The first time I saw the opening to Attack on Titan -- with the cast swinging through the city and killing a titan -- my first thought was, "this would make for one hell of a video game." And while Attack on Titan: The Last Wings of Mankind does indeed make me feel awesome, it is a game that is far from polished.
Good -- Makes You Feel Like a Badass
While I enjoyed the Attack on Titan fan game, it tended to make me feel more like a child learning to walk than a titan-killing badass. The Last Wings of Mankind, however, seems built around the idea of making you feel as badass as possible at all times. Swinging through the city looks cool enough in its own right, but nothing beats how awesome you look when your swinging arcs take you mere inches from the ground.
But swinging height is not the only way the game dynamically changes. Based on your cutting angle, you perform different attacks -- from a simple double cut for a horizontal attack to a somersaulting buzz saw-like attack for a vertical one. Then, for defence, you have the ability to, at any time, become a spinning ball of death -- which can still be turned into an attack if your timing is good enough.
All of these attacks are then accented with the occasional slow motion money-shot in the moments before your attack strikes home. If nothing else, this game completely succeeds in making you feel like the single biggest badass in the Attack on Titan universe.
Good -- Changing Up the Gameplay
Another strong point in favour of The Last Wings of Mankind is how it constantly changes up its gameplay. Often this is done by changing the environments. In the city, you can use your manoeuvre gear freely to swing wherever you'd like. In the fields, without any buildings to attach to, you are forced to rely on your horse for speed, and you can only attack easily from a low angle. Lastly, in the forests, you can have a horse as well as tall trees to swing from -- opening up even more combat possibilities.
Then, in some of Eren's levels, you are able to play as his titan form and levels become a sort of simplistic 3D brawler while in the game's "world mode" (which we'll get more into in the next section). You're also given an upgradable, portable cannon which adds all kinds of new strategic possibilities. All in all, The Last Wings of Mankind is a game that stays interesting through its entire campaign by constantly introducing new environments, gameplay features, and mission objectives.
Mixed -- Short Game Unless You've Got Three Willing Friends
In the single player mode, you play about a dozen missions for Eren, Mikasa, and Armin each. Some of the missions are unique to a single character while other missions will need to be done three times -- once as each of them. But even with reused missions, the story mode in The Last Wings of Mankind is far from long. Personally, I beat story mode in less than five hours.
However, there is a second part to the game: the "world mode." There is no plot. Rather, it is simply a series of challenge missions. As you play, you make money and find rare items that can be used to make better weapons and manoeuvre gear. While there are a lot of missions, many of these -- namely the more challenging (and rewarding) missions -- require you to spend points to play. And this means grinding by playing the same missions over and over ad infinitum to get those points.
However, this mode is not really designed to play alone (as I did). Rather, it is meant to be played co-op with three of your closest friends -- a light version of Monster Hunter crossed with Attack on Titan, if you will. And while it may, in fact, be great fun to play in a group, alone it gets boring rather quickly.
Bad -- QTE-Based Combat
Let me be perfectly clear on this. Whenever you attack a titan you will be confronted with a quicktime event. Every. Single. Time.
For this QTE you are presented with a thick red circle and a much thinner, constantly shrinking circle. When the shrinking circle is inside the red circle, you hit the attack button. If you succeed, then you successfully cut on your first try -- be that a wound to stun or a wound to kill. If you don't, it could take three of four more failed QTE tries until you cut through.
While it does tend to look quite cool -- as I mentioned in this article's first section -- and works well enough as a combat mechanic, it's hard to see past the fact that you are really just playing a timing mini-game over and over again.
Bad -- Learning Curve and Plateau
You could say that over the course of my life, I have played more than a few video games. In fact, it's been years since I played a game where I couldn't just start it up and be proficient at it within the first two or three minutes -- and then I played The Last Wings of Mankind. It took me more than an hour before I was approaching anything that can be called competence.
However, once I did get the hang of playing it, I was nearly unstoppable. I went from taking several tries to hamstring and then kill a single titan to never missing a single QTE as I mass-murdered waves of them in a single, unbroken combo. That seems to be how the game is: you are either still figuring out how to play or you are sailing through the game practically unopposed. It feels like there is no middle ground.
Bad -- More Than A Little Glitchy
As fun as the game can be and as good as it can look, The Last Wings of Mankind is still a game that is brimming with glitches. I routinely find myself confronted by hit detection errors -- where despite passing the QTE, I miss the attack entirely or the QTE ends prematurely before the shrinking circle even gets into the red one.
Then come the times where I have been stuck on walls or even inside titans, wasting precious seconds and thus causing me to become far more intimate with a giant hand than I would have liked. Add on top of these glitches an uncooperative, difficult to control camera that is glitchy in its own right, and you can imagine how annoying the game can become at times.
Attack on Titan: The Last Wings of Mankind is a mixed bag of a game. While it definitely succeeds in making you feel like a character in the anime, the obvious lack of polish (and the resulting glitches/camera issues) tarnish it somewhat. Moreover, with a short campaign and often boring, grind-filled single-player mission mode, this is a game that requires three friends on hand for you to really get all you can out of it. However, all that said, if you are a diehard Attack on Titan fan, you will probably enjoy this game despite its shortcomings.
Attack on Titan: The Last Wings of Mankind was released on December 5, 2013 for the Nintendo 3DS in Japan. There is currently no word on a Western release.