Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Titanfall (Xbox 360 & Xbox One Review)

Titanfall was introduced as the Xbox One's killer app, but does it really live up to the hype? Yes and also No, Titanfall is one of the best shooter experiences available right now. But, the poor excuse for what they call a "Campaign" makes it feel like you aren't quite getting everything you paid for. On the bright side Respawn has regularly updated and tried to make improvements and implement what fans ask for. Titanfall is most certainly a solid foundation for what could be a franchise that could put out the big guns of genre, but it will definitely require more tweaking before it is perfect. I fear that Titanfall may suffer the same fate as it's competition, stuck in a yearly release schedule, sucking the franchise dry before it can ever fully realize all the potential it has.

Titanfall has the distinction of being one of the fastest multiplayer FPS's I have ever played (outside of Quake III Team Arena), and with the absolutely amazing freedom of movement, it is an experience like no other. The movement is less Parkour like Brink, and more go where you want, how you want. You are handed the ability to find your own way and develop your own tactics. Snipers can get as high as possible, shotgunners can move quickly and without barriers to get the drop on anyone they wish, and you can even cling to a wall to allow for easy pickings. I actually had to stop myself from simply running around on the ground, like I have been trained to do in every shooter I've ever played. It really is disorienting the first match you play with the realization that you don't have to run on the ground, you can just run on the walls.

The Weapons and loadouts in the game feel extremely balanced, they all have their benefits and drawbacks and no one is invincible. In the early days the Shotgun was so overpowered you could kill people from midrange before they could even react, this has since been fixed, showing that Respawn is committed to making the experience the best that it can be. You will have to get pretty deep into the 40's before you unlock everything which almost makes passing into the next generation of pilot almost painful, but luckily the guns you start with will make you more than able to defend yourself. You will begin to earn Burn Cards, Burn Cards are almost like Call of Duty's Perks, with a twist. A Burn Card will allow you to do everything from add more damage to your gun, or equip your titan with a longer lasting core ability, or allow you to call in a Titan from the start of a match. But, if you die, your Burn Card expires, and with the fact that you can only carry 3 at a time means everyone is still evenly matched.

The real draw however is the Titan's themselves. I have never been into Mech based games, it's just not really my thing, and on 360 I wasn't very good at Piloting my Titan, I would get in and it would usually be exploding shortly thereafter. But since I started playing it on the Xbox One I have gotten way more into Piloting my Titan, there is enough in the custom loadouts that you can makeup for your short comings. Titans can be customized just like your pilot to fit your playstyle. There are only 3 types of Titans the lean and fast Stryder, the midsize Atlas, and the hulking Ogre. Each are distinctly different, and offer you a bit more to think about when engaging hostile Titans. Titans feel and move fantastically and with the dash ability you are just as agile as most of the people on the ground, or you can always step on them. There is honestly nothing more satisfying than watching your Titan plummet down to the battlefield, especially when it lands on an enemy Titan, or punching a Titan only to watch your Titan rip a pilot out of it or rip off it's arms and beat it with it.

Those who like a nice story to go along with their multiplayer madness will be especially disappointed. The "Campaign" is merely background noise to what is going on around you at any given moment. The story centers around two warring factions the government like IMC and the resistance like Militia. You will end up on one side or the other, and play on the maps that come packaged with the game, the only difference is they haphazardly place in plot points prior to the match starting or usually in the middle of all the madness by a person telling you something vaguely important to the story in a little window in the top left of your screen. You won't care, you will too busy fighting to listen, and that is all there is to the campaign. It's really disappointing there is no story mode, there is enough little interesting tidbits that could have been elaborated on in a full fledged co-op campaign, but instead it's "we need fuel, so capture hardpoints to fuel our space craft!"

So, maybe the fact that the game is devoid of singleplayer makes you weary because you aren't very good at multiplayer shooters. Well, you are in luck, this is where Titanfall really sets itself apart from the crowd. You don't have to be great, everything you do helps your team, killing AI controlled bots, capturing hard points, defending a flag, dropping in a Titan, whatever it may be you are rewarded for simply being a part of your team. When I was playing on the 360 I was a better on the ground as a Pilot than I was in my Titan. Well there is a solution to that, by dropping in your Titan and pressing down on the D-Pad will put your Titan in either Guard mode or follow mode. In Guard mode your Titan will defend a position while you are elsewhere, in follow mode your Titan acts like a guard dog following you wherever you go and engaging anything and everything around you. Perhaps you are better in a Titan, well, killing the AI takes time off your build time, hacking turrets takes time off your build time, killing Pilots takes time off your build time, Burn Cards can take time off your build time. It allows you to play to your strengths, and contribute even if you never even scored a hit on a Pilot. It's refreshing, and even when I was having a bad round against real players, I was still able to help my team.

Titanfall is available only on Xbox 360, Xbox One, and PC. So, is there a definitive version, or is there a reason why you must have this on Xbox One? Not really, Titanfall plays exactly the same on 360 as it does on Xbox One, it might be slightly sharper on Xbox One, but it is more so on PC. Titanfall is incredible and addicting and should be experienced, but it isn't the reason you should run out and upgrade your 360. Hopefully Respawn takes care to not allow EA to milk the franchise for all it's worth, and instead really works to make Titanfall 2 even better. Hopefully next time around we can have a formal campaign. 8 out of 10.