Since it was announced, Titanfall has been met with enthusiasm, eagerness and enough hype to cover 10 games. The problem with games receiving all that hype and attention is that it becomes nearly impossible to reach those lofty expectations and we end up with a disappointment and dreams of what could have been. Titanfall not only matches the expectations of the fans, but exceeds them and cements itself in place as the pinnacle of the FPS genre.
The story takes place in the midst of a planet-spanning war between two competing factions; the corporation-based IMC and the civilian military. The IMC are resource miners who have come to the Frontier for the riches that it holds, while the civilian military of the Frontier are not keen on letting some corporation take their homes so easily.
Titanfall’s campaign is probably the least impressive part of the package. Even after playing the campaign with each faction, I don’t feel any more engrossed in the world than I would have just spending that time playing in the ordinary multiplayer lobbies. The fact that story is told in voice-overs from your superior officer. while the matches themselves are running mean it is hard to concentrate on both the on-screen action and the narration at the same time. Also the fact that there aren’t branching paths or consequences for failing missions mean that the story isn’t all that compelling.
Titanfall’s gameplay is best described as the next generation of FPS gaming. Combining traditional elements from CoD, Battlefield and Halo into one seamless experience has allowed Titanfall to strip off the flaws of its predecessors and step into the light as a well-balanced, extremely fun, and over the top shooter experience.
Unlike most FPS games that try to be grounded in some kind of reality (Halo excluded), Titanfall combines double jumping and parkour movements with the traditional run and gun style of CoD to make for an experience like no other. You can run up to a building, double jump and then run along its walls to get to higher ground in the time it takes for a player to reload. Keeping track of your surroundings is imperative as not only does this style of control open up new tactical advantages for players, but it means that you have to be watching your back at all times.
There are fifteen game maps present at launch, and each of them can drastically change how you play. Not only are they large maps horizontally, but the control scheme has necessitated a strong emphasis on verticality in maps. Not Large decrepit mansions, and looming skyscrapers are more than just the backdrop here, instead they are part of your playground. Climbing to the top of a building, just to fire off a couple rounds at some grunts below, then leaping onto the back of an enemy titan is an amazing feeling and one that is definitely unique to Titanfall.
Balance is the name of the game here in Titanfall. At first glance you would think the giant, mechanical behemoths would immediately crush the foot soldiers beneath them. While there is a distinct advantage to riding your Titan, it doesn’t make you indestructible and the fact that every Pilot is armed with an anti-Titan weapon means that instead of being a motorised god, Titans are extra weapons at the players disposal. The balance stretches to other gameplay elements too, including the Smart Pistol.
The Smart Pistol is a gun that without any aiming, will immediately target and lock onto enemies, allowing you to kill multiple squad members with the single pull of a trigger. This gun looks like it would be the be-all and end-all of weapons and break the game, but in actuality the fact that the gun takes considerable time to aim and lock in on enemies drops it down to a useable level alongside the game’s other weapons. Again, it all comes back to “balance,” and that is something that Titanfall has smashed out of the park.
Each of the Titans that players have at their disposal share this same type of gameplay balance. You have your jack of all trades Titan in the Atlas, but on opposite ends of the spectrum you have the slow yet tanky Ogre, and on the other end the light and nimble Stryder. While the Orgre can tank a barrage of hits before going down, its slow movement means that a Stryder can run circles around it. It is a fun kind of rock-paper-scissors scenario, especially once you start equipping your Titan (and Pilot) with the variety of weapons and optional add-ons that you get for leveling up.
Titanfall doesn’t feature any kind of single-player experience; even the game’s relatively short campaign is a multiplayer experience. Playing as two sides of the competing factions in a war make for an interesting take on the campaign experience, but sadly it is a concept that just falls flat. More players are opting to go straight for the more traditional multiplayer modes which means finding players for your campaign can take time, and in some cases have you replaying certain chapters over and over again. Not only that, but it forces players into an online play session even when there is no internet available. It is a minor hassle, but all in all this novel concept doesn’t quite get there. Although it will be interesting to see where developers take the idea in the future.
Disappointingly, Titanfall is let down by the lack of a few key features that in this day and age really should be standard for every multiplayer experience. The first and most prominent of these is the fact that you cannot make a private lobby. It is impossible to gather 12 of your own friends together for intense 6 v 6 combat, instead you are practically forced to challenge random strangers on the internet. For a game, and a console built around their online components, the simple lack of this feature is appalling.
Visuals & Audio
There have been some complaints on the internet about Titanfall running (at launch) at 792p resolution on Xbox One (especially since the PC version can run at full 1080p with the right hardware) but when you actually play the game you really wont notice it. The 792p resolution allows Titanfall to run at a consistent 60fps with no drop down. Running at a smooth 60FPS is an amazing feat on its own, considering the size of the maps, and the amount of chaotic action that can be happening on-screen at any given time. A screen can be filled with up to 12 Titans and still run perfectly fine.
The maps themselves are all different from one another, and they tell a story all on their own. You really feel like this space-war is happening, and the crumbling buildings play a big part in that. It is especially interesting when you move to some of the big-city maps that have been untouched by the war. Titanfall’s world is told through the maps moreso than the voice overs at the beginning and end of each of its campaign missions.
Speaking of voice-overs, they are the dialogue that you will here through the game, and they keep you posted on various important things – namely how long till your Titan is ready for deployment. Outside of campaign mode, the voice overs are infrequent enough to keep the gameplay flowing and not distract the player. You very quickly learn that when you hear that voice coming through your screen, that you are mere moments away from dropping down your sweet mechanical machine and raising some real hell.
Titanfall has all the makings of a fantastic game. It looks great, it handles like a dream and it brings enough new to a formula that was frankly going stale. It has revolutionised the FPS genre in a way that other games have been too shy to do. Titanfall has its problems, and is missing some key features that are absolute requirements for the genre, but what is here is without a doubt incredible.
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