Next-generation’s Titan has arrived
| Jay Benedict reporter |
“Titanfall” is a fast-paced first person shooter (FPS) that is almost elegant in its simplicity and that’s also what makes it so damn fun.
There’s a game in every console generation that becomes the measuring stick that subsequent releases are compared against. Respawn Studios may have just given us that with “Titanfall.”
Fanboys and detractors have followed the hype-train that’s been behind this game since its reveal at the 2013 Electronics and Entertainment Expo (E3).
Questions and rumors actually started following it when two years earlier, “Call of Duty” (CoD) alums Vince Zampella and Jason West announced it was their first project after a bad break with the best-selling video game franchise of all time.
West ultimately left, but Vampella and a core team from Infinity Ward, the studio behind the Modern Warfare series of CoD, have finally released their first game. They bring all the talent and experience that created two of the most popular console first-person shooters (Modern Warfare and Modern Warfare 2) to the table.
What they’ve created is the biggest release of this young console generation. It’s also the biggest console exclusive thus far; meaning Microsoft has exclusive rights to “Titanfall.” While it’s available on PC, Microsoft is betting on it being the boost it needs for its Xbox One console to catch up with Sony’s PlayStation 4. In the four months since their releases, Sony has outsold Microsoft by more than 2 million units.
Microsoft is so focused on ensuring this is “the game” to have for Xbox One, that the Xbox 360 release feels like an afterthought. It’s coming out two weeks later and the port was farmed out to a different studio.
All things considered, though, it feels like a safe bet.
“Titanfall” breaks the mold of console-centric shooters. The game’s maps are large and intricately designed, but only allow for six players per team. It’s also lacking one of the most ingrained features in the FPS genre: the single-player campaign. The “Titanfall” team has elected to focus in multiplayer only, which is probably for the best, because the genre isn’t known for telling great stories. Games like CoD and the “Battlefield” series have campaigns that sometimes feel like tacked-on afterthoughts.
“Titanfall” pits the two six-man teams against one another as rival factions fighting over the remnants of a desolate, war-torn planet. Each player starts on foot as a “pilot.” They are given countdown until they can call in a “Titan.” Eventually, AI bots are thrown into the mix for each team. Killing other players and bots decreases the Titan countdown. When the Titan is ready, the player can call it in at any time.
At first glance, jumping into a hulking, 20-foot-tall mech warrior might seem like the ultimate advantage, but it’s not. That’s where part of the brilliance of “Titanfall” comes in. You feel like the ultimate badass taking down Goliath when you’re playing the part of David.
Pilots are quick, agile and can run and jump up walls, in and out of buildings and onto rooftops. Titans are slower, but can take and dish out more damage. The balance comes from the nimble pilot’s ability to sneak up on a Titan, jump on, and put a quick end to it.
There are three Titan classes. One is agile, yet weak. One is well-rounded. The last is slow, but is a sponge for damage. Pilots can play the parts of different classes and use anything from pistols, assault rifles, snipers and anti-Titan heavy weapons.
Players having trouble finding a load-out that works need only to wait to move up levels. Leveling doesn’t really make you more powerful; it gives you more options.
“Burn cards” are temporary power-ups that last for one life and are handy if you’re having a tough game.
The game types are the run of the mill. There are variations of death-match, capture the flag and “hold this point longer than the other team.” Game types are easy to create and implement, though.
Honestly, this game is not complicated.
Novice players could pick it up and start doing damage immediately. Everything feels balanced and players can go about destroying each other however the like. And, it regularly churns out moments that are worthy of boasting about.
There have been few moments in gaming that have left me in awe as much as leaping off a roof onto a death-dealing metal monstrosity, riding it like a bucking bronco until I caused enough damage to make the pilot to eject, then hopping off, calling in my Titan and watching it descend from orbit to crush my opponent and what was left of his Titan.
“Titanfall” is not your ordinary console FPS. In the past, multiplayer-only has existed mostly on PC. However, those games, like “Counter Strike” and “Team Fortress” are two of the most enduring online series. If that’s what Respawn and Microsoft were aiming for, they just might have hit the mark.