You narrowly evade a cluster of rockets fired from a lumbering, metallic Titan intent on death and destruction. Wall-running, you jump back and fourth from the nearby surfaces gaining momentum in a bid to gain a vantage point over the machine. Lunging towards the roof of a smouldering building you manage to clamber directly above your gigantic opponent . Without a moment’s hesitation you sprint before taking a leap of faith onto the shoulders of the colossal, pursuer below. Upon impact, instinct immediately kicks in and you tear open a panel on its vulnerable neck exposing an intricate nervous system. Drawing your rifle you empty a full magazine into the beast at point-blank range. The titan collapses to its needs spraying up a shower of dust and rubble. Before you can run clear from the danger it enters its pre-coded, self-destruct mode and detonates with an enormous blast thrusting you high into the air.
It’s not nearly enough to kill you however, and you land back in the middle of the battlefield-ready to fight.
This is Titanfall.
Having absolutely no hands on experience with the modern Xbox One and PC versions, my experience is wholly that of the Xbox 360 and it was a great. Despite the concerns, ominous delays and radio silence, Bluepoint Games did the console a service by doing so well a port. The game runs and looks just as well as its fellow 360 compatriots.
Truthfully, prior to delving into Titanfall I was anxious. The wider world was already in love with the game for the past month and the version I was unwrapping was the weakest of the three. To top it off no one had heard a thing about it: no trailers or screenshots, just the fact that Bluepoint Games were handling it. Bluepoint being a company renowned for its ports and HD updates of games, like the God Of War Collection and the Shadow Of The Colossus HD remake. The first hour or so of my experience only raised my suspicions. Constant server disconnections from every game before they even begin, crippling lag and disorientating texture pop-in where whole environments seemed to appear out of thin air, only to disappear again moments later.
Beginning to lose hope I started the campaign, which is merely games of Attrition (a regular team deathmatch, where all kills go towards earning your next Titan faster) and Hardpoint (a traditional conquest mode where you have to hold 3 points on a map) with a neat window dressing consisting of video chatter between faction leaders and short pre-match cutscenes. The story is simple; two sides are fighting for a new cluster of planets called the “New Frontier”. The Militia are in a struggle for freedom, while the IMC are looking to regain control of the warring lands and bring peace and order. How you play through both campaigns make absolutely no difference, whether you mop the floors of the enemy or visa-versa it all unfolds the exact same way. While all the issues had been resolved I felt slightly disappointed by the lacklustre campaign. Although, I only felt this post-gameplay. Zipping around maps, picking off people and hopping into my personal walking tank felt so awesome, I had to pull myself from the game and remember my responsibilities and resume playing with a “critical analysis”.
The game controls as you’d expect a modern FPS to feel. Except you have a jetpack, and giant mechs. The parkour element is delightfully simple, jump while mid-air to double jump, continue to sprinting while on a wall and you’ll wall-run. The game leaves it up to the player to chain together runs to manoeuvre the map quickly and efficiently. At first the maps seem uninteresting: ruined cityscape, deserts and air bases. Take the time to explore and you’ll discover routes via a well executed run that will take you from one end of a map to the other without you ever having to set foot on the ground. It’s here where Titanfall stands tall above other shooters. Pilots also have abilities like temporary: cloaking, a speed boost and x-ray vision which in addition to Burn Cards (unlockable boosts that last a one life such as unlimited grenades or reduced Titan build time) can easily tip the playing field if used correctly.
The Titans themselves essentially function like a bigger, badder you. Minus the mobility. Encounters with other Titans are exceptionally tense be it one on one or more. Strafing one another while trading blows and lead, constantly trying to bluff the other Titan into thinking they can reload only to spring back on the offensive. Titan fights are always fun because everyone gets a Titan no matter what. Each player starts on a 3 minute “build” time in which earning kills against player-controlled pilots or (in Attrition mode) kills against AI-controlled Grunts (who populate the games as traditional cannon fodder) will shave time off. The moment when you call in your Titan and watch it fall from space in a fire ball, causing a shockwave upon landing is breathtaking. Even when your Titan is doomed be it from gunfire or enemy pilots “rodeoing” your Titan (riding on your back) you’re given the option to eject. Which in itself is a beautiful moment as you tap X, look down, pull a lever and get ejected high above the battlefield.
With three types of Titans: The Ogre, a hulking giant, slow but hardy. The Atlas, the jack of all trades, strong and agile making it the perfect support unit. Finally, my favourite: the Stryder a weak but highly nimble Titan, which I used to run circles around my opponents while firing in grenades from a comically oversized grenade launcher following a salvo of rockets mounted on my shoulder to finish the job. During my time, I never once felt safe, or invulnerable. Everyone has a fair shot against each other, and they can come from all angles! While this may sound suicidal if you ever see a cluster of Titans slugging it out in a real-time game of “Rock-Em-Sock-Em Robots”, sprint right into the chaos. Pilots can create havoc just as easily by mounting the Titans or engaging with their Anti-Titan weapons. Here’s a tip: Titans are walking targets, so are you if you’re in one. Upon calling down a Titan, set it to “Guard Mode” by pressing down on the D-pad, it will draw the attention from every enemy allowing you to slip behind enemy lines.
To come down from this high I have but one more complaint: the variety. Titanfall is a multiplayer-only game but it has a very limited number of gamemodes, clocking in currently at four. Attrition: which is to kill as many of the enemy as possible INCLUDING the grunts. Pilot hunter: kill as many enemys EXCLUDING the grunts as possible. Capture the flag: self explanatory?( Although I must say this mode is excellent for finding the fastest routes through maps, trust me, you’ll need them). And finally: Last Titan Standing which pits everyone in a Titan at once, if your Titan explodes you will not get it back and if you die your dead until the next round. After over 14 hours played, I found myself getting fatigued of what it had to offer.
Regardless of the early latency issues, the lacklustre campaign and the lack of substantial gamemodes, Titanfall is a game that must be experienced. Darting around the map or stomping around in GIANT ROBOT WITH GIANT GUNS is worth the price of admission alone. Respawn has promised future additions of gamemodes down the line, and if your looking for some time to kill, please, look no further than Titanfall.
[easyreview title=”The Arcade Verdict” cat1title=”Campaign” cat1detail=”9 Attrition and Hardpoint matches with window dressing in the form of additional chatter pre and mid match” cat1rating=”6 out of 10″ cat2title=”Gameplay” cat2detail=”Run, wall run, jump, double jump, drive a giant mech. Worth the price of admission alone. Totally unique in a FPS.” cat2rating=”10 out of 10″ cat3title=”Game Modes” cat3detail=”Only four game modes, all of which are the ones you’d expect” cat3rating=”7 out of 10″ overall=”7 out of 10″]