The Attack on Titan universe is far from the nicest place around. Everything takes place around a hundred years after the arrival of huge creatures ranging from about 4 to 60 meters in height known as Titans. The Titans wiped out the entirety of the human race, save for those who managed to find safety behind three huge walls. As you’d expect, the Titans eventually find ways to break through and bam, you’ve got yourself an action series.
The surviving humans use an all-important tool to fight off Titans. Called Omni-Directional Mobility gear, it allows them to swing around on wires at exceptional speeds off the ground, somewhat negating the difference in height — think steampunk Spider-Man with Deadpool’s arsenal. This gear allows the humans to attack the Titans’ one week spot at the base of their neck… ’cause you know, everyone’s got to have that one thing. Most importantly, taking down a Titan isn’t possible without crazy, cool-looking feats of acrobatics.
Caught up on the franchise yet? Good. Wings of Freedom manages to completely deliver gameplay that matches the world it’s based upon, creating outrageous moments of action. Being a big fan of the anime series, my expectations for in-game combat was set unrealistically high before playing, but they were surprisingly met. Feels good, man.
Fighting is by far Wings of Freedom’s strongest feature to the point that it’s perfect. You can traverse maps and swing around objects at blinding speeds, all with an incredible amount of control. It’s this precision that makes combat so good. As such, the game feels like it’s completely built around it — to the point that everything else feels as if it was given far less attention. Good thing that battles truly are the main event.
The game is set in a world where one little mistake will cost you your life and this rings true as you play. Kinda. I never actually died or failed a mission in my entire playthrough. I’m not bragging — in reality, I’m usually terrible at these kind of games but Wings of Freedom is more fair than hard. Every time I made a mistake that put my life in danger there was a chance for a possible escape. More importantly, every mistake felt like my fault; nothing was ever cheap. If I made an error in judgement, I immediately knew what to do next time in the same situation.
After spending months in the localisation phase of development, I assumed Omega Force was recording the English voice cast from the anime. I was wrong. I didn’t mind that the game is completely in Japanese — I’ve watched the anime twice, once with each cast and they’re both great. Still, I became frustrated with the lack of an english cast. Wings of Freedom is fast-paced, precise and sometimes finicky. You have to pay attention at all times or you or another character is going to die and possibly cost you a mission. This just doesn’t work well with subtitles as you can’t read and focus on your fighting at the same time. I tried to multitask, but could never get it to work. This fact doesn’t break the game, but I felt like I was missing so much as I was playing and characters were yelling at me.
The text you’ll end up missing can be really important information too, like the next step of the current mission or a friend advising they’re under attack. I learnt to just completely ignore any NPCs yelling at me because I was more likely to get chomped if I wasn’t paying attention. Anything super important will show up immediately on the map anyway, as a tip, so just keep an eye on that from time to time. There is also a transcript during each mission, if you go into the menu, but I never really bothered with it. I felt like the moment had passed and I had missed the intricacy of whatever was being said to me.
The world of The Attack on Titan feels like the perfect place for exploration, but Wings of Freedom doesn’t go down this path. It’s heavily structured, mission to missions; once one is complete, you simply select the next mission. It works fine, but it feels a little claustrophobic nonetheless. If there was even a hint of an open world mechanic, Wings of Freedom would be much improved. Replayable missions are great for making you want to perfect everything and get the best rank and gear, but toward the end of things, it started to feel like working on a spreadsheet.
If you’re a completionist like me, this isn’t all bad news — and there are plenty of missions in Wings of Freedom. After around six of the game’s twenty-odd story missions, you’ll unlock survey missions. They’re a little shorter but basically involve cutting down Titans… like everything else. Once you reach the end of the story and the credits roll there is still plenty to do.
The aforementioned credits will pop up right about the same time as the plot reaches the end of the first season of the anime series — and yes, there are more story missions after the credits. There are about five missions set after the end of season one, but nothing too spoilery. The agonising wait for season two continues.
To unlock these extra story missions, though, you’ll have to do a crazy amount of survey missions. Each story mission is set in a different area and you’ll have to unlock that area first by surveying it. This becomes a bit of a grind as you’ll need to complete around forty survey missions to reveal everything. It’s here that things start to become too repetitive. Doing so many missions will allow you to get your hands on all the best weapons, so you start to become a little overpowered. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it certainly changes the feel of the game. You’re an expert now — and as such, Titans aren’t scary like they should be. You can literally kill three with a single swing of your blade at that point; my, how things have changed since boot camp.
Attack on Titan: Wings of Freedom knows exactly what it is. It has perfected the most important elements, seemingly at the cost of other systems. The story closely follows the anime series and adds a little extra, so if you’re a fan you’ll be happy with the accurate retelling. If you’ve never watched the series, this could be a good way to dive into the franchise.
Attack on Titan: Wings of Freedom was reviewed using a promotional code on PS4, as provided by the publisher.
Review: Attack on Titan: Wings of Freedom
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