With the subtitle 'Wings of Freedom', you may well be expecting a game about sanitary towels, but no! The preceding 'AOT' acronym stands for 'Attack On Titan'. AOT is an ongoing manga series, an anime series (the second season of which is due next year), two live action movies, a handful of novels, a half dozen or so games that never made it outside of Japan... and this one, which did.
Developed by Omega Force and out now for PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox One and even the Vita (yup, really), Wings Of Freedom is quite frankly a fan's dream come true. I've had hours upon hours of fun with it and I'm still playing, though that statement comes with a suitably titan-sized caveat; if you're not already an Attack On Titan fan, you're probably not going to get an awful lot out of this.
There are a lot of (skippable) cut scenes telling the story, and it's virtually all lifted directly from the series, but an awful lot has been dropped out of necessity (no mention at all of Eren's father or how Mikasa and Eren met, for example). Plus of course you're thrown into the whole 'killing giant naked people' thing with only a minimum of explanation of what the hell's going on. From here on out, therefore, I'll presume that you already know the story.
It's hard to imagine how the developers could've made it feel any more like you're fighting in the middle of the series' world. Characters, equipment, locations, and enemies all look exactly as they should. Titan appearances and behaviour are vital to anything seeking to offer an authentic AOT experience... and Omega Force have absolutely nailed it here. You get small, medium, large, and Abnormals. Their behaviour and animations match the anime pretty much perfectly. They'll grin and gurn gormlessly like people who think Mrs Brown's Boys is funny, they'll chase you (and others), they'll try to snatch attackers out of the air, Abnormals have their weird movements (including the occasional dive for a human on the ground)... in other words, they act just like real titans. If, er, titans were real.
The pre-existing concerns of gas running out and blades needing to be replaced have of course been brought over to the game, meaning that there's an element of keeping an eye on your supplies. ODM use is nice and simple yet 'feels' exactly right. One button will send your anchors into any nearby scenery, starting your Spider-Man-like flight through the environment, while another will boost you forward. Titan combat works as it does in the series. Hook anchors into your target, get a clean run at the nape, and slice away for victory. However, you need to take several factors into consideration. The titan will try to defend itself if it can, and any others close enough are likely to swipe for you too. If anything gets between you and your target while attached, the line will snap. Approach too slow or at the wrong angle, and you'll deal minimal damage or no damage at all. More intelligent titans will try to defend the nape, and for them you'll have to take out the arms before being able to make the kill.
It all sounds great – and for people enamoured with the series such as myself, it is – but there's good reason I said non-fans probably won't be too impressed. Despite the (small) variety in environments, introduction of horses and different titan types, and previously mentioned storytelling, this is ultimately a game built on repetition. Whether you're starting the first mission or the final one, you know that it's going to ultimately come down to “kill a load of titans until the toughest one/ones appear, then kill them too”. Developing new equipment and improving existing isn't enough to deny that, nor are the epilogue chapters which go beyond the first anime series and introduce a new titan.
Fighting alongside others in online missions is a nice touch... or it would be, were the online mode not broken at time of writing. It's still pretty much a must-buy for fans, though.
AOT fans, Mikasa es tu casa. 4/5
AOT Wings Of Freedom at CeX
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