STAFF REVIEW of Attack on Titan (Xbox One)

Sunday, September 11, 2016.
by John Elliott

Attack on Titan Box art When Attack on Titan came out on Netflix I binged and watched the whole season in one weekend. It probably would have been a whole lot quicker if I didn't have to be an adult and go to work and take care of the kiddos. My sons aren't into anything with subtitles so it wasn't something I could convince them to enjoy as well. Suffice to say when I had the opportunity to take the video game version of this series on for review, it was definitely a no brainer.

Immediately when hopping into the game I noticed that the developers obviously modeled the artistic style after the anime series but there is something about how they did it that seems to be a little bit off, which is especially noticeable in the cinematic portions of the game where the bulk of the story gets told. Instead of using the actual series footage and the beautifully animated material that they had access to, they re-created scenes from the series using their graphics engine. This unfortunately made the characters in these cinematics look blocky and out of place. Although close to the original medium, it would have been ideal for them use direct footage from the series to create a more authentic feel to the game. Even though that design choice doesn't seem to fit the series, the graphics were definitely not horrible and were really well done. Where this really shines was in the game play itself. This is where it worked for the game in the graphics department and I couldn't see it going any other way. There were some glitchy moments where Titan's would fall over oddly and your character would get stuck in places, but once you got used to the controls those moments were not happening nearly as much when I was first learning the game.

Although I am not a huge fan of the choice in recreating scenes from the series, they either got the exact same voice actors or some really talented folks to re-create the cast, as they didn't miss a beat. The talent is immediately noticed as the fears, joys, and rage that comes out of the characters at times is clearly heard. The musical score definitely helped tighten the Attack on Titan world, which shows the developers obviously took a great passion towards doing so. Not to mention the spot on sound effects of soldiers flying through the air taking out Titans along with their blood curdling roars when you give one of them fine cuts to their bodies. Which leads us on how to take these bad boys out.

For newcomers to Attack on Titan, you fill find yourself learning about ODM (Omni Directional Mobility) gear which is some grappling hooks on pulleys that launch you around by hooking into trees, or in a lot of cases, into Titans themselves. Oh, and if you don't know what a Titan is, it's a massive giant that eats humans and causes a whole lot of mindless destruction. Titans are who you want to kill, and you do that by using the ODM gear to swing your way behind the Titan and using some sweet swords to cut out the nape of their neck. This is the one and only weak spot on a Titan, as if you cut anything else off like arms or hands, they will eventually regenerate. You can take off the limbs to make it a bit easier to take out the nape of the neck, but often I found it best to go for the kill shot to end the battle quickly before any casualties occur.

The ODM gear is your main mode of transportation in the game which allows you to traverse the maps and locating Titan's to slay. In general, each level is pretty much the same where you are tasked with exploring an area, kill some Titans, and a boss level Titan often called an Abnormal. Abnormal's work a little different than your typical Titan as they have intelligence and often have a target that they are trying to get to, be it a person, building, supply cache, etc. Throughout the levels other soldiers will shoot up a flare gun to indicate that they need help as they are being overwhelmed by Titan's, and it's up to you to get there and provide support. These side missions will benefit you in a variety of ways.

Upon completion, traps will open up, or you will gain access to supplies, or the soldier will join up on your team. On a team you have the soldier you are controlling which rotates between Eren, Mikasa, Armin, and Levi, along with four others that aid you in your battles. Each character can command their team to do specific things like guarding, fanning out to attack titans, or to focus on certain titans. Each character has a special ability with Armin's being the ability to target specific limbs and get this team to attack Titan's at his command. If you wish, you're able to go through a whole level without Armin lifting his blade once by commanding other soldiers to attack. Each other character has their own special abilities, like Mikasa being able to get bonus attacks in, or Levi having a spinning attack that does extra damage. Eren's ability contains some spoilers to the story if you haven't watched the anime, so you're going to have to play the game to find out what he can do.

Aside from these gameplay elements there is one other introduction of transportation, and that is horses which allows you to traverse areas you are not able to use your ODM gear due to lack of structures in areas to grab on too. The horses allow you to move around Titan's where you would normally grapple onto a Titan to deliver some killing blows. This is the game play cycle in a nut shell, except what kind of game would it be if you didn't get to be a Titan yourself!?

At one point in the game it deviates from being a soldier into you becoming a Titan yourself, which allows you to deal massive damage to your enemies by punching, kicking, throwing, or even jumping on top of them to deal the final blow. Taking on the role of a Titan is a lot of fun but it simply degrades into a button masher where there is little strategy and mostly a lot of “HULK SMASH!” type of moments as you just beat things down in your way. This may be a negative to some, but there is something to be said about taking some time in a video game to vent frustrations by going full tilt in a old fashioned slobber knocker. I thoroughly enjoyed these battles when I had the opportunity to do so regardless of its simplicity.

You are graded on your skills when playing through the levels and also level up your characters along with the ability to buy new equipment and upgrades. Even though you can buy upgrades, they don't seem to make all that much of a difference in the scheme of things except for cosmetics. Although there a lot of fun aspects to Attack on Titan, it does tend to get repetitive with a lot of the same types of mission objectives repeated over and over. I often found myself skipping through dialogue, not because I knew the story already, but it didn't add a whole lot to to the gameplay value. Skipping through those scenes got me to the meat and the potatoes of the game, which is the action versus titans of course.

Attack on Titan surprisingly is a great adaptation from anime to video game that added a lot of fun and enjoyable experiences. The biggest downfall is the repetitive levels that you just push through to get them done and over with, which is sad because they could have done a whole lot more to add layers to the gameplay. Attack on Titan could have been a lot of better with a RPG base rather than an action game with RPG elements sprinkled in. Overall though, I think fans and newcomers will enjoy this title if their looking for a great action game, regardless of how invested into the anime you are.

Overall: 8.0 / 10
Gameplay: 8.0 / 10
Visuals: 7.0 / 10
Sound: 9.0 / 10


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