The first-person shooter (FPS) genre remains the most popular video game genres in the world, with Call of Duty and Battlefield leading the charge. However, there has been much criticism, particularly from enthusiasts, about how little modern shooters have changed over the past decade. In a clear response to that criticism, new-kid-on-the-block Titanfall seeks to shake things up, but is it the savior many feel the genre needs or just another Call of Duty wanna be? Let’s find out.
Created by Respawn, Titanfall is a multiplayer FPS that pits players into a futuristic war between two different factions wielding giant, heavily-armed robots and other spiffy technology like highly-functional and integral jetpacks. But considering multiplayer is the game’s selling point, there isn’t much in the way of story.
There is a campaign mode consisting of 9 multiplayer matches that you play through twice: once as a member of the overbearing galactic corporation known as the IMC (Interstellar Manufacturing Corporation) and a second time as a freedom fighting Militia. Respawn tries to create a coherent narrative and context for the conflict between the two factions, but fails to deliver anything innovative or compelling.
The idea of bringing narrative context into the intense gameplay of a multiplayer shooter is novel, but the execution leaves much to be desired. Most of the story is reduced to background noise in the frenetic action that is Titanfall.
Gameplay & Multiplayer
Story aside, Titanfall was developed around multiplayer first and foremost and it is in this area that it shines. Summoning a Titan for the first time and seeing its drop down from the heavens, ready to make mincemeat out of your enemies, is a truly memorable experience indeed. The matches are varied, fast-paced and intense, while all weapons have a great feel and a strategic use.
There are 15 different maps to choose from, all capable of holding up to 12 players. While that might seem little, Respawn focused its resources on delivering maps that are well-thought-out, fair and engaging, ones that strongly accommodate the core gameplay styles of the jetpack-wielding, wall-climbing soldier “pilot” and the intimidating, highly-destructive walking tanks.
Speaking of the titans, they are divided into three archetypical types, one focusing on raw destructive power, another on speed and one being a jack o all trades but a master of none. Each is truly unique, allowing you to tailor them to your own play style.
To stand up to the Titans, pilots are equipped with a myriad of tools — namely cloaking and speed-enhancing stims — that help them to safely get up close to them, climbing onto their shoulders and blasting their nerve centers. But be warned, the giants robots have “bug” zappers, among other defensive capabilities.
Titanfall is about balance — the maps are balanced, weapons and abilities are balanced, and the gameplay between soldiers and titans is balanced. Some of the best gameplay moments occur when two titans face off against each other as supporting pilots engage in battle around them. The action is so intense and the maps so well designed that sitting in a corner waiting for someone to come by will often get you killed. This is not a game for campers.
There are five game modes to choose from — Attrition, Last Titan Standing, Hardpoint Domination, Pilot Hunter and the good ol’ Capture the Flag — which is not enough for any modern-day shooter, let alone one that prides itself on multiplayer. A solid progression system allows you to level up and gain access to more powerful skills for both your pilot and Titan.
Graphics & Sound
Titanfall is an AAA title, so graphical expectations were quite high. Fortunately, it delivers the goods. Everything in the game looks gorgeous, from the vivid and dazzling maps to the pilots and titans that populate them. The character designs are superb and their animations fluid, while the weapons look and sound as how you would expect futuristic weapons to look and sound. Hearing a 12-foot tall robot engaged in combat near you is as thrilling as it is nerve-wrenching.
The soundtrack is comprised of various action-packed tracks that blend well with the intense gameplay. Though it won’t win any awards, it gets the job done.
Titanfall is a breath of fresh air in the first-person shooter genre. Although it lacks a compelling story and a large selection of game modes, its addictive multiplayer offers thrills unlike most other shooters, providing fast-paced gameplay that is as balanced as it is adrenaline-pumping. The maps are superbly-designed, eschewing quantity for quality. Weapons, abilities and gameplay systems all play together very nicely to deliver a grand experience.