If you like fist-bumps, a ravaged Shanghai, and hints of beastiality, do I have a game for you. Hunter and I started playing AoT:tFD when it first came out (January of 2010) and finally beat it. It’s a fictionally preposterous game and a relatively standard shooter with cover mechanics otherwise. The things that make it stand out – the moral choices, the gun customization, the mask customization – are more satisfying the more emotional investment you put into them.
The moral choices are kind of absurd. They’re so often a clear choice between moral and immoral, yet the outcome vignettes seem specifically to twist your choice into something different that, as a player, you feel a bit insulted. They’re interesting attempts at storytelling, but the fact that they don’t affect anything other than the vignette directly afterward weakens them to these one-off moments that almost are there to trick the player into feeling bad about their choice. One choice we made, though, concerning a really cool kid with a helmet, will always stick with me.
The gun customization is fun, but surfaces a problem we ran into often. It’s very hard to know whether we should keep upgrading our current gun or to buy a new one. The base stats of the new gun may be worse, but it’s hard to tell what upgrades may be available for it without buying it. Also, there are several parts that seem to have in-game effects that aren’t mentioned in the actual upgrade menu. Lastly, the fact that there are only auto-save checkpoints mean that customizing your gun (which can take a while) and then dying means you lose all the customization work you just did.
That said, walking around with a gold-plated shotgun with a bayonet attached to the end and a silencer (what?) is pretty pimp. So, there’s that.
Mask customization is by far the most satisfying thing that I experienced in the game. Being able to create a mask on the game’s website using a mouse and shapes meant that we were able to take Salem and Rios through the game wearing Buddy and TOBOR masks (from the MySims franchise, don’t you know?), making our sarcastic buddy romp through a devastated Shanghai go from simply weird to a Kafka-esque level of absurdity. Making the masks took a few hours to get the details right, but it was more than worth it. Going through the game with the default masks would have made it half as fun.
It’s a wacky game. The overall plot was unintelligible to us, the dialog was funny but hard to hear over the loud and constant gunfire, and certain sections of stages seemed to have an infinite number of enemies. But we got to blow up Shanghai and play rock-paper-scissors whenever we wanted. So. You know. That’s that.