April 2, 2014
Resplendent with high octane intensity, a flood of bullets, parkour action and more giant robot battle-suits than you can shake a stick at, “Titanfall” charged out of the gate with the intention of restructuring the state of competitive multiplayer games. Does the attempt warrant you prepping to drop? Or should you stay away from the front lines?
First things first, “Titanfall” is an exclusively multiplayer game. There is no single-player action, with the only campaign or story mode present being a select series of multiplayer matches framed by short cutscenes.
The story, while short, is actually fairly interesting if you take it at face value and don’t go in expecting “The King’s Speech.” The only obvious criticism is that much of the story that takes place during the missions happens while you’re actively playing and unable to pay attention, and gets cutoff if you respawn during it. It takes about three plays through to really catch enough of the story to piece it together.
But no one picked up this game for the promise of “Pride and Prejudice and Robots.” They picked it up because they wanted to sprint around blowing people away in a blaze of lead, and in that respect “Titanfall” delivers in spades.
The action of the game revolves two teams with six players each competing over varying types of objectives. No matter what the objective the more prominently placed goal is gaining kills, either on the enemy players or on the dozens of computer controlled grunts that populate the map. A host of weapons and abilities let you tailor this experience to your playstyle, and large maps combine with excellent movement controls to let pilots flit across the map in seconds.
And the point of all this human-scaled carnage, besides fun? The Titanfall, where a giant robotic battle-suit is fired to your location from orbit. At the beginning of the game a three-minute time begins counting down, with time shaved off every time you complete an objective or score a kill. When it hits zero you are allowed to summon your titan (the giant robots) and either get inside for increased destructive potential or have it follow you around with a rudimentary but sufficient AI protocol.
The titans are powerful but far from overbearing on the game. A handful of methods exist for players to fight titans on foot, from anti-armor weapons to physically jumping on their back and shooting straight into an exposed power core. A savvy player is more than capable of dueling the metal giants, so long as they aren’t caught out in the open or (literally) crushed under foot.
In terms of aesthetics, the game doesn’t break any new ground. Things look great, as everything does on the next generation of consoles, but not excessively spectacular. As it stands, the resolution also isn’t running at full capacity, though Respawn Entertainment has promised a fix for that in the future. Where the game does shine is in its fantastic visual and auditory design. The silhouettes of the characters and titans are sharp and sounds of the game, from the nuclear bomb siren to the ejection warning warble, will stick in your head for days.
“Titanfall” was released with the intention of radically altering the landscape of gaming, and while it certainly laid a great foundation, it didn’t quite blow away the competition the way they were probably hoping. The critical issue was just that there wasn’t enough: you’ll always be left wishing there more game modes or weapons to unlock. But if the only major issue with a game is that you wish there more of it, clearly it’s doing something right.