Titanfall Xbox One Review
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
14I wonder, if Albert Einstein were alive would he would be bored of the FPS genre yet? As someone who has an almost endless appetite for pulling triggers even I find it hard to get excited each year as the same few franchises repackage the same mechanics.
We’re all still chasing that high, trying to get back to a time when a shooter captured not just your heart; but all your friends hearts too. When you would turn on your console the second you got home before you even read the mail to see who was online, then begrudgingly crawl into bed several hours later than your body required.
For me and for many 2007 was that year and Call of Duty 4 was that game, Titanfall is the next project from those “key developers” who created one of the largest franchises of the last generation.
We’re all still chasing that high
Strap inIt’s unsurprising then that it feels incredibly familiar, a painfully drawn out training sequence baby steps you through controls which are likely to already be burned into the reflex memory of most; but eventually they start adding layers of game play on top of those worn mechanics.
You play as a “pilot” who is incredibly nimble and agile; with the help of some handy rocket packs you can double jump, wall run and mantle your way around environments with satisfying ease. When you’re not on foot you’ll inhabit one of the titular Titans which dramatically fall into battle before swallowing you into the cockpit. Shooters are largely exercises in skill, people enjoy being better than others; as dull and repetitive as the genre may be that’s what keeps it alive. Using your surroundings and your knowledge of the maps was always important, Titanfall elevates them to being mandatory, and adds an important new skill to learn.
Those who breathe the genre will be very comfortable with the base mechanics, left trigger, right trigger, aim for head. This time the fun starts when people begin to rely more on their movement skills than their shooting prowess, wall hanging above a confused opponent who chased you round a corner, cutting someone off by taking a quicker route above them and shooting people in mid air are all valuable skills that can beat even the sharpest of shooters and are incredibly rewarding to pull off.
It’s clear the focus was not solely on the weapons and gun play as their implementation is the definition of bare bones. A familiar class system is in place allowing you to choose from a boiled down list of primary and secondary weapons, some throw-able ordinance, a short lived tactical ability and a couple of other passive boosts for you and your BFG.
The fun starts when people begin to rely more on their movement skills than their shooting prowess
Titan OnlineTitans are the never ending stream of giant mechanical exosuits that fall from the sky. From the start of the match everyone is on a timer of 4 minutes till their first Titan arrives. Doing almost anything in the game will shorten this timer, killing pilots, enemy AI and other Titans all take time off your countdown clock. As you hop into the cockpit and take control you are greeted with a sluggish version of the pilot combat. Titans are vulnerable and once their rechargeable shields are depleted your health will quickly follow. Get outnumbered by enemy Titans and it will take some tactical dashing and evasion to survive, worse still if an enemy Pilot manages to clamber onto your back you’ll need to get out and shoot them off or hope you have a countermeasure like “Electric Smoke” equipped. That's assuming you decided to pilot your Titan at all, a quick hit on the D pad will toggle it between Follow or Guard mode allowing the Titan to do it’s own wet work (albeit less effectively).
Titanfall is full of these options and asymmetrical confrontations, pilots can be killed by the powerful Titans instantly, however some canny traversal can cause a Titan a headache by bouncing around the environment and delivering the deadly “Rodeo” move. The three chassis types of Titan have their own set of characteristics, The Strider is nimble but has light armour while Ogre is a slow tank, the Atlas balances in the middle and each can be customised with similar options to the pilot load out.
Completing various weapon and game play challenges unlock Burn cards that grant single life boosts such as more powerful weapons or an unlimited version of an ability while in game turrets and certain types of AI can be hacked to fight on your behalf. Which ever type of battle you are in be it pilot vs pilot, Titan vs Titan or pilot vs Titan, you remain powerful and have options available, learning when to use what and turning different situations to your advantage is a fun dynamic and layering the Titan combat over the top of what is now conventional first person shooting makes for some addictive non stop action.
Titanfall is full of these options and asymmetrical confrontations
Noob FriendlyAlthough the chaos can be overwhelming the first time out, the universal Titan countdown ensures everyone gets a turn regardless. Populating the map with cannon fodder AI means even those with the dullest of reaction times can still contribute to battle and reduce their build time. Those experienced twitch players also now have many more targets to distract their eagle eye giving new lambs a fighting chance in the slaughter.
All of this is even more necessary than usual as the safe haven of a single player campaign has been dispensed with. Fully acknowledging the fact that most players spent the majority of their time on-line anyway, Titanfall is a entirely multiplayer focused game. The “campaign” is merely a set of multiplayer matches bookended with what you would struggle to even call cut-scenes with a distracting radio play and the occasional talking head in corner of your screen. Win or lose the dialogue simply twists the paper thin story through the same story beats until reaching the end.
As understandable as it is not wasting resources on something that a large percentage of your player base won’t even play, the absence of a campaign leaves a hole which campaign multiplayer can’t even hope to fill. The concept is interesting but it seems hopes of some varied objectives and meaningful characters or story beats were disappointingly premature.
Hopes of some varied objectives and meaningful characters or story beats were disappointingly premature.
Love deathmatch?Currently players are stuck with the same 5 conventional game types, 2 of which are essentially variants of the existing death match, domination and capture the flag modes. No doubt the season pass will help fill out the package but out of the box (or off the server) the offering is somewhat anaemic.
Before Respawn start eyeing up DLC content though there is still unfinished work to be done on the main product, although the player count is relatively small at 6 vs 6, piling on potentially 12 Titan's can take it's toll in some of the more intense moments as the frame rate struggles to keep up, it's an infrequent occurrence but it exists. A resolution bump would be nice but but a consistently solid frame rate remains the most important component for the frenetic game play
The absence of a campaign clearly paid some dividends somewhere though, although the game isn't breaking any boundaries graphically the 15 maps are presented exceptionally well, from the tight rooftops of Colony to the stretched out desert of Boneyard, each has been fine tuned to accommodate for the scale of both the Titan and pilot game play. Map design is intricately thought out as lines and routes are set out for you to discover and woven around giant pieces of cover while the background assets and numerous AI components do an excellent job of creating what feels like a dynamic environment.
Pilot, Your Titan is ready
- Remixes familiar yet fun game play
- Large selection of well made maps
- Non stop seat of your pants action
Eject!, Eject!, Eject!
- Paper thin single player
- Frame rate drops at times
- Needs more game modes
Titanfall Xbox One ReviewWhichever way you look at it there is a lot missing from Titanfall, a decent campaign, game modes, even small details like naming custom classes and leader boards. Despite all that the nucleus of game play is so well constructed it will have you pushing through to the level cap and resetting your progress to do it all again, not because that's just what you blindly expect to do in a modern shooter, but because you want to, whether you come top of the team and take away a giant haul of XP or prop up the bottom end of the table you're just as likely to have a smile on your face.
Titanfall is instantly familiar and invites you to use those finely honed skills in a new arena with new rules and options. It smartly caters for different skill levels and introduces a new strategic level of combat over the top which deepens and escalates the action. Repetition may eventually lead to insanity, but when the results are this good, it’s probably worth it.
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