Sony

Attack on Titan (PS4)

attacktitan

It’s unfair to call Attack on Titan unfinished. So are the source manga and anime, leaving the lore fragmented. So it goes with modern teen sci-fi. It’s Harry Potter’s fault, probably, outing the idea to the likes of Hunger Games and Divergent, then this Japanese story of giant orange people eaters. An Asian Gulliver’s Travels where the focus sits on the population of Lilliput, or maybe so if the story pans out as such. Again, it’s not done.

The tale is specifically foreign. No guns, just swords. Tacticians and intellect over brute force; those ideas sit in Japanese pop fiction. Godzilla isn’t dispatched with missiles. Instead, a scientist concocts an unorthodox weapon which suffocates the monster. Same goes for Attack on Titan, where the unusual system of cords and swords propel specially trained soldiers toward the Titan’s weak point.

Suitably weird (if likely more of a culture shock), Attack on Titan elicits a unique sensation of gliding and flying. Jet about on cables, making the effort to establish positions and eliminate genitalia-less giant monsters.

The background setting is technologically deficient, an alternate early 1900s without cars or fighter jets. Whether the appearance of Titans knocked humanity back into this state remains unclear in the videogame adaptation. Either way, the essence is of War of the Worlds, where H.G. Wells imagined late 1800s Britain ransacked by superior beings. Until swords-and-cables were developed, Attack on Titan’s population built walls to keep their foes away. It didn’t work. Take note Donald Trump.

Beginning life in manga, tossed into an anime, and then into a film, each translation has quirks. So too does the game, lifting chunks of the story, but remaining deficient in character. More important here is capturing the zest of zipping through streets and locking onto a target. Although naturally imprecise – involving a tricky maneuvering of 3D space, lock-on systems, a trio of buttons, timing, and speed – in time, it meshes.

Much as the soldiers themselves train on the battlefield, so too does this translate into a workable videogame. Although bothersome when Titans cluster, systems hold together, ample enough to justify their repetition, helped with typical leveling/crafting concepts. Developer W-Force knows how to best alleviate sameness after a decade plus of Dynasty Warriors development.

Without a core narrative, or rather, without a clear one, Attack on Titan’s particulars suffer. Abnormal Titans, named as such for their erratic behavior, prance around with a dainty walk. It’s equivalent to bigoted gay comedy in the ’70s or ’80s. Japan’s trouble with civil rights and acceptance leaves a crude feeling. Intent or not, the appearance reads as meditated, doubly so when paired with the “abnormal” moniker.

Like with much of Attack on Titan to date, the Abnormals are part of the saga’s unfinished state. Although typical in length for B-level software, the sense of being episodic isn’t lost. Still, pleasingly violent and nicely suited to a vintage sense of action.

4/5

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