Attack on Titan is a popular anime and manga about a world in which humanity lives in walled cities to protect against gigantic carnivorous monsters called Titans. Koei Tecmo's Attack on Titan videogame is due out on Xbox One, PC, and PlayStation this August. We've played it, and is surprisingly good!
Remember the Titans
Attack on Titan takes place in an alternate reality. 100 years in the past, gigantic creatures called Titans drove humanity to the brink of extinction. Titans want nothing more than to eat humans and are otherwise devoid of reasoning. Think of them like massive, monstrous zombies.
Humanity has been forced to retreat behind three 50-meter walls that keep the Titans at bay. Erin Jaeger, one of the series protagonists, loses his mother at a young age when the Titans breach one of the walls. He grows up to join the military, along with a couple of childhood friends. The military consists of three branches: one dedicated to reclaiming the land outside the wall, one to guarding the wall and civilians, and one that guards the royal family.
All of this will come into play as the Attack on Titan game retells the entirety of the TV show's first season. It's both a faithful adaptation of the source material and a perfect primer for gamers who haven't watched or read Attack on Titan before. Ten characters from the show will be playable: Eren, Mikasa, Armin, Jean, Connie, Sasha, Krista, Levi, Hange, and Erwin.
Attacking the Titans
The Attack on Titan game begins during Eren's time as a trainee in the Scout Regimen. The young scouts of the 104th Cadet Corps head to the forest outside of the wall in order to practice battling Titans. The beasts come in many shapes and sizes, with these early training monsters reaching heights of 20 feet or so.
Titans can take damage in each of their limbs, but they can only be killed by a blow to the back of the neck. Our heroes must get in close enough to stab them there, usually resulting in an instant kill. But how do they get all the way up there? That's where the fun comes in.
Humans have developed a device called the Omni-Directional Mobility Gear (ODM) that allows them to move in any direction at great speed. The ODM consists of a harness that fires a pair of gas-powered grappling hooks. Using this gear, soldiers can quickly move around the forest or cities like Spider-Man. The grappling hooks need something to latch onto, but otherwise they provide an exhilarating freedom of movement.
Once within range of a Titan, the Right Bumper will initiate Combat Mode. Pressing the X button will fire one of the ODM's anchors into the Titan's body.
At this point, our heroes can use the Left Analog Stick to swing around the monster's body in order to reach a favorable angle for the attack. The Right Analog Stick will fire an anchor into a different body part. Swinging around too much puts pressure on the anchor and causes it to fall out though, so you'll need to aim quickly.
After latching on to the monster, releasing the stick will send you flying towards the targeted body part. Pressing and holding the A button provides a speed boost and increases the damage dealt by a successful attack. Just as you reach the target, hit the Y button and you'll damage or destroy the target in a spray of blood. Damaging a Titan's limbs before killing it will get you valuable crafting resources.
After slicing a Titan's body up a bit, you can finally go in for the kill with a blow to the neck. You have to hit the attack button just as you reach the monster's neck in order to deliver the killing blow. Miss and you'll have to swing around and start a new attack.
Attack on Titan's gameplay and combat basically combine the free-swinging fun of the best Spider-Man games with a satisfying slingshot mechanic. Swinging from place to place, finding an enemy, and then slingshotting yourself at the monster's weak points is not only exciting, it's like nothing else on the market.
Fighting monsters isn't all Eren and friends will do, though. They also have to manage resources. The ODM runs on gas. The more you use it, the lower your fuel gets. Weapons work the same way. The more you use a sword, the less sharp its blade becomes. You'll need to maintain sharp swords if you want to exterminate those pesky Titans.
Refilling these consumables is a cinch, luckily. NPC squadmates called Logisticians will replenish gas canisters and blades upon request. The refills they can provide are limited though, so you'll still have to manage your resources with care during longer missions. The ODM and other gear can also be upgraded with body parts scavenged from Titans, sort of like the Monster Hunter series.
Solo and co-op missions
Although the tutorial mission takes place in a forest, most of the remaining missions happen within the breached walls of the city. The campaign consists of 20 missions based on the first season of the TV series, with additional missions that take the story even further. More than 60 side missions are available as well, which makes for quite a lot of content overall.
During these missions, you'll have a primary goal and several optional objectives. These include tasks like defending a vital part of the city, escorting a group across the battlefield, killing specific Titans, and more. Green smoke signals indicate optional objectives like rescuing a character from the show or defending civilians. Complete side missions and you'll be rewarded with resources or an NPC will join your team and aid in the fight.
All of Attack on Titan's side missions can be played in 4-player online co-op. Progress like overall player level, character level, and upgrades carry over between single-player and multiplayer. You'll select your character, choose between Normal or Hard mode, and then meet up in the host's customizable camp (which functions as a lobby). There, you can equip outfits for you character, decorate the camp with unlockable items, upgrade equipment and buy supplies for the next mission.
The co-op team will want to earn a high rating on the actual mission in order to unlock the best rewards. Every player gets ranked independently based on the number of Titans they kill. Thus you'll want to split up and rack up a few kills before coming together to take on the stronger Titans in the area. Missions go so much faster in co-op, and you'll have a better chance at S-Ranks to boot.
The Titans are coming
The Xbox One version of Attack on Titan that we played wasn't final, but it already promises to be one of the better licensed games released this year. Visually, the cel-shaded characters look just like their anime counterparts, as do the hideous Titans. The environments aren't too fancy, but they do capture the show's early Twentieth Century-style European architecture quite well – and it's destructible.
On the sound front, the game will feature Japanese voiceovers with English subtitles. There will not be an English dub. This shouldn't surprise anyone who has played Koei Tecmo anime adaptations like Arslan: Warriors of Legend. Dubs are expensive to produce, and anime fans tend to enjoy the original Japanese voices anyway.
Attack on Titan is coming to Xbox One, Steam, PlayStation 3 and 4, and Vita on August 30th in North America. If you'd like to check out the show in the meantime, it's on Hulu.
Are you guys excited about slicing and dicing some Titans?
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