A.O.T. Wings of Freedom
Developed by Omega Force
Published by Koei Tecmo
*Please Note: This Review is of the PlayStation 4 Version*
Wings of Freedom follows the story of the anime in which over 100 years before the events of the story; Giant humanoid creatures known only as Titans suddenly appeared out of nowhere and without remorse or reason started to wipe out humankind by devouring them. In an attempt to prevent more casualties; The last of the human race retreated behind 3 walls built to keep the titans out and protect what is left of humanity. These walls were Wall Maria (Outermost Wall), Wall Rose (Middle Wall) and Wall Sheena (Innermost). For a long time humanity thought they were safe however hundreds of years later; A Young boy by the name of Eren Yaeger finds out the hard way that Humanity is far from safe when a mysterious 60ft Titan known as the Colossal Titan smashes Wall Maria giving entry to hundreds of titans; One of which devours Eren’s Mother in front of his very eyes. Shortly after witnessing the death of his mother; Eren vows to wipe out every titan in existence to save humanity and avenge his mother.
Years later; Eren along with his childhood friends Armin and Mikasa join the 104th Training corps in order to learn the skills needed to fight the titans in combat for the fate of humanity and upon successfully completing their training set out to join the scout regiment who actively head outside of the walls into titan territory to decrease their numbers and to find information into the threat. They are finally prepared when the Colossal Titan suddenly reappears and breaches Wall Rose leading to an epic battle which results in a tragic loss.
I will not mention anything else on the story as I don’t want to give away the entire story however what I can say about Wings of Freedom is that it stays extremely faithful to the Anime series and is pretty much done scene by scene with some extra goodness thrown into the mix.
The gameplay in AOT Wings of Freedom is phenomenal and is honestly such a fresh feel to a video game that I haven’t experienced in a really long time. One thing I want to say is that this game perfectly captures what an Attack on Titan game should play like in the fact it is fast paced, action packed and extremely bloody. So the first thing that I want to talk about is the traversal in this game which is spectacular in the fact that you use the 3DMG which is a special pack that works by firing anchors into buildings and launching yourself through the air at high speeds to get across the huge maps at ease. This is also your best friend as they are used to help you take down the primary enemies of the game in the form of the titans but I will get into that very shortly. The maneuverability of this device is smooth and doesn’t feel clunky in the slightest and honestly after playing many games with different ways to traverse the environments around you; I have to say that this might easily be in my top 5 of all time. There is of course more ways to traverse the world when you run low on gas in the form of Horses who can run at great speeds but also run out of stamina pretty quickly requiring the player to conserve the energy. Like with the 3DMG and Blades; You can buy new horses to increase the stats giving you longer stamina and more. Now I will get into the combat elements of the game which work really well as you can enter the combat mode by pressing which brings you into an easy to access targeting system on your selected titan. From here using the right analogue stick you can aim for the different body parts on the titan which you can attack (Arms, Legs or Neck “Fatal Point”). You then maneuver around the titan until you can get a clear attack and then press to launch your anchors into the body part chosen allowing you to maneuver around the titan until you can get a clear shot at the titans body part. Once you are in clear sight press to boost up and speed towards your opponent by releasing the gas from your 3DMG and then pressing the button upon impact to slash off the limb or to do damage to it at least. When fighting titans; You are rewarded depending on how quick and successful the kill is by earning medals with Gold medals being given for flawless kills, Silver for kills with a failed attempt and bronze usually with kills where the battle had you get grabbed by a titan (which I will get into really shortly). The combat can get pretty repetitive at times which some people could find boring however if you have as much fun killing the titans as I did then this shouldn’t be a problem.
The game of course does have some difficulty to it with the titans of course attacking back and hitting you in the process with most titans grabbing you to prepare a devastating kill move. This requires you to button mash before the timer runs out or you are a titan tasty treat. I like how they made the grab escapes a button mash as it allows you to truly get the feeling of the desperation of your character as they literally fight to survive. There is of course an avoid move aswell which comes if you fail to use the maneuverability of the 3DMG well. Basically this works where if the titan does damage to you and puts you in the damaged state and then tries to re-attack you (grab move); your character will gain a boost of focus where they can go into slow motion for a few brief seconds and avoid the attack by pushing the left analogue stick and one of the buttons. The game also features items which you can use such as Health Restoration, New Blades which you need to change every so often when your blades are losing their durability and gas canisters which you must replace in order to continue your traversal (Like the blades you must replace this when the gas runs low). There are other items in the game that you can use however such as Flash Grenades and Sound Grenades which are useful in stunning titans to give you an easier time of taking them down. This however requires careful attention as some titans hunt by sight and some hunt by sound requiring you to use the right grenades on the right titans. Another thing unique to the game is the different types of titans you’ll face off against as some will just attack regularly however the abnormals like in the anime are more unpredictable with their attacks making them more difficult targets. Something else that I really liked about the game is that there is a leveling up system in which you gain experience at the end of each mission which builds up your level towards your ranking as a soldier aswell as a character level up which gives your character unique skills familiar with their character traits such as Armin having the ability to command fellow soldiers and Levi being able to do a spinning motion upon attacking the titans limbs.
There is a few different modes available at the players disposal with Attack mode (Campaign) which takes you through the events of the show and beyond but also an Expedition mode in which you can take part in multiple mini missions where you basically have to take over an entire battlefield full of titans and do your best to fight to victory. Another thing that I loved about the game was the fact that as you progress through the game and complete missions you earn new materials which you can then use to upgrade your blades and 3DMGs. You can even create new blades and 3DMG’s which would be more suitable to assist you in battle which you can tell by viewing the stats at the side for damage, durability, gas consumption and more. Each mission in the game also has Side-Missions throughout the game which usually requires you to save a comrades life when they are swarmed by titans. These are a fun thing to do while you are fighting in the huge maps and missions as it helps you build more experience towards your final ranking aswell as giving you the opportunity to get new supplies, recruit new teammates and more importantly the ability to use different traps placed throughout the maps in order to stun the titan rendering them helpless to your attacks.
The final thing that I would like to talk about in terms of the gameplay is of course the titan gameplay in which you get to take on the role of a titan (It is a specific character who most Attack on Titan fans probably already know the name of but for the purpose of those who don’t know the show; I will not reveal the identity). Personally while it is obviously not as much fun as the traversal and blade slashing glory of the soldiers; The titan gameplay is extremely fun and feels like the perfect way to portray this in a game with the blade attacks being replaced with melee combos such as punches and kicks which shows just the true brutality of a fighting titan. The titan gameplay also brings about it’s own little fun features since the environments are destructible with buildings being no match for your fists, kicks and the other titans that you can throw and in addition to this; As a titan you slowly build up a rage meter as you attack which when filled can unleash an ultra finishing move in which you wipe out any nearby titans with a single blast. The movements as the titan are just as fast paced and fluent as the 3DMG movements and thus the experience is all around enjoyable in every aspect. There was one slight gameplay glitch in which I cut the limbs off the titan and he fell into a wall head first and got glitched into the wall. This prevented me from cutting at the titans neck to kill it which was a pretty bad thing to experience in a game where the sole purpose is to kill titans and the only way to kill titans is by slicing at the back of the neck.
Other than this glitch though; The gameplay in A.O.T. Wings of Freedom is phenomenal and one of the best gameplay experiences I’ve had in recent years.
Wings of Freedom has a truly great sound score however to me this is also the part of the game where it falls short of true greatness. As I previously stated; The game has a fantastic score of well produced music that really blends in with the style and tone of the Attack on Titan series combining Orchestral Music at times with the harsh and energetic style of fast paced rock music which has always been one of the truly great and unique things I’ve always taken away from Attack on Titan. The soundtrack in the game features some phenomenal music however some of the music I’ve heard in the show over my time from watching it that I really liked was absent from this game which was a true shame. Another thing that is pretty bad about this games music section is its lack of an English Dub which is really disappointing personally to me since I watched the anime with the English dub. The game instead opts to use the traditional Japanese voice cast who obviously do a great job however I have personally never been one for the Japanese dubs in terms of anime and so the lack of at least an option was really disappointing. Overall, The sound section of this game is great with a fantastic score however it is let down (in my personal opinion) by the use of only Japanese voice acting and the lack of some of the music from the anime however I still remain hopeful that they may release an English dub some day as a DLC or through an update similar to how it was done in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII.
Personally along with the gameplay; The Visuals in Wings of Freedom are my personal highlight and truly stand out from most games. The game goes for a Cel Shaded visual style however it is unlike most cel shading I have seen in the past with every character, enemy and location looking stunning and almost as though it was real life which I honestly thought was impossible with a cel-shaded art style. The cel-shading helps to portray the fact that this game is based off of an anime however it also does it in a way (very much like the anime) where through the use of the color and the style makes what should probably be a dark and depressing world actually very colorful and beautiful to look at. Each scene in the campaign is literally a scene by scene visual representation of the anime which to me as a fan of the show is stunning to watch and relive again with me actually controlling the characters. The blood and gore also look incredible in this game and truly gives you the feel that you are in this deadly world however because people can get squeamish with too much blood and gore; there is an option to turn off the gore in the options (it even asks you before you start the game) which I thought was a nice personal touch for those who can’t really stomach violence however at the same time; I also don’t really understand the point in this option given that if you are willing to buy a video game based on Attack on Titan (An anime with skinless and naked giants committing acts of cannibalism and eating humans); You should really know what to expect in terms of violence. Another feature; I really liked about this game is that it features a gallery mode which pretty much contains all collectibles in the game including bios into the characters, locations, equipment and enemies in the game aswell as featuring music, 3D Models of human characters and titans aswell as history and background insight into the world of A.O.T.
All in all, The visual side of things in A.O.T. Wings of Freedom is superb and one of the games selling points.
A.O.T. Wings of Freedom has a colossal (pardon the pun) amount of replay value with the game featuring Attack Mode; The campaign mode which should take you through the entire first season of the anime and beyond which should at the very least take you a few hours to complete. Once that is completed aswell there is the Expedition Mode in which you can task yourself with taking on multiple missions across different battlefields at different difficulties with the goal to try and be the best and get the best possible ranking. Then there is collectibles which you earn through playing the game regularly and then of course there is the trophies/achievements for the hunters out there who aim to be the best with each trophy/achievement being a test to your skills that you learn through the game. In addition to this, you can actually replay all previous missions and if you like killing titans as much as I do; then this should be able to provide you with even more hours of fun.
All in all, A.O.T. Wings of Freedom is personally one of the most enjoyable video game experiences I’ve had the pleasure of playing in recent years and is a game that I genuinely believe I may still be playing many years later. The game features the fantastic story that I fell in love with when I first saw the anime and then even proceeds to go beyond that. The gameplay is truly superb and the ultimate selling point the game has to offer with fast fluent gameplay in both maneuverability and combat aswell as many other features. The sound section is definitely one of the weaker points of the game to me but that’s truly based on the lack of some music and an English dub while the visuals are honestly breathtaking to look at along with hours of replay value.
Personally; I feel like the creators of this game truly respect the series and it’s history, world and characters and you can clearly see from the details put into this game just how much care, time and love they have put into this game which is very rarely seen in video games these days and with how close the game sticks to it’s source material and just how fun it is to play. It’s honestly in my top 5 games of 2016 to date and is truly a must buy for all gamers looking for a new and fresh video game idea aswell as Attack on Titan fans everywhere.
Score = 9.5/10
- Fantastic Story that goes further than the anime
- Phenomenal Gameplay that remains consistently fun
- The 3DMG is one of the best traversal methods in a video game ever
- Titan Gameplay is Extreme Fun
- Upgrading and level up systems are perfect
- Unique Character Skills
- Fantastic Soundtrack Score
- Beautiful Visuals that look like a living anime
- Scene for Scene with the show
- Gallery in the game gives insight into everything in the A.O.T. world
- Hours of Replay Value
- Combat and targeting simplistic yet works fluently
- Minor Glitches
- Lack of an English Dub
- Some music from the show missing
- For those uninterested; Gameplay could get repetitive
A.O.T. Wings of Freedom is available now from all good retailers for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, PC & Xbox One. Thanks go out to Tecmo Koei for supplying the game and assets used in this review. Be sure to let me know what you thought of the review in the comments section below and be sure to stay tuned to UGNN for all your gaming news and reviews and remember to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Review by Matthew McNamee