Review Context: I have been playing first person shooters for years, starting with Goldeneye and Perfect Dark on the Nintendo 64. More recently I’ve played through all of the Call of Duty, Battlefield, Halo, Crysis, Left 4 Dead and Bioshock games, among other first person shooters.
Date Playthrough Started: March 11, 2014
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Respawn Entertainment
One of the most anticipated games of the year has finally arrived and the question on everyone’s minds is: does it live up to the hype? For me personally, yes, but there is still room for improvement.
First, if you’re a first person shooter fan, this is a no-brainer, go out and grab Titanfall. It is a fresh new take on the genre that mixes the tight gunplay of the Call of Duty series with intense parkour reminiscent of Mirror’s Edge and giant robot Titans thrown into the mix. If you’re not a shooter fan, you should still go out and grab Titanfall, because it is just that much fun. If you’re having trouble against other players, then the map is filled with grunts and spectres for you to build up your confidence and improve your gunplay.
Titanfall is, to put it simply, a lot of fun to play and one of its charms is how, bafflingly, even when you’re losing, the game is fun. Lose your Titan? Try and take someone out with a nuclear explosion or earn a gooser against an enemy pilot. Lose the match? Stick it to the opposing team by evacuating from the match and getting a little more XP. Lose a close gunfight against an enemy? Use a burn card to rematch and finish him off. The game feels limitless in its options to ensure it remains fun for the player.
The first thing most players will notice when first trying out Titanfall is that it lacks a traditional singleplayer mode. The campaign in Titanfall is multiplayer only, with a mission playing out pretty much the same way an online match would. The only difference is that there is some semblance of a story woven through, a story that is pretty lackluster and is mostly told through small in-game custcenes that you might not even notice if you’re too focused on the game. If you’re looking for a first-person shooter with an engaging story, Titanfall is not the place to look, it won’t bend the mind like Bioshock Infinite, but the gameplay is so much fun, I can be forgiving of that.
Online Modes, Maps and Customizations
The meat of the game comes in the online modes, of which there are 6. I have heard complaints that 6 game modes is too limited for a first person shooter, but, for me, 6 works just fine since most players in online shooters stick to deathmatch style games (called Attrition in Titanfall) and other game modes tend to be ghost towns. Other game modes include the standard Domination and Capture the Flag, as well as Pilot Hunter, which is essentially Attrition, except only pilot kills count towards the score and not kills on grunts and Titans, and Last Titan Standing, where everyone starts in a Titan and the goal is to doom all the opposing team Titans before your team’s Titans get destroyed.
The different game types combined with the 15 different maps call for vastly different strategies and makes customization extremely important. Although the customizations in Titanfall are somewhat limited, there is enough there to have players easily filling in the 10 custom slots (5 for pilots and 5 for Titans). Titanfall is no MechWarrior in terms of customizing your mech, but that is likely because the game is not focusing on realism and too much customization would make it hard to maintain the balance of the game. Essentially, the games customization isn’t incredibly deep, but it’s not so shallow that the game gets boring quickly.
To counteract the slight lack of customizations are burn cards, burn cards are one-time use cards that enhance your pilot or Titan in some way. Burn cards, especially the rare ones, can help you change your luck or even turn the tide of the match. To keep things fair, they only last one life and the more devastating burn cards are few and far between. They are similar to killstreaks from Call of Duty, except they allow you to build up a deck over several games by completing challenges, which feels more even.
Another aspect of the game I really enjoy is the new prestige system. Prestiging multiple times gets both easier and more difficult. Easier in the sense that you earn XP at an accelerated rate after prestiging, so you can reach later levels of prestige faster, but more difficult in the sense that certain challenge requirements need to be met in order to prestige again. Prestiging in Titanfall walks the fine balance between allowing you to get better weapons and customized loadouts faster, often a problem when prestiging in games, while still requiring you to be decent enough at playing the game to be able to beat some of the challenges. It mixes time and skill to ensure higher generation players truly earned their rank.
Room for Improvement
I really only have two issues with Titanfall, the first being that it doesn’t feature split-screen play. With so many of my friends wanting to try out the game, it is incredibly annoying that we continually have to switch off in order to get some play time. The second issue I noticed was that teams didn’t always seem balanced, in terms of both skill and number. This was especially true in the campaign, where I personally found the later levels tended to be sparser. I often found myself on a team with only 4 or 5 players. The game was built for 6 vs. 6, so when there are less players it is glaringly obvious. Luckily this doesn’t happen often enough to detract from the overall experience of the game, but when it does happen it is fairly annoying.
Overall, Titanfall is a fantastic accomplishment for the team at Respawn. They have crafted a game that is fun and revolutionary in the first person shooter genre. While there are some small issues with the game, the foundation is solid and I have high hopes for the inevitable sequel.
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Brink (Xbox 360)