Titanfall has the satisfaction of Call of Duty’s pointing and shooting, framed in an aesthetic that supports: blasting across roof-tops, jumping from wall-to-wall, and summoning your own personal goddam Gundam/Jaegar/Titan thing!
It is a lot of fun. A lot.
In a minute-to-minute sense, Titanfall is a lone wolf shooter; you can’t take very many hits, there aren’t any vehicles beyond the Titans themselves, and there is no way to revive a squadmate — they’ll respawn on their own in a matter of seconds. At first blush it seems bizarre; of all the multiplayer-oriented console shooters out there, Titanfall doesn’t seem like the prime candidate for being online only.
And yet, Titanfall offers an exhilarating team-based multiplayer environment by layering smaller obstacle and objectives onto everything. Even if you couldn’t win a shoot-off to save your life, there is no shortage of ways to contribute to the team:
- Each level is populated by AI controlled grunts that don’t pose much of a threat, but still count towards the team’s score.
- Some robo-guards can be hacked to fight by your side, which helps by forming a distracting possy of ai. This is –obviously– done by stabbing them in the face.
- A bunch of the levels have hackable turrets –that can protect your HQ in objective-based game-types– which also make for great camping spots.
- And you can always try to take down a Titan (which have their own multitude of ways to be destroyed) including: jumping onto their back to to blast away at their innards (these are lovingly called rodeos), chipping-away at them with rockets and your invisibility skill — yes you have an invisibility skill– or using your own Titan to punch them in the face.
As a player, you’re never stuck just waiting for someone else to shoot you. Even when your team does lose, you get to enjoy a Left 4 Dead-style ‘get to da choppa” escape –which acts as a great opportunity to meet in the middle and have one last free-for-all.
All this is matched up with a cobbled-together Sci-fi look, that works well to communicate the stakes of the universe — which is handy, because the actual ‘campaign’ story is hilariously bad at explaining anything. One of the cool things the game does in a regular multiplayer round is have a voice-over tell you how many minutes are left until your Titan will be ready, or keep you posted on how well your team is doing overall. In the game’s campaign mode you’re ostensibly playing a normal match of multiplayer, except there is additional dialogue blanketed on top of the match. It’s hard enough to follow a voice-over so completely unrelated what you’re actually doing in-game, but when you do have a chance to tune-in, you’re treated to military personnel bickering about the sacrifices of war — it’s all extraordinarily flimsy. Occasionally the story creeps into ‘so bad that it’s good’ territory, but overall the plot does a disservice to game’s excellent art and design work.
It’s easy enough to accept a light story in a game predicated on playing with other people, but at full-retail price –of $60– it is unreasonably light on content. With the exception of ‘Last Titan standing’ –which starts everyone in their Titan and may be the game’s most strategic mode– there isn’t much beyond the tired team death match, domination, and capture the flag. Even those mainstays could have been sufficient if there were a way to create custom matches, but right now there aren’t any private games, or host options, or anything to mess around without outside of matchmaking proper. It feels a bit bare bones.
But all things said and done, I still haven’t been this excited about a multiplayer shooter in a long long time. Even the opening moments of a match are thrilling; jumping down onto a map is similar to a flume ride: you’re given a brief glimpse of the horizon just before experiencing the physical sensation you signed on for. So much of the game’s core gameplay feels ‘just right’, enough so that on winning rounds it’s easy to forego shooting and just run along walls to appreciate how well designed each map is. It has a long way to go, and I have no doubt that a sequel will vastly improve what’s being offered here, but as it is, Titanfall is so much fun that it’s easy to recommend.
- Having smaller maps is great. I forgot how much fun it is to ‘learn’ a first-person shooter level.
- The game’s free-to-play hooks (burn cards) that don’t actually cost any money are really cool — in a weird way I couldn’t stop thinking about how Vlambeer also uses free-to-play mechanics to their benefit.
- It’s not a cocky game. It’s clearly looked at everything that’s happened in games since Modern Warfare 2‘s development. You can see Left 4 Dead, Mirror’s Edge, and even DOTA in here.
- The Story is dumb, so so so dumb. The reporter makes reference to how reports are “sketchy.” Asinine.
- Protip: the second you get burn cards start using them. I ended up discarding tons.
- Having the Titan’s fall (teehee) at the 4 minute mark makes matches feel like they happen in ‘waves’.
- I was really impressed when I realized the pc version was running on Microsoft’s servers. I didn’t have any issues on pc or xbox.