E3 2016: ‘Attack on Titan’ Impressions

Spoiler warning: The demo I played for the Attack on Titan game at E3 takes place within the first five to six minutes of the anime’s sixth episode. For those who have yet to watch the series, or read the manga, be wary of spoilers ahead. And for goodness sake, go watch the anime if you haven’t already.

It’s a normal day within the haven known as Wall Rose. Humans, or what remains of their race, are going about their normal day, but everyone is suddenly greeted by a swarm of Titans, giant humanoid beings made of people’s nightmares. It’s up to the Survey Corp. — or Scout Regiment, as it’s known to others — to defend humanity from any Titan threats.

Enter Mikasa, one of the primary and badass characters in Attack on Titan, the character I assumed the role of during my demo. After watching a cinematic of Mikasa taking down a Titan eyeing a crowd of people for its dinner, which nearly mirrored an epic moment in the anime, I proceeded to use my 3D maneuvering gear, the device that gives the Survey Corp. a Spider-Man-like ability to traverse through environments, and blades to defend the city.

All of my time was spent slashing my way through Titans as different threats popped up throughout the city. For the most part, combat and slinging my way through buildings with the 3D gear was much more fluid than I was expecting. People, understandably, think of Spider-Man with the 3D gear, and the game replicates that feeling well. Finding the right angle and timing my use of the gear followed by a midair boost was thrilling. The game even had you sharpening your blades and replacing the gas canisters in your 3D gear, which was a nice touch.

The controls take a bit to get used to. Playing on Xbox One at Microsoft’s E3 booth, X was used for 3D maneuvering gear, Y was used to attack and RB was used to switch between traversal and locking on to Titans. You also have different body parts to target, so you can slice off an arm or two if someone is about to be eaten. And a well-timed strike just before you reach your targeted limb is not only key to taking down an enemy, but immensely satisfying.

While the combat and traversal elements complemented each other well, I didn’t feel the one thing Attack on Titan’s show drills into viewers: fear. Every Titan, even a small one by itself, is a threat in the world of Attack on Titan — and never mind the unique ones with intelligence and abilities. Remember when Eren and his squad was wiped out by the fifth episode, and perhaps more importantly, how the Titans did it? That’s a moment in my entertainment history I will never forget because it showed no one was safe in this world — before you learned Eren could transform into a Titan of course — and why these creatures were truly frightening.

These feelings were not instilled in me during the demo, not even once as I was getting a feel for the controls. Every Titan felt like a purposefully dumbed down, dawdling target for the sake of giving me a cool takedown moment. Sure, Titans in general aren’t the most intelligent monsters out there, but they sure wouldn’t have given me as many chances to let me slice them limb by limb as they did. And further diminishing the immersion were noticeable stutters in the Titans’ animations.

Ultimately, I’m my interest has been piqued in Attack on Titan after my 15 to 20 minutes with it. It does a great job of making the player feel like they are a part of the brave men and women who comprise the Survey Corp., but I also hope developer Omega Force can remedy issues such as unintelligent AI and sluggish animations before it hits North America and Europe on Aug. 30. and Aug. 26 respectively.

And as a warning, I was also told the game goes into plot territory beyond the first season. So, if, like me, you are only keeping up with the anime, you might want to use your 3D maneuvering gear and launch yourself far away from spoilers.