There is no doubting the fact that Titanfall is releasing with an enormous amount of hype behind it. Ever since it was revealed at last year’s E3 it has been the talk of the town. After a myriad of screen shots, press releases, video reveals, closed alphas and open betas, Titanfall is finally here and it wasn’t until my third round of Attrition that I realized Titanfall was something special. It’s a game that goes after just about every young boys’ dreams – giant robots shooting guns and crushing humans with their bare metallic hands. The sensation you get when your first Titan falls from the sky is indescribable, but the second it scoops you up and puts you into its chest you know you’re in for one wild time. Titanfall is original and exciting yet it has somewhat of an incomplete feeling to it. That being said I can’t wait to keep playing.
Titanfall dispenses with the traditional single player campaign and instead focuses on multiplayer only. You and up to eleven other people battle in fifteen distinct multiplayer maps, but you’re not alone. There are AI controlled “Grunts and Specters” that fight alongside or against you. They help make the matches feel more epic and part of a larger war, although they essentially pose no threat and are little more than canon fodder. Every map feels different and thought-provoking and they are all well balanced. The maps are alive with huge vistas and skyboxes that contain massive ships fighting in the atmosphere or huge transmission towers that crumble down during a match. There might also be indigenous creatures walking in the distance or flying just above your head. You rarely see more detailed and intricate maps in a multiplayer game and they go a long way to making the scope of the battles you partake in particularly memorable. Although strangely there is no ability to vote on the next map in a lobby, lets hope that gets addressed in a future patch.
Remember when I said there is no campaign? Well I was kind of exaggerating. Titanfall has a mode within it called “Campaign Multiplayer.” It is an attempt to fuse narrative storytelling and cool set pieces you’d expect from a traditional FPS single player campaign inside of a multiplayer match. You play through nine levels on two different sides of the ongoing war, the Militia and the IMC. Unfortunately it doesn’t work all that well and comes off like a missed opportunity. Most of the “story” is essentially told through COM chatter in the upper right hand corner of your hud. It’s incredibly hard to focus on the story elements when you have other players to worry about and objectives to complete. So what is there isn’t engaging at all. It’s very difficult to even explain what the story was and it ends up being the most disappointing aspect of Titanfall because of all of the potential it had going for it.
At launch there are only five modes for Titanfall. Attrition, which is your basic point based team death match, Hardpoint Domination where you capture three hardpoints just like in Call of Duty’s domination, Last Titan Standing which is where you start off as a Titan, Pilot hunter which is the same as attrition only when you kill Titans it is essentially a waste and then there is CTF. For a multiplayer only game there are very few modes in Titanfall and that might be a problem in the next couple of months. There should be more modes and it almost makes the game feel like it is not worth the sixty dollars that you are paying for it. All of the modes are fun with the exception of Pilot Hunter, but they are all based on the same concept.
When it comes to playing Titanfall you should feel right at home if you are at all familiar with first person shooters (FPS’s). It’s incredibly fast paced and fluid. Running on walls and double jumping on to a nearby roof is genuinely exciting. You’re constantly moving around the map. Staying in one place for too long will most likely spell death for you and if you’re on the ground as a Pilot you’re doing it wrong. Killing and completing objectives based on what mode you’re playing gives you points and attributes and it is all going towards that special moment in time when you get the message that “Your Titan is ready.”
The first time you initiate the prompt to begin your Titanfall and look up into the sky and see a blinding bright light with a dark smoky trail behind it you get chills all the way up your spine. Then it smashes onto the surface of the earth with enough force to shoot up smoke and debris to conceal it completely. When the dust and smoke clears you can see your metallic, industrial and almost beautiful Titan kneeling before you waiting to be utilized. You race towards your Titan and it swiftly and briskly picks you up and puts you into its chest. At that moment you go from a fast, carful and agile Pilot to a hulking and thunderous Titan. The switch is seamless, but the transformation into a killing machine lets you become a far more dangerous threat to the opposing team.
When it comes to customizing your loadout Titanfall has you covered. Titanfall is somewhat lacking in quantity when it comes to weapons and “perks” for lack of a better word and instead relies on a good number of powerful weapons like the reliable R-101C Carbine for the Pilot and the Plasma Railgun for your Titan. You are able to select different abilities for your Pilot, abilities that can allow you to see through walls or become cloaked for a period of time. There are also defenses your Titan can use other than your main weapon such as electric smoke. If an enemy Pilot happens to board your Titan you need only to dispense the smoke and he will be dead in a matter of seconds if he stays attached to you.
Another thing that Titanfall has and one of its most defining features is the “burn cards.” The more points you earn the more likely you will earn burn cards and they can range anywhere between giving you more experience points or respawning where you last died, but you can only use them when you die and once they are used they are gone. They have the ability to change the battle and they are a great wrinkle in the gameplay. Piecing together the perfect duo for your Pilot and Titan is very easy and accessible. Everything is amazingly balanced and nothing feels like it’s over powered or could be exploited.
For all intensive purposes Titanfall feels like the next step in the FPS multiplayer genre. The kinetic gameplay and exciting battles make for an invigorating and rewarding experience. It’s incredibly satisfying when you first step into your Titan and that feeling is constant throughout most of the game. It’s disappointing to see that the much touted campaign multiplayer isn’t what it could’ve been and there are not enough multiplayer modes to choose from as of now. Those issues aside, there is no other game out there like Titanfall and all of the core fundamentals of a FPS are morphed into a game that is accessible and elegant. Titanfall cements itself into the hall of worthy shooters.