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Titanfall: prepare for the revolution

Monday, 10th March 2014 16:00 GMT By Sam Clay

It may have a throwaway story and and a few technical issues, but Titanfall is still a first-person shooter that pushes the genre forward.

Titanfall Screen 4

Ejecting from a giant Titan, flying up into the air and hurtling back down towards the ground is one of Titanfall’s greatest achievements. Wall-running across an entire map, bouncing off structures and lifting yourself up to a higher ledge to take out an enemy pilot – that’s another. Crushing foes like squeezing tomatoes, stamping your feet like a 3-year old child being pulled out of play-school – it’s a feeling that only comes from Titanfall. If first-person shooters have felt stale for some time, the team at Respawn has done its damnedest to freshen them up.

“Titanfall’s campaign is so drowned out by the gameplay that I have no clue what was happening in the top right of the HUD where the game feeds you mini-cutscenes.”

It’s hard to write an article about a new shooter without mentioning Call of Duty, and Titanfall is as fine-tuned as a once-famous captain’s moustache. Playing it, you soon realise the agonizing hours that have been put into balancing this behemoth. With all the attention put into this game, the studio deserves as many medals as have already been pinned to its chest since the game first began winning over the press. You can feel the crafting that has gone into the game; from the man versus machine gameplay of pilots fighting Titans, to the burn card perks, the wall running, wall-hanging and even vertical gameplay. The game is so well balanced that its as though these guys have been doing this sort of thing for years…

Multiplayer is the new campaign

You can’t play Titanfall without an internet connection. At the time of release, if you’ve got no internet, Titanfall is just an intro video on a blu-ray disc. This is a multiplayer game, don’t buy it if you want a single-player experience because it’s not here. And that applies even more so when it comes to a notable story campaign.

Titanfall Screen 5

Campaign Multiplayer hooks you up into online matches of 6 versus 6 in which the IMC and Militia battle it out. Each side gets its own story. But what that story is, well, I couldn’t give you the foggiest idea of what happened during my time with it. I just remember a lot of bangs and explosions, which is exactly what I came to the game for. Titanfall’s campaign is so drowned out by the gameplay and high-paced action that I have no clue what was happening in the top right of the HUD where the game feeds you mini-cutscenes. It’s like a blur in your vision.

There’s mention of leviathans (monsters/dinosaurs/whatever we’re calling them now) – these are simply a colourful addition to the game. You can gain points for shooting terrordactyl-type creatures but you won’t be fighting off a 3000 foot Torvosaurus. You can’t choose to play single missions either, you just jump into a lobby and have to deal with it. At this point the game will do its best to create a lobby for the mission you’ve gotten up to in the campaign. This is an issue that I’ve been told will be fixed post-launch.

Titanfall Screen 2

Capture the Flag 2.0

Capture the flag is a crowd favourite; the old timer. It’s a game mode that over the years has barely changed in shooters. It has always been a flat playground to run and jump your way back to home. The rules haven’t changed yet, but what Titanfall offers is something that truly makes the game worthwhile once more. You can use your Titan to get away with the flag. You can wall-run, you can use your abilities to assist you with your getaway and zipline your way to safety. Putting all this together, Titanfall manages to reboot Capture the Flag and make it exciting again because it all comes together – the flag grab, the jump into a Stryder (the fastest of the Titans), the dart back across the map under fire. Ejecting from a doomed Titan last minute, through the air and straight into through the roof of your base. Flag captured, game over. You win.

Titan-falls

Titans are huge, they’re something to behold and definitely not to be messed with. Dropping your Titan on top of another doesn’t get old. But as smooth as the game can be, some of Titanfall’s smaller maps can feel restrictive when the game struggles to cope with confined spaces. The sense of scale that the game so successfully created elsewhere begins to break.

“There are situations where the game completely throws a hissy fit and jarring technical issues slap you around the face.”

Ninety percent of the time you’ll suffer no issues with Titanfall on the Xbox One. But there are situations where the game completely throws a hissy fit and jarring technical issues slap you around the face. It might not screw up the overall match – and the fights carry on with all the usual intensity – but the framerate drops and the screen tears for around 4-5 seconds. This happened at least ten times during the two days we were playing the game in EA’s controlled environment, and we’ve noticed it happening online since then.

If that’s what happens on the Xbox One, I dread to see what happens during those rare moments on the Xbox 360.

Titanfall Screen 8

But despite these technical issues, Titanfall will undoubtedly become the shooter that changed the first-person shooter for a new generation. The mechanics under the hood of Titanfall are phenomenal. Hopefully we’ll see Xbox’s new Xbox Live Compute infrastructure thrive off the traffic – eating it for breakfast and asking for more, but we can never be 100 percent certain during these early days. As with all online games, there’s a certain amount of faith the player has to put into it and patience in the early weeks as Respawn and EA rolls out updates to strengthen the service.

In short? Get involved. You’ll look back on the day where you first played Titanfall. You’ll remember the first time you ejected over your Titan and crashed back into the battlefield. Titanfall is a game that inspires stories and you’ll shortly have your own to tell.

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15 Comments

  1. Erthazus

    It’s not a revolution. So far it is a good concept with poor execution and 6v6 multiplayer.

    “Wall-running across an entire map, bouncing off structures”

    Unreal Tournament 2004.

    #1 10 months ago
  2. Sam Clay

    @Erthazus What has been poorly executed? What team sizes do you want?

    #2 10 months ago
  3. OlderGamer

    Sorry Sam, but Erth +1

    In the limited pool of experiences that represent the console world…maybe, but so many people play PC now. I can’t find a console only gamer at any of my local video game stores. The expected feats and expectations are greater then they used to be.

    Want Mechs?

    I love Mechs.

    I play Hawken. For free. On my PC.

    There are so many lists, so many games…

    All I ever see is glowing love for this game from the media combined with a sickening marketing blitz.

    I just don’t see the magic.

    Destiny on the other hand, I can easily see the draw to that games concept at this point. TF just looks shallow.

    #3 10 months ago
  4. Sylrissa

    @OlderGamer I agree

    I don’t think it’s a bad game by any stretch, but I do believe it’s been way over hyped and it’s most certainly not some second coming of gaming revolution that it’s touted to be.

    #4 10 months ago
  5. OlderGamer

    ^^Exactly.

    #5 10 months ago
  6. fearmonkey

    What is with the really high scores if there is this issue where it acts up? I understand the game might be great, but no single player and some performance issues means it shouldnt be this ultra high scoring game.

    I am starting to wonder about the game journalism industry. I started playing Knack recently and I avoided buying it at launch because of all the bad reviews, but love this type of game.
    I rented it from gamefly and it’s actually a very polished and fun game. The graphics are almost pixar movie like, and the controls and gameplay is very fun and satisfying. It’s not a 9 or 10 but it’s a solid 8 in my opinion. Metacritic has only 9 positive reviews for the game and After actually playing over halfway through the game, I find it hard to believe.

    I remember GTA4 and how it got such awesome reviews and I thought the game was just ok,
    I realize game choices are subjective but every reviewer loved GTA 4. I am starting to really believe that only user reviews are worthwhile anymore, and even those you have to sift though because fanboys give a game a low score simply because they hate the platform or company.

    I like VG247′s no score reviews and usually you guys are fair, but I question pretty much every other website these days. After playing Knack, even more so. Knack is a better game than Killzone:SF, which got better scores.

    #6 10 months ago
  7. KAP

    This is another instance were the gaming press wants this game to succeed way to much it’s become a little awkward and creepy now.. It’s funny the way things work out that this games flaws are getting glossed over when other games lynched for the very same thing.

    I don’t doubt that this game is fun, but this is a FPS with mechs.. how on earth is this a “revolution”?! I might never ever know.

    All it takes then this November is Activision to announce Call Of Duty Modern Warefare 4 set in the future with mechs and the gaming media will lose there minds the same way..

    It’s getting forced kinda forced now.

    #7 10 months ago
  8. Hcw87

    People continuously forget that the game is loved by the gamers as well, not just the gaming press.

    It’s fine if you don’t like the game personally, but to insinuate that the press is in some way ”paid” to come with these kinds of reviews is just dumb. People have been loving what they’ve played so far in the Alpha/Beta.

    It’s a _FUN_ game to play, there’s no way around that.

    As for the FPS issue, just get it on PC. I had no issues whatsoever when playing it there. And from what i’ve seen, the issue is most notable when you’re getting INTO the mech, not exactly game-breaking, but whatever. People need to have something to complain about, especially since it’s on the wrong platform for them.

    #8 10 months ago
  9. Erthazus

    @Sam Clay AI for example. AI in this game is the worst in the industry and AI in this game so far is a poor execution for farming just to get a Titan faster.

    This game so far have really good maps and really big maps compared to any Call Of Duty for example but at the same time there are not enough players for these maps. They are too big for 6vs6 multiplayer.

    Everything else that Titanfall offers was before it. Mecha’s? Hawken/Mechwarrior. Fast-paced twitch based shooter with wall-running across the entire map? Unreal Tournament 2004 and with vehicles and levels that are changing in real-time. Cliff Blezinski personal masterpiece.

    #9 10 months ago
  10. Sam Clay

    @Erthazus AI is the worst yet? Give examples of bad AI traits you’ve seen? I’m not seeing them. The grunts and spectres are there to showcase an ongoing war between two factions. It adds to the action in the game.

    What maps have you played? How do you know that they’re too small? Maps like Boneyard are big and there’s no problem with player count. You imagining seeing 20 titans on a map? Could you imagine how atrocious that’d be?

    Unreal Tournament at times was very very quiet.

    #10 10 months ago
  11. the Bridgeburner

    It may be fun for some folk, but Titanfall looks trite to me. I’ve had enough of run ‘n’ gun combat out of shooters to last me a lifetime… I want something truly new and innovative.

    And if you want mech combat, there’s better options out there.

    #11 10 months ago
  12. VTchitcherine

    I finally committed to registering to clear up some risible assumptions.

    To use H.L. Mencken’s quote about Puritanism being ‘the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy’, there’s a disappointing number of people seemingly taking umbrage that others are enjoying Titanfall. The latter actually having, you know, played the game.

    I had virtually no interest in it myself and when I heard about decisions such as the ’6v6′ player limit, my initial reaction was at best, uncertainty. Then I actually played the beta on PC and in a stunningly short period of time everything revealed itself to be an exacting, exhilarating piece in something that coalesces into something truly unique and sensational.

    One is extremely powerful as a pilot, in speed, movement freedom and lethality in a way that even UT2k4 doesn’t achieve (You could only ‘wall-dodge’ in that unless you had mods to reset the jump counter but neither the levels nor supporting mechanics were remotely as thoroughly designed as the spectacularly well-executed parkour system of Titanfall). To have more players in already impressively large maps would prohibitively shorten everyone’s life not to mention the chaos in the possibility of having more than 12 Titans in a single battle trying to fire around one another.

    The random idiocy of CoD, where you run around repetitiously in circular maps hoping to exploit a kill differential of milliseconds at choke-points to start a chain-reaction of overpowered killstreak rewards one can’t counter is just non-existent.

    As for complaints about the A.I., they’re as hollow as complaining about the creeps in a MOBA, which is the correct analogue and their utility is different than if they were enemies in single-player shooter. A good player in Attrition will be constantly killing both Pilots and A.I. while managing enemy Titans, however they’re a distraction that other opposing players can seize upon (you appear on the minimap when firing but also when you’re seen by the A.I.) The challenge is not any one engagement with A.I., which pose only a nominal threat but how many you can seamlessly kill while managing more significant threats.

    Finally, I was really excited for Hawken, it looked beautiful though the gameplay revealed itself to be remarkably bare. Let me say emphatically, I played Hawken… it has nothing on this. The animation, the locomotion, the sound design, the wonderful rounds of ‘vortex shield tennis’ where increasingly larger amount of munitions are thrown back and forth in a tense timing game of hot potato… crushing dozens of helpless A.I. in a dash to rip out a pilot from the innards of a weakened enemy Titan was more fun in a single moment than the several hours I spent with the already foundationally distasteful “free”-to-play model of Hawken.

    It really is that good but what do I know, I probably have some unseen character failing that leads me to my opinion, I’m on the take from pernicious corporations, I colluded with oppressive governments, I’ve committed crimes against humanity and I dare to be enthusiastic about a game I played.

    #12 10 months ago
  13. fihar

    This idea of taking some points off a game just because it has no singleplayer is so 20th century it’s borderline ridiculous.
    Judge the game for what it is, not for what it isn’t.

    Haven’t played the game, I doubt I ever will, but the vertical nature of the game seems to be more fun than the mechs itself.

    #13 10 months ago
  14. antraxsuicide

    @VTchitcherine *Applauds*

    Jesus, this is so spot-on. Every single comment I’ve read is so shallow, it’s mind-numbing. Anyone who actually plays shooters can see how revolutionary this game is. The original Halo caught the exact same flak from non-fans.

    @OlderGamer
    Sorry to break it to you, but Destiny’s got as much hype as my grandfather’s *bleep.* I love Bungie to death, but they’ve done everything wrong with Destiny. Console gamers have a different mindset than PC gamers, so if you’re bringing an MMO to console gamers, you have to analyze why the console players don’t play MMOs.

    And Bungie screwed the pooch on that. Destiny looks like any other MMO, just in 1st person. And that’s not going to work for sales. It just won’t. Respawn looked at MOBA’s, and brought that style of play in a great fashion to consoles. They took the parts that work (creeps, “ults,” and roles) and ditched the parts that wouldn’t translate (keyboard-heavy controls, laning, over-customization). It’s brilliant.

    If Bungie wants Destiny to succeed, they certainly don’t show it.

    #14 10 months ago
  15. Solist

    @VTchitcherine /applause sir.

    One of the few voices of reason found around here. I only sign in under rare circumstances, and you sir deserve a kudos. Wish vg247 didn’t have the vitriol it does, but alas I don’t see that changing. Good to know there are still some sensible and sane people around.

    #15 10 months ago

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