Most of our readers have probably heard of Attack on Titan at least once by now, but in case you’ve been living under a rock it's a popular manga-turned-anime that follows the last remnants of humanity living in a city surrounded by walls to protect them from an outside world has been overrun by giant nude (but lacking genitalia) giants. With this release, players get to experience that as a game. Dynasty Warriors developer Omega Force finally brings the franchise to the PC and consoles, and while it is easily the best gamified iteration yet, it suffers many of the same issues as the previously released 3DS game based on the series.
Attack on Titan is one of those franchises that sounds like it would be great as a video game but if you stop to think about it, that isn't the case. A majority of the anime has only one of two things happening: characters talking or having long drawn out introspectives, or killing titans. The actual killing of titans almost always plays out the same way. Characters use their specialized gear to zip through the sky and then slice the back of titans' necks to kill them—rinse, repeat. While this game captures all that, the fighting of titans is so simple and repetitive that it becomes a real bore after just a few missions.
Nearly every mission in Attack on Titan is exactly the same. Players travel around the town killing various titans and doing side quests to get CPU helpers or equipment until the final titan spawns. Even though you play as various characters from the series, they all control nearly identically aside from some small variances that aren't enough to make a big difference. Combat plays out the same every time as well: zip in with your gear, lock-on to a titan, select which part of its body you want to attack, reel yourself in, attack. Imagine doing that about 1,000 times and you've just played the game without buying it!
As the only way to kill titans is to attack the nape of their neck, you'll always have to hit them there last, and some require the player to take out certain limbs before being able to do so. This limb chopping mechanic doesn't so much relate to the anime and seems to only exist just to extend the gameplay a bit and does nothing to mix it up.
There are also a few levels in Attack on Titan where players get to control a titan, which plays like a very basic beat 'em up with no thought required. As simple as these levels were, they were a welcome change to the mind numbing slicing of titan necks.
At least movement feels great; zipping through the air is easy and fun. Simply hold the correct button and you'll be grabbing onto buildings, trees and titans on your way to victory. If you've ever played the fantastic Spider-Man 2 game from two generations ago, it feels a bit like that only faster and with some motion blur to really sell the feeling of travelling at breakneck speeds.
The art style in Attack on Titan is decent as well. Characters are all cel-shaded and look like 3D versions of their anime counterparts. The story directly follows the anime and ends at the same place. Characters are voiced by the same Japanese voice actors as the anime, meaning you're going to have to read subtitles if you don't understand Japanese. While this probably won't be a problem for most people, at times during missions characters are discussing what is going on with their words displayed in a large box that takes up a decent portion of the bottom right side of the screen. I was only able to read that box maybe once or twice, as it is very hard to focus on the task at hand and read at the same time.
I ran into a few glitches during my time with the PS4 version of Attack on Titan, such as minor but noticeable framerate drops, the physics on titans bodies going haywire after hitting the ground, and at one point a titan's face seemingly flew off and stretched to the fit the entire screen for a moment. None of these directly impacted my enjoyment of the game but were annoying enough to be worth mentioning.
Another major disappointment is the lack of the score from the anime, even though everything else is here. The provided score isn't bad at all, but it certainly isn't as memorable or catchy as the tunes found in the game’s animated counterpart.
Almost all the action in Attack on Titan takes place across three different types of maps: the town, the country, and the forest. While there are some small variations on these settings, the majority of the missions take place in the town (as that is what the story calls for) and you'll be there for hours before you visit anywhere else. Again, this is a reason why the series doesn't translate well to a game, at least if you directly follow the storyline of the anime.
If you're a hardcore fan of the anime, you might find Attack on Titan worth purchasing, but otherwise, I'd suggest newcomers avoid this and just watch the anime instead. It’s far more entertaining than this game lets on and doesn't last nearly as long. While the movement is fun, the combat is so repetitive that it will surely turn some players off, It is kind of what Omega Force is known for with the Dynasty Warriors games, but at least those have different moves for different characters. That said, whatever you do, don't watch the live action movie; it’s an abomination. If you have to choose, play this instead.