioned by my other half on why I needed a horse. I explained that nothing is cooler and more stylish than galloping forward on a horse only to launch yourself into the trees and swing into the heat of battle (tell me I am wrong.). Customisation in the game isn’t too deep but allows upgrades for blades, ODM gear and reels. There are nice variations in what each upgrade or new purchase can do depending on your style of play. I personally prefer the long blades with a fast reel speed. Get in and get out.
Killing Titans requires you to cut the Nape but is not always the best practice first off. Cutting off the limbs will help immobilise the target making it easy to get round the back and finish them with that all important cross slash. Taking away the limbs also has the chance to get you extra materials for buying or upgrading your gear. Not only this but at times when the battle is raging other fighters can get caught and chopping off a Titans arm will save them before they are devoured. I tell you this now, there is nothing that drives me in this game more than either seeing a death pop up on the screen or by reaching a Titan just a second too late and watching someone being eaten. Those Titans I always make sure to destroy limb by limb. The Titans that you come across will not always be the same, they range in size and shape and some are called abnormals which will require a bit more tactic to destroy. They may run, jump at you to try to swallow you or ignore you entirely and rush for the civilians you’re trying to save. The ones to really watch out for can harden parts of their body stopping you from cutting them.