Whenever a beloved series is adapted into a video game I naturally fear for the worse. All too often we see high profile film, television and anime fail miserably when converted into the gaming genre. Luckily Attack on Titan: Wings of Freedom doesn't fall into that depressing basket of broken hopes and dreams, instead soaring on it's steam punk-esque wings.
Originally created in 2009 by Hajime Isayama, Attack on Titan has become immensely popular, spanning sixteen volumes and selling in excess of forty five million copies, 2013 saw the release of a twenty three episode anime series, and lastly, 2015 brought with it two live action films. I can personally vouch for the anime but the live action films were total garbage.
Wings of Freedom retells the story from the first season of the anime, putting you in the shoes of lead character, Eren Yeager, as well as a few of the other members of The Survey Corps as they attempt to take the fight back to the giant, humanoid Titans and reclaim earth.
Playing through the games chapters sees you navigate through the Attack on Titan story, starting with the very first Colossus Titan attack, Omega Force cleverly ties the game's tutorial mode into Eren and co joining the military and undertaking their training. Upon graduating after 5 years of training Eren, his childhood friend Armin and his foster sister Mikasa join the Survey Corps.
Marrying together a surprisingly intuitive combat system with various musou elements, WOF will see you zipping around the map at high speeds as you plan your attack on Titans (pun intended). You see taking on a 15 metre tall Titan is no simple feat, the only way to kill them is by slicing at the nape of their neck, anything but an easy feat in the heat of battle. Luckily Omega Force have developed a diverse set of controls, that while difficult to master at first, allow you to surgically take down Titan after Titan while flying around on your Omni-Directional Mobility Gear.
The experience of taking down a creature ten times your size gets the heart pumping, flying around with reckless abandon, diving in and out of combat while also trying not to become a Titan's next meal is a sight to behold, even more thrilling when you're the one playing.
At the core of Wings of Freedom is a simple hack and slash premise, but it's a lot more complicated than that, you need to have tack when you go in to battle, swinging your dual blades aimlessly will quickly see you inside a Titans stomach. Luckily there is a specific button mapped which transitions you from navigation mode into combat mode, locking your character on to a Titan and highlighting key hit points. From there the neck obviously provides the insta-kill but when you come across the "large" Titans you will need to first slash away at their arms and legs, slowing them on the battlefield, allowing you to land that critical neck strike. While taking flight with your gear there is also a "boost" button which gives you temporary bursts of speed via refillable gas canisters, these boosts not only keep you out of a Titan's clutches but also generate the necessary speed to land that instant kill.
Wings of Freedom follows a similar formula to the Dynasty Warriors franchise, each mission tasks you with killing a certain amount of enemies (in this case, Titans), once said amount have been eliminated you must then take down a boss. Other similarities between both franchises see you sharing the battlefield with up to four AI characters, during missions you can have them join your party, co-ordinate joint attacks and provide general support.
Without diving into heavy spoiler territory when you gain the ability to control a Titan in certain missions the game changes heavily, gone are the quick twitch movements and break neck speeds, in its place is a 15m tall behemoth. Being in Titan form is a powerful experience, crushing skulls with your bare hands, throwing other Titans (and yourself) through buildings and just generally destroying your surroundings has you feeling like a human Godzilla.
There are minor amounts of customization available in game, during missions you earn and collect various resources which you can then use to purchase upgrades to your Blades, Scabbard and ODG. Upgrades range from weapon damage and durability, improved anchors to movement speed and canister size.
Visually Omega Force have done a fantastic job, Wings of Freedom looks like you are watching the anime, the character models and environments are carbon copies of their TV counterparts, which is anything but a bad thing. From start to finish the gameplay and the cut scenes have a high amount of polish, taking the artistic style from the anime and adding some comic style cell shading. Watching buildings within the districts tumble around you is especially impressive, as is during combat when your character gets splattered with lashings of blood from your victims. On the sound front the score is plucked straight from the anime, as is the spoken segments, the version I played through was in Japanese with English subtitles, which I had zero issue with, the vocal deliveries were perfect and added to the grim emotion filled vibe of the game. No word yet if there will be an English dubbed version available.
In closing, fans of the Attack on Titan series will love this game, it admirably handles the source material while also creating a universe that is fun to wage war in. Outside of the Story Mode, there is Free Mode and Scout Mode gives you the ability to play online co-op with 3 friends. It can be repetitive at times but overall Wings of Freedom is a title well worth picking up if you're a fan of manga/anime or the hack and slash musou style.
3.75 out of 5
+ True to the Source Material
+ Graphical Style
- Can Get Repetitive
- Was Surprisingly Easy
ATTACK ON TITAN: WINGS OF FREEDOM WAS REVIEWED USING A "RETAIL" XBOX LIVE DOWNLOAD KEY PROVIDED BY REBOOT PR