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Matters of Import: Grappling With Attack On Titan: The Last Wings Of Mankind

Posted by Kerry Brunskill

Or Shingeki no Kyojin: Jinrui Saigo no Tsubasa, to Japanese players

Considering the intense critical and commercial acclaim Hajime Isayama's Attack on Titan has been receiving, the emergence of a game based on the events portrayed in the anime and manga series was more of a question of “when”, rather than “if”. The more surprising news is that the game’s actually quite good, and a long way off being a bare-minimum, cash-in effort.

For the uninitiated, Attack on Titan - or Shingeki no Kyojin, to use its Japanese name — is set in a world where mankind cowers behind massive walls, living in fear of giant humanoid monsters known as Titans. These beasts may externally resemble people, but they seem to possess a very basic intelligence and — more worryingly — are hell-bent on eating humans for fun. Central characters Eren Yeager, Mikasa Ackerman and Armin Arlert join the ranks of the army which is tasked with defending the vital walls, and they learn to use the 3D Manoeuvring Gear — gas-powered grappling hooks which allow soldiers to take to the air and target the only weak area of the Titans: the back of the neck.

There are two modes of play in Attack on Titan: The Last Wings of Mankind. “Story Mode” follows the plot of the anime (which in turn is based on the earlier manga), using a mixture of stills and cutscenes to fill in the parts where you’re not slicing deep into the necks of the massive, hulking Titans. To make sure players get the full experience, this mode forces you to complete missions as Eren, Mikasa and Armin, with additional characters Levi and Sasha available as free downloadable DLC. “World Mode” frees the game from all plot requirements and allows players to create their very own character to tackle a variety of unique missions with, either alone or optionally with other players. This new character gains experience, money and items as missions are cleared, and this can be used to customise the character and their equipment to the player’s liking.

Story mode starts off with a series of basic tutorial missions, appropriately enough recounting lead character Eren Yeager’s time in training to become an effective Titan killer. These brief missions teach players the essentials, such as how to move around quickly using the 3D Manoeuvre Gear, how to pick up and use the helpful items that are occasionally found in boxes or lying on the ground and — most importantly of all – how to properly attack Titans.

Going straight for the Titan's vulnerable neck will often see you swatted away and frantically limping for cover (or worse – eaten alive), so it’s best to incapacitate them first – hacking off a leg or severing their Achilles’ tendon tends to do the trick, although slashing at their face can work in a pinch, too. Titans regenerate lost limbs and heal non-fatal damage quickly, so it’s important to grapple-wire your way to the back of their head as soon as possible — ideally before you’ve even hit the ground — and then perform a critical strike to finally finish them off.

The critical strike system is quite simple on the surface – while you’re being reeled in towards a Titan’s weak point at breakneck speed (pressing the Y button) you initiate an attack (with the X button) which brings up a red target circle and a thin blue timing circle that shrinks towards the centre. As soon as this thin blue circle is within the red area it will change to yellow, and that’s when you need to hit X again to perform a critical strike. The further away you are from your target when you start the attack, the larger the strike area and the longer you have to perform the move — but the catch is that this also gives the Titan more time to react and knock you down.

Adventurous players can make things more difficult for themselves by using spinning strikes – far more powerful than normal attacks, but very difficult to pull off correctly. Once you do get the hang of controlling the 3DS Manoeuvring Gear and slaying Titans there’s a very satisfying flow to the missions, although the sheer size and strength of your enemies means that even when you feel like you’re dominating the game, you’re only ever one mistake away from utter disaster.

There was a danger that the game would soon wear its central premise thin – after all, there’s only so much Titan attacking anyone can take – but the mission-based structure keeps game sessions quick, focused and urgent. Once you know what you’re doing, a successful mission should generally take less than five minutes from start to finish, with some early ones coming in at the sub-sixty seconds mark after you've got a bit of practise under your belt. Missions fall into a few standard types, ranging from the expected “defeat the Titans” gig to more strategic battles that require players to defend a particular point or rescue injured allies. Eren’s dramatic Titan transformation gets some screen time too, and while these segments aren't as refined as the regular gameplay, developer Spike Chunsoft has done a great job of communicating the raw power Eren has when he’s in this form; knocking Titan heads clean off feels as vicious and weighty as it should do.

In short, Attack on Titan is an unexpected pleasure. Navigating the environments you’re placed in using the 3D Manoeuvring Gear is frenetic and fun, downing Titans is exciting and seeing other team members rushing past to attack or coming over to help you out brings a sense of immersion to mankind's epic struggle — even if your single player allies are largely just for show. Mission gradings add some always-welcome replayability and the detailed breakdown at the end of each successful mission lets you see exactly where you needed to improve. Cap it all off with an encyclopaedia that logs every unique Titan you come across and you've got something that’s a good game in its own right as well as an impeccable adaptation of a popular anime license. We can only hope that the interest in the series outside Japan leads to a localisation so international fans can enjoy it too.

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User Comments (54)

tchaten

#2

tchaten said:

I bought this game for my Japanese 3DS LL last week. Truly fantastic - so thrilling taking down Titans.

Rather expensive now - around $60 - blows my mind that in Japan 3DS game prices range so much including home console prices.

Bulbousaur

#3

Bulbousaur said:

I watched the anime a few weeks ago and really enjoyed it, so if this game ever comes to the West I'd be sure to pick it up. Too bad even it if ever comes out here (which to be honest is unlikely), it most likely will have to wait for the English dub to finish, and that could take years...

B3ND3R

#6

B3ND3R said:

I really really hope this comes to the west.. My cousins and I would have a blast cooperatively taking down titans :) love the anime, and would love to play this game even more!

Cinaclov

#8

Cinaclov said:

Admittedly there isn't much in the article (thankyou by the way, I'm only about halfway through the series), but it might be worth putting a spoiler warning somewhere, if only for the one paragraph second from the end discussing Eren.

Bulbousaur

#10

Bulbousaur said:

@B3ND3R I ment the anime dub, not the game voice acting. So far there's been no announcement of the localisation of anything Attack On Titan as far as I know, so we could wait years for the anime dub to end, and only then could the game come out since it has the entire story in it.

edcomics

#14

edcomics said:

Gotta have this in North America. I love the anime and manga. Can't get enough. The Flash game was really hard for me, but this battle system looks a bit easier to handle.

Volmun

#15

Volmun said:

I hope we get this - its funny my frend was watching thisband i sed jokingly that itd make a fun game (as to me the animay looked alot like Ragnrok Oddasiy)

Luna-Harmony

#17

Luna-Harmony said:

why why why is everything on 3DS we want to play ahems on a big screen so don't get a stiff neck all the time. If only N pumped more into wii u. Or made a 3ds tv box that worked with big screen and wii u game pad worked as bottom screen on 3DS.

JuanitoShet

#18

JuanitoShet said:

I love the show and the manga. I wouldn't even mind getting an imported copy from Japan, since I've been studying Japanese since 2012. :)

Randomname19

#19

Randomname19 said:

This game deserves to be released on all consoles.It doesn't have any 3DS specific content aside from the 3D effect so it shouldn't be hard.

King47

#21

King47 said:

I really didn't like the anime, but I wouldn't mind if this comes to the west. I will have to wait for reviews though, I don't like the series and I usually don't like games based on shows and movies.

Kaze_Memaryu

#22

Kaze_Memaryu said:

Nope, no titan stuff for me. Didn't like the animé, didn't like the manga - I don't see a reason to like this, either.

Silver_August

#23

Silver_August said:

Ugly graphics for 3DS standards, repetitive looking gameplay, limited audio clips and cutscenes straight from the anime that immedately make the action in the game not look nearly as cool - This for all intensive purposes is a cash grab designed to keep hype for the anime up while they stall out for season 2

...Season 2 potentially shooting itself in the foot because if its a 26 episode season it'll be fully caught up to the manga and because its a monthly series they'll either be reduced to 12 episode seasons (not a bad thing) a year, or wait 2 years or until the series is done, OR worst possibility, make up its own ending and pull a Full Metal Alchemist.

Stu13

#24

Stu13 said:

They'll have to design outfits for the Titans if this is ever gonna see a release in NA.

QuickSilver88

#25

QuickSilver88 said:

@Luna-Harmony Nintendo could easily make a 3DS emulator for WiiU and then allow us to use digital purchased games on either sysyem and move our saves thru a cloud. Once upon a time they had the GBA player for Cube and that did a pretty good job emulating gba and allowing you to plug in carts and even do cable link with another gba......I really think in a future generation Nintendo is going to have a single portable system with HDMI connectivity so its home and away and that is how they could rule the world again!

TheLilK98

#29

TheLilK98 said:

I love the anime(I think it's getting a second season soon), so I'm really hoping this gets localized. Doubtful though.

B3ND3R

#31

B3ND3R said:

@PvtOttobot the same could be said about a lot of games... Like megaman, should be called jump n shoot man, just jumpin and shootin!!! The difference between this and the flash game is night and day :p the flash game involves actually aiming with the mouse and understanding physics, this is more of a monster-hunter-esque actioner.. Except Attack on Titan.

PvtOttobot

#34

PvtOttobot said:

@B3ND3R My point exactly, it's an attack. on Titans. No game has a person flying through the air with a hookshot and killing naked man-eating giants exept these two, therefore they are very similar.

KimimiStaff

#39

Kimimi said:

@Coldfirex44 It's spelled with a "Y" in the game and on various other official websites (Crunchyroll/Good Smile for example), so even though "J" makes more sense I thought it best to leave the spelling as-is. :)

CrimsonFire

#41

CrimsonFire said:

Look's like it's just okay game play wise. I can see myself playing this just because i did watch all of AoT

Nick255

#43

Nick255 said:

It will most likely not come to NA, just Japan, the Europe, and Australia. I mean they can't even bring Super Mario 3 to the 3DS/Wii U virtual console in the US so what makes you think it will happen with this game?

Blacksquad

#45

Blacksquad said:

Definitely buying this if ever it gets an international release..If not well then hope ebay amazon etc. is my last resort :(

DarrelltheJ

#46

DarrelltheJ said:

I'm actually surprised people like the game so much. I loved the anime, but watching gameplay made it look so so sooooo boring. I guess I'll just have to try it.

tchaten

#47

tchaten said:

@Silver_August Having played the game to completion I can tell you it is one of the prettiest 3DS games out there - especially with 3D turned on - it is right up there with Monster Hunter 4 - don't bash what you haven't played in person. 3DS screen caps/videos never do the game justice on your big computer monitor :(

Silver_August

#48

Silver_August said:

@tchaten I'm sorry, but that is simply not true. Kid Icarus is one of the prettiest games on the 3DS, Pokemon X/Y are some of the prettiest games for the 3ds, this has ugly, UGLY low poly titans, character models that frankly look generic and I don't care what you say, those cables look UGLY, they're not actual cables, they're a flat texture and the camera exposes that when you're panning around them.

Also are you saying I'm not allowed to GIVE MY OPINION until I've spent money on a product I don't want?

Unless this got an English release I am NEVER going to be able to play this game and even if and when it does get released in English, its graphics will be even MORE outdated because it would take at-least 6-10 months for it to reach our shores.

Bottom line, this game is still a cashgrab that was made quickly and designed to keep hype for the franchisee while it waits for season 2, fans will eat it up because I've rarely found one who isn't just...absolutely blind to the flaws of the series, but this is who that game is for because they won't see the sloppy textures and boring gameplay, its fanservice and I have no problem with that, its just the fans (much like MLP X_x) that ruin it for me

tchaten

#49

tchaten said:

@Silver_August don't mean to offend - 3DS games look like crap unless you are looking at it on the actual system - this is true for most 3DS games - not trying to bash you or say your opinion is invalid - just stating a pretty well known fact about the look of games on the 3DS and how looking at it on the device is a very different thing.

Silver_August

#50

Silver_August said:

@tchaten Perhaps, but given the material, the fact half these battles are in open barren fields/towns with out many (if any) other objects on screen or even present... they could've made the titans look better, the fact the foot is a lump of rectangle with the body shape textured in, its like.. they could've spent more time really making the character models stand out more because we know the 3ds is capable of this - this isnt the DS where we went along with Mario's hands being stuck in a fist because they couldn't give him fingers,

That's where I feel they could've held off on the quick release to make the game extra special, because I FANTASTIC AOT game is possible, it really is - it's essentially God of War 3 if you focus purely on the part where your swinging off giants and killing them, hell it could even take cues from shadow of the Colossus, in fact it kind of does when you consider combat on a horse...

But eh, I'm a big fan of Jojo and even the Jojo fighting game suffered from not enough time in the oven, alas least this game isn't so bad that even hard core AOT fans immediately see it sucks and feel ripped off.

Metafalica

#53

Metafalica said:

I wouldn't mind buying this if it gets translated. Someone above mentioned only to translate the text and thats awesome if they would ^^ I prefer that over some cheesy dub voice actor who cant even say the names right. And before someone bash about dubs I should say yeah not all dubs are bad but the majority of what I have experinced are somewhat godawfull -.-
And btw, the anime was great :D

thelastgogeta

#54

thelastgogeta said:

@CaptainSquid
Levi and Sasha's stories (and additional items) are DLC, but free DLC for many months. They were recently extended till February 28th (http://www.siliconera.com/2014/01/16/spike-chunsoft-extends-attack-titan-free-dlc-february ), making it one of the better DLC policies as few people aren't going to buy a copy in the first 3 months.

It would be nice if they just keep the stuff up forever as it is clearly being used as a means to bait us into buying early, even if it doesn't need you to buy the first print or second print. It is just an unlock code as you expect taking up only 2 blocks or so.

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