Created by Respawn Entertainment, a company built by former Infinity Ward developers, Titanfall is more than Call of Duty can dream of becoming in the multiplayer front, but falls short in pretending that it has a story.
Given their deep and storied history of FPS development at Infinity Ward, it’s easy to see why Jason West and Vince Zampella brought the newly formed Respawn Studios straight to the forefront of the FPS market with Titanfall. As the creators of the series which defined Call of Duty’s multiplayer front on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, Titanfall is in more than able hands as Respawn has built the title on exclusively multiplayer game play. Featuring a host of customization options, the futuristic shooter plays out as something of a mash-up between the familiar CoD franchise, Quake, and a dash of MechWarrior.
Titanfall is an amazing piece of multiplayer content – pure and simple. Gone away are the flat and mundane landscapes of Call of Duty. Say goodbye to the sluggish and incapable boots of Battlefield. As a Titan pilot, you are built for agility and speed, and in Titanfall your understanding of this idea is the difference between players who will rely on killing grunts, and those who destroy Titans.
At its core, Titanfall is all about versatility. Any player at any level can pick up Titanfall and find a niche where they excel; in Titans, as a Pilot Hunter, or as a Grunt killing machine. Each of these choices provides a varied point allowance which reflects the difficulty of your task. One point can be earned by killing a Grunt, four for killing a player, or five for destroying a Titan. Certainly this does not mean that you’re going to become a Titanfall expert overnight, and the game wasn’t built “for the noobs”. Titanfall can certainly be played at a very professional level – it’s just not a professional level because of your map memory, but more because of your actual shooting skills. With the inclusion of the ridiculous level of parkour ability each Pilot has, there is practically no correct map route as Call of Duty might seem to have. Having so many vertical options, and with any number of “burn cards” at your disposal, as long as you can see it you can likely land on it and rain havoc from above.
Titanfall is a multiplayer experience built on and for a multiplayer experience, which is why I am more than confused by the notion that a game specifically built around playing together even pretends to have a campaign. The lackluster campaign in Titanfall pits you as the IMC or Militia against the opposing force through a total of 9 maps – in entirely multiplayer content. Waiting along in the lobby, both teams will listen in on a one minute back story for each of the 9 maps, followed by singular team perspectives as your pilots fly into combat. This combined one and a half minutes of audio or brief cut scene is all you’ll find of a campaign storyline, aside from a brief blurb when your team reaches the extraction point of combat. It is more than notable that this extraction audio turns out to be the same exact phrasing regardless of whether your team wins or loses. Given that all 9 maps play sequentially, there is no reason why the audio couldn’t be more dynamic based on the outcome of a match – especially considering as Titanfall on PC is comprised of around 30 gigabytes of audio, according to the extraction process during installation. Despite all of the points mentioned, the multiplayer “campaign” is necessary to gain the full game experience as it unlocks two more Titan Mech types for your multiplayer combat. Two full play-throughs will have you prancing around in the Stryder and Ogre Titans in about 2-4 hours, depending on the length of your matches.
Given this campaign perspective, I do feel as though Titanfall could be a complete experience on its own. Had they simply left the option for a campaign out of the game and added the introduction and outgoing audio in the “classic” lobby match types, the game would feel complete. The inclusion of an entire menu for a so-called campaign is more of an annoyance in this way. It’s simply a way to play these 9 maps consecutively as more of an introduction to the maps, and could have been executed much more effectively if players under level (x) were required to play the campaign style multiplayer before they can get into the real deal.
Graphically, as a triple-A title, Titanfall doesn’t break the mold. Having a new Sapphire R260X graphics card (~$150 USD), Titanfall can be played on nearly maximum graphics in 1080P. Though Titanfall plays well with textures and lighting, there isn’t much about the game that sets it apart from what battlefield 3 was doing years ago – and nothing in the environment falls apart quite the same. Considering that this is Respawn’s first game, and the budget isn’t anything of what Battlefield can rake in these days, that makes sense. There is no immediate rush of realism in Titanfall, but the immersion is certainly there, and when you tear open your first Titan and start spraying your weapon into the chassis, you can still appreciate the detail that has been put into the game.
Titanfall is also quite polished, though glitches can be noted. Not once over 22 hours of play [according to my Origin profile] have I encountered a wall run I can’t attempt, and bouncing off a corner like a ninja has never sent my Pilot off into space. The game has been well balanced for players who are more proficient at killing Grunts, as well as Pilots and Titans. Given enough time to employ strategy a player can lead their team by any of these methods, though they generally have to sacrifice one proficiency for another – a fantastic display of the experience that Respawn Entertainment’s development team has. Textures load as designed, and physics operates as expected, showcasing that Respawn didn’t just push a product out their door, but rather they surveyed it and fixed the errors well before shipping. Given that Titanfall publisher Electronic Arts has a recent history of shipping broken games [Battlefield 4/Sim City] this is a fantastic change.
Titanfall plays out as a daily shooter. It’s terrific to relax to, and is great to play for hours. If you’re looking for something to change up the pace a bit, but you don’t want to feel lost in the shuffle, Titanfall is fantastic. If you were looking for an absolutely beautiful game with a deep and rich story, Titanfall might not be your jam. Titanfall is about kicking ass and doing so in the most extravagant way possible. It’s about the “WOW!”