Attack on Titan Review

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Game Title: Attack on Titan
Developer: Omega Force, Koei Tecmo
Platform: PlayStation Vita
Game Type: Vita
Download: 2.9 GB
NA Availability: Digital Download
EU Availability: Digital Download
PSTV Support: Yes

Attack on Titan was and still is a phenomenom. When it launched in Japan, it got crazy-popular crazy-fast, and the same thing happened over in the West. The first season of the anime ended 2 years ago, yet I still see merchandise for it in stores everywhere. Every Hot Topic I go into, I see Scout Regiment jackets, Eren Jaeger bracelets, plushies, and the list just keeps going and going. Sure, it’s allegedly getting Season 2 next year after a million delays, but it’s got to be big to stay popular with merchandise still out for that long. Even Dragon Ball Z merchandise died down until they started making movies for it again.

With how popular it is, it’s a shock there haven’t been a dozen good games based on the anime and manga yet. The 3DS tried, with Attack on Titan: Humanity in Chains. But, it didn’t go over so well. It had a lot of hype, but the actual gameplay turned out to be pretty lackluster and clunky.

That’s not to say that can’t change for newer games, though. Having been a hit in Japan, the Attack on Titan game made by Musou experts, Koei Tecmo, has finally come West and there’s been a lot of hype about it actually being a pretty decent game. How decent? Well, let’s find out. Here’s my review of the Vita and PSTV version of Attack on Titan!

Story

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The plot of the game is the same as the anime. The world depicted is one where humanity is on the brink of extinction after a race of giant humanoids known as “Titans” appear and devour nearly all of the human race. To protect themselves, giant walls are built to keep Titans out, until a new Titan, taller than the wall, breaks it down and leaves humanity scrambling for survival.

In the midst of this first attack, a young child named Eren Jaeger vows revenge against the entire Titan race and joins up with two of his close friends to learn the ways of Titan-fighting in the hopes of one day joining the Scout Regiment section of the military, dedicated to venturing outside the walls that protects their race and take the fight straight to the Titans.

The storyline of this game covers the entire first season of the anime, but one thing that will make fans interested is that some storyline parts in the game go past the first season’s ending and shows a little insight to a few things that happen afterwards. It’s not to an extensive point, but it’s fun to be able to see new story past just what we’ve already seen in the anime.

Gameplay

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This is a fast-paced action game mixed with aerial elements and a bit of strategy in as well. Most people may think this will just be a copy-paste musou like Samurai Warriors or Dynasty Warriors. While some elements from those games are in here, this takes much more from Attack on Titan than it takes from a standardized musou formula. There won’t be massive hordes of enemies and you’ll be flying around stages like Spider-Man, taking out Titans in a very not-musou way.

When you boot up the game, you have a few game modes to go through. Attack Mode takes you through the story, True Attack Mode unlocks after beating the story and is basically NG+ / Hard Mode for the plot, Expedition Mode is for Multiplayer missions (There is no Cross-Play, so Vita can only play with other Vita owners), and then you have Gallery for viewing info and character models, Options for game settings, and Download for accessing DLC once DLC starts to release for the game.

Game progression basically goes between a Camp / Base and actual stages. You always have a camp between missions. In Attack Mode / Story Mode, you’ll automatically switch to the required character for the next story event while in Expedition, you can play as any of the 10 unlockable characters. At the camp, you can buy materials, craft, upgrade, and fortify your weapons and equipment, and buy unlocked Titan models to decorate your camp with. On occasions, you can also talk to NPCs for side quests or character-specific perspectives of missions you’ve already done.

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When you’re out in the field you really get the Attack on Titan feel and action. Instead of a standard musou way of movement, you have Omni-Directional Movement gear. If there’s anything near you to grapple against, you can jump into the air, grapple, and fly through the air like Spider-Man around stages. You can also grapple onto enemies if there isn’t anything else around to go in for an attack, but in the busier environments, you will have a lot to grapple to for easy and fast movement.

The physics engine behind all of this is pretty extensive. In some Spider-Man games, you can web-swing anywhere, even if there isn’t anything to cling onto. In Attack on Titan, physics are in play from start to finish. If there’s nothing to grapple onto, you can’t use your Omni Gear. Also, if you’re flying around, attached to an enemy and another enemy runs between you or you get a tree or other object between you, it will hit your cable and cut the connection. KT went the distance to make the physics as realistic as possible to keep you on your toes.

There is also a limitation. You use gas up when you’re using your gear, and you do not have unlimited gas. You have supplies with you to replenish your gas a couple times, but once that’s out, you need to find NPCs around the stages to give you more. Just as Mikasa learned in the anime, wasting gas can be useful or lead you into trouble. But, if this happens, you also have a warhorse in battle with you that you can use to cover distance to recovery supplies.

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Now, let’s talk about combat. Every enemy you fight will be a Titan. There are various sizes and some boss-level Titans (fans will know exactly who these are), but every enemy you fight is going to be some sort of Titan. Fighting them will be a matter of grappling to body parts and attacking until you can sever those parts off and finally severing the enemy’s nape to kill them.

At first, you can just go straight for the nape and attack only it until they die and that’s pretty simple. But, to keep things fresh and challenging, the further you get into the game, the more enemies appear that have their nape protected and fortified, resistant to attacks. In order to otake down this shield, you have to sever other limbs off of the Titan. Only then can you do enough damage to be realistic to quickly take them down. This is also to help encourage you to attack other parts, as many limbs will give you rare materials used for equipment crafting and enhancing.

One thing to be wary about with attacking is that you need to be at good angles and with a lot of speed to attack for good amounts of damage. The slower you are or at wrong angles will not only do less damage and give you a chance of being grabbed and eaten, but also do a lot of durability damage to your weapons. Once durability is down so much, your blades will break and you only have so many reserves you can swap out per mission.

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More of the strategy comes in the form of different kinds of missions and side-missions. When you go into a mission, you’ll always be attacking Titans, but missions vary. Some missions may have you fighting to defend an outpost, while others may have you escorting NPCs or other characters across Titan-filled environments towards a goal point to make a bombardment or just get them to safety. One mission that I thought was particularly different and interesting was where you had to taunt and make Titans follow you across the map, unable to damage them until the objective was complete.

Side Missions are optional missions, but worth going out of your way to do. In every mission, you will see green smoke flares to signal that someone is in trouble. Rushing across the map to help them will lead you to either fight off Titans that are attacking them or escort them somewhere. The strategy involved here is judging whether you have enough time to leave your current objective, finish the side mission, and get back before something bad happens to your other allies. If successful, most side missions will let you link with a character and they’ll join your party and attack Titans with you.

After doing a lot of these in a mission, you’ll have “Final Subjugation Targets” appear on the map and taking these down will basically end the match and you’ll win. Do note that the defense missions where you’re just keeping Titans away from your base don’t have these. They are more on time limitations and fighting until a timer runs down to zero.

Before going on, let’s talk about the other way of combat. In a few missions, you have Titan Battles. Fans will know what I’m talking about here and I won’t spoil a thing for those that don’t know yet. In these battles, you control Titans instead of humans in combat that feels more closely to 3D brawlers than mindless action games.

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Upon winning a battle, you’re awarded with a few things. First, you’re given experience both for your character and your overall rankings. Leveling up rankings will unlock new equipment to be bought and made at your camp, like more powerful weapons, equipment that has bigger gas reserves, or weapons that are more durable.

This all comes together to a point that feels very true to the Attack on Titan mythos. Flying around on Omni gear functions just like it does in the show, all of the Titan models were taken from the Manga and Anime, and every time a boss shows up, it has that heightened difficulty that feels like it does for the characters in the anime, especially in True Attack Mode.

The only thing I will say is that people might expect the game to be repetitive. Although there are a lot of different objectives, you’ll notice that there isn’t much variety in enemy models or environments since they were all taken from the manga and anime and nothing outside of that was made. While that can feel a little repetitive, if you don’t really get into the Omni gear, fighting the same Titans over and over again could start to feel repetitive for you. I would say this is much more apparent once you get past the story and get into Survey Missions and multiplayer than story since there isn’t a lot of story to go along with those missions.

Overall, I would gauge the game’s story mode as a 12-20 hour experience, depending on what difficulty you choose. Easy Mode would be more towards 12 hours, Normal towards 20, and if you choose to do True Attack Mode later on, it’d likely be much longer. I have not completed True Attack yet, since it’s more of a NG+ and I’m more set on working on completing survey missions to unlock more character info in the Gallery.

Controls

First off, PlayStation TV owners will be glad to know that the game is completely compatible with the micro-console and things run just as well here as they do on the go.

Let’s get to controls. You move around with the Left Analog Stick and use the Right Analog Stick to move the camera in free movement and switch locked targets when you’re grappled to an enemy. The D-Pad isn’t used for movement, but more for giving orders to your AI partners. It is also used to cycle your items if you need to use a healing item, replenish gas and blades, or use grenades to stun enemies to give you more time to take them down before your teammate gets eaten.

Regarding the face buttons, X is used for jumping into the air or using up gas to give you a jetpack-like boost across the stage. Square is used to initiate your grapple, either on nearby objects or an enemy you’re locked onto. Triangle is used for attacks, and Circle is used to interact with NPCs to pick up items from dead comrades or getting supplies from Logisticians. Finally, the triggers can be used for locking onto enemies and the touch screen can be tapped to shoot up a signal flare for nearby characters to come and help you.

The controls are pretty self-explanatory with all you go through in the initial tutorials. The game explains everything you’ll be doing rather well so you’re never lost in the heat of a battle

Presentation

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Here’s where I’ve seen a lot of PS Vita gamers already in a pessimistic attitude towards the game. The game looks terrible and plays worse, they say. So, what is my take on this? The visual engine certainly isn’t the shining peak of PS Vita graphics capabilities. The visuals look about like other Warriors games do, with being somewhere between PSP graphics and normal PS Vita graphics. In the heat of battle, you won’t notice it too much, but I’d actively compare it to the Vita versions of recent Warriors games, like Samurai Warriors 4 Empires.

There are two things I do want to mention here as being something that can make the experience frustrating. One is something built into all versions of the game and one is specific to the handheld version. First, the camera. The camera is your worst enemy if you’re surrounded by Titans, especially in tight corners. I don’t know how many times I’ve landed a kill, gotten hit and landed on the ground, and tried to move while all the camera showed was a rock wall, leaving me to hope I point the analog stick in the right direction when I evade.

The other is the frame-rate. For the most part, the frame-rate of Attack on Titan stays pretty steady. It’s mostly when you land kills and in heavily crowded areas that things start to drop. If you’ve seen PS4 footage of the game, everything pauses and slows down for a moment when you land a kill. The Vita version does this too, but when you do animated kill scenes, the Vita version’s frame rate drops a fair bit after the kill is done with. This leaves you a little vulnerable if you’re surrounded.

Also, in some crowded areas, the frame rate will drop a fair bit. This was mostly done for me in small crevices where I had 4 or more Titans right on top of me at the same time. You can get out of those situations, but the lower frame rate definitely makes things harder than they should be.

Summary

Attack on Titan is a fun game that goes far to match and stay true to its source material. On the downside, the camera is very bothersome, the game can get repetitive once multiplayer hits so far, and the Vita version has some frame dip issues in crowded areas. If you can deal with a few frame dips, it’s a lot of fun to mindlessly fly around in Omni Gear on the go. If not, you should still check out the console version if you’re a series fan.

7/10

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