Video Game Review: Titanfall

by Scott Pell

I knew I was going to get this game as soon as I saw the demo for it at E3 last year. I was so excited to see that the folks from Infinity Ward being able to produce a game that they wanted. That game being one filled with giant robots, jetpacks, amazing graphics, an immersive aesthetic, and gameplay that looked like so much fun. The game is finally out, and I have been playing it nonstop.

Titanfall is more than just giant robots and jetpacks with a bit of shooting thrown in. Titanfall actually has a story to it. Now, it’s not the best of stories, nor does it hold any impact over how the match plays out. Win or lose, the story goes on. That story being, there is a big mean corporation, and a group of people that are upset about their meanness. War is declared, and the battles play out in the most epic of fashions.

A few days prior to the release of Titanfall was the official release of a game called Hawken. I too was looking forward to playing Hawken, as it also involved giant robots. Hawken took what is commonly known about giant robots, slow, lumbering hulks of badassery, and made them quick, nimble machines that were quite spry and packed a wallop. However, after playing only a few rounds of Hawken, it didn’t quite feel right. Hawken relies on players having played other multiplayer shooters before, in order to create the contrast from being on the ground to being in a giant robot. Titanfall creates this contrast within the game itself.

A layout of a match of Titanfall starts out with players on the ground, jumping and wallrunning with their jetpacks, killing minions and other pilots. Killing minions and pilots contributes not only to the score that will go towards reducing the build time of a Titan that the player can call in. Players are guaranteed to call a Titan at any point in the match. Everyone gets a Titan, and it is wonderful. While Titans are given, rather than earned, it does give those who might not be so good at being on the ground a chance to do well with a Titan. Titans belong to the pilots that call them in. No hi-jacking here. When a Titan enters the battlefield, there is a distinct paradigm shift in the momentum of the game.

Titans are a force to be reckoned with. So long as you are on the ground, and without a Titan, they are a serious threat to your well-being. When you’re in a Titan however, you feel the power that they carry with them. Titans may be slow and lumbering compared to the nimble pilots that run throughout the map, but they are mere ants to the mighty Titans. Needless to say, Titans pack a wallop, and can even crush a pilot when it steps over one. However, Titans can’t access every area of the map like the pilots, so those who have a Titan have to keep a lookout if preservation is on their mind. Firefights with Titans can get pretty intense. To make the experience even more immersive, kplayers have a computer lady voice that constantly feeds them informational updates about threat levels and how many other enemy Titans are engaging on them. Aside from being a great help when in combat, it’s also a nice touch to the sci-fi aesthetic that Titanfall nails. If you’re not too fond of piloting the big Titans, you can always have them follow you while you run around with your awesome jetpack.

Not having a Titan isn’t all that bad when you’ve always got your jetpack. ┬áPilot combat changes the game of first-person competitive multiplayer games entirely. There are certain habits that players fall into because of the restriction of movement as a result of not having a jetpack. In Titanfall, pretty much all areas are accessable. Adding in the jetpack with free running capabilities makes traversal to all areas possible, but a lot of fun. I find myself running around the map more than I am actually fighting with the other team. Jetpacks give players the all important double-jump, which can be chained from wall run to wall run. It’s so much fun to create lines to try and chain together runs, which build up momentum, and allow access to those higher areas. It feels a lot like the game Skate, with the flow that the jetpack allows. However, there are people and giant robots shooting at you while your running along walls like a freerunning Spiderman.

The guns in Titanfall are your standard fare of weapons with assault rifles, shotguns, snipers, and sub-machine guns. One weapon that sticks out, is the Smart Pistol. Because Pilots are so squirmy and can be anywhere at anytime, the Smart Pistol makes it easier to score a few hits on them. The Smart Pistol has bullets that lock on and curve towards the enemy. This isn’t as cheap of a weapon as it may sound. The targeting line for the weapon is so simplistic that it’s rather easy for the target to escape. Another balancing feature is that the Smart Pistol’s lock on range is lousy, so players have to get in relatively close, but paint the target long enough to get a red indicator. Naturally there is an upgrade to the targeting of the pistol, but it still isn’t going to be the one weapon that everyone chooses to go with.

At the end of the match, the losing team has to try and survive as they wait for their dropship to come in and give them a life out of the hot zone. Once the ship arrives, the losing team has to make their way to it, all the while surviving an assault from every member of the opposing team, as they too are notified to where the dropship will be arriving at. The experience of making it out of the game to the dropship is a victory in itself. It may be a situation where everyone wins, but in their own right that is justified respectively.

As this is a game by the people from Infinity Ward, the people who pretty much wrote the book on modern Multiplayer FPS games, there’s tons of challenges and unlockables. Every single action that a player does is rewarded with something. Be it Titan build time, points for the game, walking, holding a gun for a certain amount of time, killing minions, and the list goes on. The issue with all of these “challenges” and reward based gameplay is that it thrusts players to the higher levels. I hit about level 30 rather quickly, and did not feel as though I earned the title. Challenges reward players with a good chunk of experience points to help them level up. This rapid influx of experience points doesn’t feel all that deserved, and not really earned in any sort of way. However, the unlocks are spaced out far enough between levels that players don’t get everything all at once.

All in all, Titanfall is a game that is just plain fun. Giant robots, jetpacks, fun game mechanics, a cheesy storyline, and a lot of reasons to keep you coming back. Titanfall is a game that should be owned, or at the very least played, it’s worth the experience. Besides, the concept alone should make you want to play. It may be super fantastical, or Call of Duty with giant robots, but is that such a bad thing?

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