Prepare for Titanfall!
This is a review for the Microsoft Xbox One new game Titanfall, developed by Respawn Entertainment and published by Electronic Arts. My brother was accepted into the Beta and let me play the game because he said he wasn’t really interested in it, so in this review I will tell my initial thoughts about the game and all its features based on my experience playing it.
Titanfall plays and feels a lot like the spiritual sequel to Mech Assault 2, but finally this time around when you get out and go on foot you actually have a gun in your hands!
“Pew pew. Take that bad guys Mechs!”
Players can customize their characters to choose their look based on your primary weapon, and you can choose gender, skills, secondary weapons, and a few side items as well. You pretty much have the same options to deck out your Titans (but you can’t choose gender for them!). Based on your performance in battle you also gain experience points to unlock upgrades and other special items, so it almost has RPG elements to it with its level system.
When I first started up the Beta I had a hard time connecting to the servers, but it appeared that the European servers seemed to connect for me without any problems. So if you can’t connect, try the EU servers.
I will start with the graphics. They are so-so; meaning, not spectacular. For this to be a “Next Gen” game I felt like it didn’t really make any steps to improve from the last generation of gaming consoles. There is no destructible environments, so all of the buildings you see are static, fences and walls don’t even crumble away or anything. The debris is mediocre, you will see some small dust particles and sparks, but nothing too fancy. There is a lot of dust smoke, and explosions, but I have seen all of these things in previous Battlefield games. So in my opinion, Titanfall could pass for a high end Xbox 360 game in terms of graphics.
I am going to start by saying that the tutorial was very deceiving and made the game appear to be a lot easier than what it really was. The overall gameplay is very fast paced and often times frantic with players running around and explosions and bullets flying everywhere, in this way it looks a lot like Call of Duty or Battlefield, but in my opinion it FEELS closer to a mix of Mech Assault and Halo when you actually get in game and play with other people. When I was playing with the other players on my team they surprisingly stuck together and used cover most of the time. Most of us stayed in small groups of twos and threes and would cover large areas across the map to pick off enemy team members. Players can use melee attacks to sneak up behind enemies to perform stealth kills, or run and jump off walls to navigate the city easier (more on that below), and it has all the standard features of most shooter games like iron sights to precision aim.
It only takes a bullet or two to kill players, so if you have good aim you can kill another player without emptying your clip. Players have no life bars, instead your screen turns red as you get shot and when it fills up you simply die, to stay alive you just have to take cover and wait for the screen to return to normal.
The entire game is one giant online deathmatch arena, there is no story mode, but there are times it feels like you are doing a stage in a single player campaign the way the NPCs talk to you, move about the stage, and point out new objectives for you to complete while you play, there were even times I couldn’t tell bots from players. The way you start a mission by flying in on your dropship and literally jumping into battle is great, it reminds me so much of the first Halo game because it had a lot of scenes like that. One of the best parts about a game session is the Epilogue at the end of a stage, when a team loses a fight they are told to extract from the area and get back to the dropship.
A way-point is placed on the map to tell you where to go and if you get there in time without dying you can climb aboard your dropship and fly away to space. It appears that surviving a battle by getting to your ship grants some extra experience points. However, at the same time enemy players can also choose to camp at the extraction area to kill all remaining players and the enemy dropship for some extra kill points, if you are killed during the Epilogue scene you cannot respawn for a second try. The Epilogue really makes Titanfall intense when you are trying to run back on foot with your last surviving teammates to extract from the area, and it makes you feel awful when someone is so close but gets left behind to stand on the rooftop to watch you fly away and leave them behind on the battlefield.
Using the Titans
In all of the game modes you can choose to activate the “Titanfall” to call down your giant Mech to assist you, this is done by a simple press of the down digital pad button. There are only two real commands you can give your Titan- “Stand still and defend” or “Follow me”. The two commands are nice and all but I would have really liked a “Run to the point I am looking at” command to draw enemies out into the open or to flank enemies from behind. I should explain that if a Titan is unmanned it will use its own AI to engage in combat and fight enemies, which is why you can give it commands. I actually found it more difficult to stay alive as a Titan because of their lack of mobility, which is actually awesome because I was afraid that Titans were too fast and “Human like” based on the Game trailers, but when I actually got in the game and started to play I found that they were a bit stiff and robotic like, and although they can run fast, they can’t actually turn and maneuver as fast as being on foot to take cover. This is not a bad thing though because it requires players to stick together and take cover and work as a team, you can’t always rely on running around or dashing.
Speaking of dashing, Titans get a Quick Dash ability to move and dodge a bit more quickly for a limited time. If you Quick Dash too many times without waiting for the bar to refill you will have to walk or jog to get behind cover which makes you vulnerable to attacks. Titans get more weapons and abilities that you can equip them with to customize how they perform, but most of the players I played with stuck with that magnetic shield thing that attracts bullets and missiles and shoots them back at the enemy like in the movie “District 9“. The last thing that Titans can do is melee attacks, if you time it just right when your enemies life is low they will sometimes perform a special fatality where they will reach inside the cockpit and kill the enemy pilot.
Other than that, the Titans behave a bit like walking Tanks.
Game modes and Stages
Titanfall only has three game modes and two stages right now, they are-
Attrition: A basic team death match game mode where you have to kill the most enemy players to win.
Hardpoint Domination: which is a hold the point type of game mode where the longer you hold a base the more points your team gets, first to get the most posts wins the game.
Last Titan Standing: This is exactly what it sounds like, each player gets one Titan each and only one life to live, no respawns. First team to kill all the enemy Titans without losing their own wins (You can choose to leave your Titan behind and play this on foot).
You can also choose to do the Variety Beta pack so that you can play a mixture of all the game modes and stages in a seemingly random order. The Hardpoint Domination game mode is probably my favorite because it mixes all of the frantic shooter elements with strategy and team work.
Within these three game modes there are sadly only two stages right now, “Angel City” and “Fracture”, both are City environments, but Angel City is a cluttered Dystopian like city, while Fracture is more on the line of jagged terrain and slightly open fields military base type of stage.
The controls were very fluent and after getting used to the basic gameplay mechanics I found that the controls were very easy to use, both on foot and in my Titan.
Running on walls, jumping, and doing all of the parkour stuff was extremely easy to pull off, in fact I was a pro at it within about two hours of playing and could hop off walls and navigate any part of the city with ease. Unlike games such as Jedi Academy and Warframe where you had to run in an angle to wall run and time it just right, Titanfall has it set up where just running, jumping and hitting walls will trigger a wall run, even if you face plant straight into the wall they will still automatically initiate the wall run. Yes, they hold your hand a little bit with this because they simplified it so much and made it easy, but this also makes navigating the city a breeze. I could run vertically up a wall and climb into a window to get to safety normally within a single try, which was great because when things got crazy on the ground I could easily get vertical to get out of the area and attack from higher ground. You can grab on and run off of any and everything, and I do mean everything!
Even jagged broken rock can be climbed with ease.
There was a time where I was following behind a team member and we had an epic chase scene on foot shooting at an enemy player, our target quickly ran up the wall and went vertical and we pursued him onto the roof and began jumping from building to building. To our luck, the enemy stopped and hesitated for a second as one of our allied Titans walked by, and my team mate ran up the side of the wall, jumped across the building and snapped the enemy’s neck all in one fluent motion. My team mate then proceeded to dance on top of him; it was pretty epic.
Hands down this game has saved the Xbox One. When you get into the game and get into the heat of combat it makes your heart race and gets the palm of your hands all sweaty, and for that I will give the game a solid 8 out of 10. Titanfall will lose one point for the wonky connection problems, bad lag (because I had to play with Europeans), and lack of stage variety (which will obviously be fixed in later updates), but everything else is pretty solid.
The few suggestions I have for the development team is giving players the choice to choose a game to jump into instead of always getting paired up in matching making, sometimes browsing a list of games and jumping in based on who is already playing is a bit better (especially if you see your rival playing). I would also like to be able to choose between the Militia and IMC teams, I know it is only cosmetic but I prefer playing Militia pilots and it would be nice if I could just stick with that side- in fact, just add a Galactic Conquest style game mode where you pick a side and fight to control all of the galaxy.
The two maps are nice, but I would really like a bit of variety for future stages, like a Jungle Forrest type stage with large trees and rocks that you can climb off of and navigate around, or maybe a dessert canyon stage so that you can wall climb and snipe in the mountains and rock crevices; better yet, a Lost planet style Snow field stage, think Hoth or Rhen var from Star Wars. And speaking of Star Wars, it looks like humans have accomplished space travel based on the game lore, so is there a chance we could get moon or space colony battles with lower gravity? Food for thought.
Cross your fingers that the developers add some of these ideas!
Titafall releases for the Xbox one and PC on March 11 2014, and for the Xbox 360 on March 25.
To find out more about Titanfall please visit the Official Titanfall website.