The Titanfall we received in March, 2014 is not the same Titanfall we play today. Today’s Titanfall is what we should have received many months ago.
Taking a few steps back in time here, Titanfall is Jason West and Vince Zampella’s new baby, developed by their newly formed company Respawn Entertainment after a fall-out with Activision over Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2. They had a nasty, public break-up. Look it up.
West and Zampella left / got fired, along with most of the key Infinity Ward staff, and created Respawn Entertainment, decided to make a game in the genre they helped mold, and signed a deal with EA and Microsoft to publish Titanfall, an online only FPS, with humans and mechs.
Titanfall is, at its most basic, a 6 vs. 6 team based first person shooter.
We play as a Pilot, a free-running foot soldier. We’re equipped with a primary weapon, secondary weapon, and an anti-Titan weapon, along with some other offensive and defensive tools, and perks. We’re also equipped with a jet-pack that allows us to double-jump, wall run and scale walls, all very fluid-like.
As a Pilot, we also have a handy companion in the Titan, an agile mech-style exoskeleton. The Titans are deployed into the battlefield from the sky at the request of their Pilot. The deployment is timer based, and the timer can be reduced through the in-game actions of the Pilot through kills. As the Pilot, we also have the ability to ride on friendly Titans, or jump on the backs of enemy Titans and shoot away at their core components. The Pilot’s class and load-out is fully customizable before the match starts.
The Titans can be AI controlled, either through a “guard” or “follow” command, or they can be player controlled once the Pilot steps inside. Pilots can get out whenever they see fit. It’s all very quick and seamless. When piloting the Titan, however, if the Titan is doomed, the Pilot can eject 100’s of feet in the air to escape the blast, and live to continue the fight. The Titan’s are equipped with an anti-personnel weapon, and anti-Titan weapon, as well as some defensive tools and core power-ups. The Titans are not as fast as their Pilot counterpart, but they’re not sluggish either. There are 3 classes of Titan ranging in size, speed and armour, and their load-out is also fully customizable before the match starts.
The battlefield is also scattered with AI soldiers running around, designed as human player competition and support. En masse, they’re a distraction.
Striving to push the genre forward, Titanfall has a nifty feature in Burn Cards. As a Pilot, we earn these disposable game-changers through unlocked challenged and purchases through the in-game store, which, thankfully, does not support real currency. These Burn Cards can be equipped in 3’s and are used once per life, then they’re gone, hence the name. Some allow for added agility to the Pilot, offensive possibilities for the Titan and Pilot alike, such as modified or boosted weapons, unlimited grenades, and some allow for more defensive perks, like upgraded mini-map, unlimited invisibility, or x-ray vision.
The gameplay itself is very fast paced, and a blast to take part in. With the Pilot’s ability to combine wall-running, gliding along ziplines, scaling walls, and vaulting over obstacles, it’s easy to lose track of the team you were following. Add in the distraction of the AI soldiers with you, or against, and Titans strolling through, it can be a lot to take in. I repeat, it’s very fun.
That being said, going back to my introductory statement – only with the addition of the 3 DLC packs (9 maps) and the newly added Frontier Defence (Co-op Horde mode), is Titanfall feeling like a complete title.
Out of the box we got 15 maps, and 5 game modes. In Attrition, teams compete for the greatest kill count, bots included. Pilot Hunter is similar to Attrition, but only Pilot kills count. Hardpoint Domination is a Capture and Defend objective-based mode. Last Titan Standing has everyone begin the match in a Titan; the team with the last Titan standing wins the round. And Capture the Flag – self explanatory.
The game also has a “campaign”, if you can call it that. There are two factions, Militia and IMC, obviously at odds with each other. In the campaign, we choose a faction and play through a series of maps and gameplay modes. Still online, still 6 vs. 6. The only difference is that each match has a few single-player story elements, such as cinematic sequences, and some narrator dialogue. Some key characters carry over from mission to mission to supplement the story.
Mind, THAT campaign is as it was in March. Now with the DLC out, the campaign is an afterthought. Factions and maps are randomly chosen when you enter the mode.
Graphically the game holds its own as a first generation Xbox One title. It should be considered as launch title quality, albeit 5 months late. The game is a minor step up on the previous generation’s hardware; however, as it runs at a very quick pace, some forgiveness can be given. Standard game textures, and static lighting are its biggest detractors, along with static maps with no level of destruction. Like the team’s previous Call of Duty games, there’s a lot of artifacts and debris that flies around, but that’s only for aesthetics.
Following the release of the game, I had a lot more complaints that I do not still share today. To be honest, I don’t gravitate towards online multiplayer shooters. I prefer to stay content in the single-player package. This game strove to change me, to drive me out of the comfort zone. And for the most part it succeeded. I very much enjoy the Titanfall package available today with its DLC maps and additional game modes, and co-op element. Today the game feels like a complete package.
I would not consider Titanfall to be the “next big thing” that EA and Microsoft were selling, but it does invigorate the genre. Watching the Titan’s blast from space into the atmosphere and come crashing down to the Earth is, and will remain a thrill every time. The game is fresh and innovative in its parkour elements that recent shooters are only now mimicking.
The game is also exciting and very chaotic at times, especially when multiple Titans converge on one crossroad. The AI soldiers populating the map definitely give the game the feeling that a larger battle is happening, even though the AI themselves will slow you down no more than a bug does a bug-zapper.
Worthy of the praise, but it’s more a step forward, than a leap.
For those who like FPS’s, parkour, jet-packs, and getting stepped on by very large robots.
Also available on the XBox 360 (Ported by different Dev) and the PC.
Death From above (Killed 5 enemies by dropping a Titan on them) – 15G
Look Around (Snapped the necks of 10 Pilots) 10G
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