TitanFall is finally here on Xbox 360, Xbox One and PC after months of hype and speculation. Having invested the hours into its multiplayer only madness, is the game worthy of high praise, or just another shooter to fill the ranks of an over saturated genre? Take a look at our TitanFall video review for the full picture.
We stood-by for it, rather impatiently, and now Titanfall has landed. It’s the first game by the newly-reformed studio Respawn Entertainment, the lead of which, along with key staffers who were behind past Call of Duty entries – perhaps most significantly, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare – which shifted the series from the WWII era to modern times.
With Titanfall, Respawn warp us further into a sci-fi future. The thrill to Titanfall’s multiplayer is all about carnage and mayhem. It’s running along walls, leaping and scoring a quick kill, to leaping onto a Titan, taking it down in spectacular explosive fashion, and jumping into your own before casually stomping towards your next victim. It’s man vs. machine, it’s man crushing machine with his own machine… again, and again. And lastly, it’s just bloody satisfying.
As for Titanfall’s visuals, it’s not immediately striking but is familiar to the developers roots, at least at first glance. It’s more the scale, the map design to accommodate Pilot and Titan, and give one more breathing room. It’s groups of large Titans stomping around, it’s the hectic sky-box littered with ships or dragons. It’s seeing AI bots battle or aid wounded friends. And although the game does suffer from some screen-tear, it still impresses.
It’s that it all runs at 60 frames (for the most part) with fluid gameplay, with Titans battling Titans, with Rockets flying across the map, with Pilot’s being ripped from Titans. It’s simply impressive in motion and even more so to play.
The whole multiplayer experience is very much designed to empower the player. Given that it’s human-controlled Pilots, vs. other Pilots, vs. Pilots controlling Titans, vs. AI controlled Titans, and AI controlled cannon-fodder AI Grunts – for what is 6 vs 6 multiplayer, there’s an awful lot going on in every match.
There’s also Spectres, an AI variant to the traditional Grunts, except these robots can be grabbed and hacked by the player, turning them to fight for your side. Although AI Titans aside, the Spectres and Grunts are very much cannon-fodder, they’re merely present to give you something to shoot at whilst looking for the next gun or mech fight; and doing so is not completely pointless, as any extra points acquired means you can call in your Titan that much sooner.
Pilot and Titan classes can be fully customized, letting you hand-pick weapons and abilities to decide what works best for you. There’s many options to juggle, but there’s typically a counter measure for each. The cloak can turn a Pilot almost invisible for a short period enabling him to get up close to a Titan, where as a Pilot in his Titan might have the Nuclear Ejection ability, and upon ejecting, detonate his Titan laying waste to any nearby enemies.
During your murder time you will unlock and build up a stack of Burn cards, of which you’ll be able to take 3 with you into a match. If used wisely, you can time it for when it will best benefit and give you an advantage, but only for that life. It could be Double XP, or to call in a Reserve Titan immediately, or a different weapon entirely.
The game also features an assortment of weapons, from several rifles, SMG’s, to a rather powerful Shotgun, all rather typical that you would expect to find in such a shooter.
However, it’s Titanfall’s Smart-Pistol that may be what the chainsawing Lancer was to Gears of War, and that’s a noob’s best tool to ensure they get the job done. It makes for easy pickings on Grunts, where as Pilots require a longer lock-on time before an instant-kill is assured. Simply be within range of an enemy, wait for the red marker to ensure target lock, pull trigger, and bag multiple kills with one squeeze.
There’s just three Titan’s available, and these also have an assortment of powerful weaponry and abilities to choose from, but what’s most unique about each is that they have pre-set features of their own. Each has the ability to dash and dodge incoming projectiles a limited number of times, which runs on a cool-down, not forgetting each also has a unique finishing move.
The Atlas is all about inflicting mass amounts of damage with its increased Damage core ability. The Ogre too packs a punch, but is slow whilst clinging onto health that bit longer with the aid from a Shield core ability. The Stryder looks frail in comparison to his brothers, but can get around the map much quicker with its Dash core ability.
There’s 15 maps to wage war on, and there’s not a particularly bad one among the bunch. They’re all cleverly designed with both Pilot and Titan in mind, like two different maps merging together, giving the Pilots some interior and rooftop playgrounds all their own.
Attrition, this is essentially a variant on Team Death match where the first team to score 250 points wins the match. You get points for everything, Pilot kills, Titan kills, AI Grunt kills. Where as Pilot Hunter is much the same, except only Pilot kills count, with the first team to 50 kills winning. Last Titan Standing has both teams starting in their Titans, and it’s the only one you’re going to get. You can’t call in a replacement and the Pilots themselves also only have one life.
Objective based mode Hardpoint is essentially Domination, both teams fight to control three objectives on the map, and Capture the Flag even makes an appearance. CTF is rather self explanatory, although Titanfall makes for a more unique experience with its gameplay mechanics. As a Pilot you can wonder into the enemies base, grab the flag, and leap into your Titan and quite easily dash back to your base. Perhaps the ability to climb into your own Titan whilst carrying the flag might seem obvious to be denied, but after playing it for some time, it’s something that’s grown on me and keeps the hectic pace going strong.
The other change Titanfall brings forward, is that a match isn’t over when it’s won or lost. There’s an Epilogue that it ends on, where the losing team can make a dash for an escape ship – the winners can pick ’em off, or just annihilate the ship itself. It’s an intriguing addition that gives everyone a last chance to settle a score before all is said and done.
Titanfall may be considered a blockbuster new franchise, but it’s not your traditional blockbuster that features a fleshed out story-driven Campaign mode, co-op and multiplayer trio – although there is a Campaign, it’s still very much an all-out multiplayer experience, just with further narrative interwoven, and some flashy introductions and cinematic moments that flesh out the chaotic world of multiplayer further.
The main issue with Campaign is that there’s plenty of dialogue throughout these multiplayer matches, with key cinematic moments, many of which involve a Picture-In-Picture window where there’s an attempt at some dramatic story-telling. These PIP moments are rather frustrating as at times they seem pretty significant, and trying to focus on them can get you killed, which in turn closes the PIP until you respawn. It’s sadly failed story-telling in multiplayer; the brief story chatter in the pre-game lobby and the intro cinematic itself serves this purpose much more adequately.
Respawn have certainly delivered on the mayhem and entertainment factor of multiplayer. At time of review, Microsoft’s servers are spinning without a hitch to host matches for players, enabling us to game with a consistently good connection, as opposed to peer-to-peer which was the norm for much of the past generation, and it’s even handling the processing of everything AI related, from Grunts, Spectres and the Titan’s themselves.
Although there are said to be further improvements on the way, with talk of a resolution bump and Private match support – regardless of what changes are to come in the near future, it’s now and this past week that my rodeo with Respawn’s Titanfall has given me the most thrilling multiplayer experience I’ve had in near a decade.
Score 9/10 – Review By Wayne Julian
Review code supplied by Xbox/EA.