Titanfall Review: Rise of the Titans
The First Person Shooter genre has been under fire from both players and critics for the last few years. Publishers have been flooding the market with generic options for players, often times with only one or two major choices standing out from the dozens of slightly improved versions of last year’s models. All the while fans have been complaining about the publisher’s choices to push out games without any major improvements to the game’s concept, or gameplay.
Titanfall took E3 2013 by storm when it was introduced, promising to deliver a FPS that wasn’t only new, but unique. It was a bold claim and one that players have heard time and time again from publishers and developers. That didn’t stop the game from collecting E3 Awards like fans collected free-stickers and now with the release of the game, all of the promises will finally be put to the test by the fans.
Speaking of tests, Titanfall introduced a short but promising beta-test right before the release of the title. So close to the release, that it proved the game had been well-tested before players were introduced to the game at all. Since the beta began so close to launch-day, it wouldn’t have allowed Respawn barely anytime to fix any actual major hiccups found in the game’s initial beta, this was more of a teaser and server trial than a bug-hunt.
Still the beta wen’t off without any major interruptions, and the only hurdle left was the launch of the game’s servers on release day.
That’s why we, and many other publications, didn’t publish our review on the day of the release. With EA’s launch of ‘Simcity’ still fresh in our minds, this time no one was going to take any chances.
Although a short Xbox Live crash and few connection troubles did exist in the game, the overall launch was a success. Players were quickly met with thousands of awaiting players, and in no time at all Titans were dropping into maps as quickly as they could be summoned by their pilots.
Titanfall lived up to its promise of offering a new type of FPS, one that was faster, fluid and customizable to different strategies and player-types. There’s an immense thrill of sprinting across the side of a building, jumping through the air and firing off three rounds of an automated, self-aiming pistol, that you won’t find in any other multiplayer First Person Shooter.
There are no standard bottle-neck locations on the maps, no crowded hallways or “must-have” vantage points that offer a strategic advantage like in other FPS games, it’s chaos at first, but thrilling.
Half Jedi, have Maverick from ‘Top Gun,’ you take control of a pilot and are soon sprinting from the surface of a high-rise onto a Titan’s back, then to the ground and an instant are back onto a building top, all in just seconds. I say Jedi because the controls are so wonderfully intuitive that at times it’s amazing that my small pilot avatar is able to move just as I wanted him/her to, the instant I think of doing so.
As deadly and accurate as the pilots are in the game, there are the Titans. Either controlled by a player or roaming about on their own defending locations or following their masters, they are a dominating force in the game. As powerful as these armored dragons seem at first, they are also vulnerable. Not just to other Titans, AIs or enemy pilots with heavy weaponry, but to the simple one-man commando that leaps off a building onto one of their back. I can honestly say that few, if any, FPS has ever achieved the level of satisfaction in my brain then the first time I flew off the side of a building, dodging shells, emptying clips and hurdling onto my first enemy Titan to take it down myself.
Like many FPS titles the need for “teamwork” is short-lived and often times unnoticed by the team as a whole. This of course varies depending on what game-mode you are playing but other than rescuing a friend’s Titan by blasting off an attached enemy, you are mostly on your own for the short few moments that you remain alive.
The cast of roles that you can turn your pilot into will affect your gameplay dramatically, which is a terrific enhancement to regular shooters. Other games have made important improvements to the class-choices allowed in their titles and Respawn kept up the trend to allow a better reason to select a class other than the gun you carry or what rockets you obtain.
A special addition to the game-play mechanic was the ability to earn “burn cards”. These act as quick bonuses that you earn after you die depending on your performance. They allow the unskilled-player a quick boost, and the able-bodied killing machines a chance to standout on their team. This can be anything from a simple boost to your weapon, to decreasing the time you must wait for another Titan.
I was one of the naysayers when I heard it was 6 v 6 maps, that number just seemed absurd and I instantly doubted that I would find the game as enjoyable than if there were more on each map. One round is all it took for me to change my mind. The enemy AI soldiers are one of the best additions to the standard gameplay design of a FPS. If you are a novice FPS player odds are you will still find yourself laying-waste to soldiers left and right, not even realizing they were AI.
That is something that’s a remarkable achievement for Respawn, AI that I didn’t realize was AI. Even if you learn how to better distinguish them later, or if you turn on name-plates for enemy soldiers, odds are in the beginning, they are perfectly blended into the chaos.
If you enjoy the leveling and customizing that FPS usually employ I think you will be happy with the pace in Titanfall. With the Titans, weapons, skills and Pilots offering chicness to upgrade, there’s also something that you are hoping to achieve or finally get to deploy.
There a few choices that some players may not enjoy. When I first loaded-up the automatic aiming pistol I thought, “Who’s going to think this was a cheap trick?”. I loved it, if you hate it or not I wouldn’t argue against anyone’s choice in the matter.
I could finally fire-off rounds and run as fast as want. It has a disadvantage over a self-aiming gun. The auto aim takes a few seconds to lock on, and you have to have three lock-ons to take down a full-health pilot in one trigger pull. Once you do have the lock-ons though, you’re not aiming, you’re firing. To me the it kept players moving, it allowed people to dive off walls or fly through the air when other games might have them camping or sniping. Auto-aim brought speed to me, and I’ll take auto-aiming gymnast in a game over camping statues any day of the week, but to a dedicated FPS player I would understand if they found fault with the inclusion.
Overall I thought Titanfall was a fast-paced collection of free-running, tank-driving mayhem and that it was unique. I think that was the real goal form the developers from the start. Finally offering something that people would enjoy while still introducing them to new tactics and thrills, all the while still covering the same bases that fans have fully expressed interests in with millions of hours of gameplay logged into First Person Shooters in the past.