Titanfall Review (Xbox 360)
"Pilot... Standby for Titanfall!"
As many people ought to know, Jason West and Vince Zampella were former co-founders of Infinity Ward, the studio notoriously known for the Modern Warfare titles. Because of a severe disagreement between the two founders and publisher Activision, West and Zampella were fired due to a "breach of contract". There is much more involved here but now is neither the time nor the place, so we'll save that for another time. Instead of wallowing in the loss of their jobs, West and Zampella went on to create Respawn Entertainment. Little did we know, Respawn would go on to start development on an online only experience, which swept the world up in a whirlwind storm of hype and excitement. Titanfall is the first game to come from Respawn Entertainment and if this is any sign of what's to come from the studio, Respawn looks to have a very, very bright future ahead. Developed for the Xbox One, PC and Xbox 360, Titanfall was mainly marketed to the Xbox One because Microsoft wanted it to sell big on their new console in the hopes of it boosting sales. While I hold no doubts that Titanfall on the Xbox One is the biggest title so far for the console, is it really worth spending the extra cash?
If you plan on only buying Titanfall for the Xbox One, the answer is no. Besides the obvious graphical differences, all three versions of Titanfall play exactly the same. I decided to not buy an Xbox One because I didn't want to spend so much money for only one game when I could wait until it came out on a system I already own. Even though I was subjected to the belief that I was buying a shoddy version of the game, this is not true in the slightest; I'm extremely happy I waited on the 360 version. Just exactly why does Titanfall have so many people jumping up and down for joy in the first place? Getting the obvious out of the way first, we have mechs people. Big mechs called Titans and the player can control three types of Titans, Atlas, Stryder and Ogre, each with their own unique ability and differences in how they play. When the battlefield is packed with Titans battling each other for dominance, sometimes I just couldn't help but marvel at the intensity and say "Wow, this feels like an actual war!" The action is fast paced and delivers a huge rush I've not felt in a long time. It also may be hard to believe but each match felt balanced thanks to neither the Titans nor Pilots being overpowered in anyway. When I say balanced, I mean campers can easily be dealt with, cheap tactics can be overcome with precision and Titans are able to be destroyed even by the average foot soldier.
To explain more in detail, campers usually find a nice quiet spot to make camp and await any unfortunate soul right? This works well in mostly every other shooter but considering how in Titanfall wall running is a necessity, campers will find it harder to hit their target due to said target more than likely being overhead. Cheap tactics like trying to use a Titan to overly dominate the field can be made void by a skillful player and this ties into the "average foot soldier winning against the Titan" point. Because Pilots not only have a double jump ability and helpful perks, anti-titan weapons are the bane to any Titan because of how powerful they are. Add to the fact that Pilots are also super agile and can ride on the backs of enemy Titans to attack directly at their health; players will find Titans are indeed powerful but not invincible.
Just so that we are all on the same page here, Titanfall is completely online only. Meaning, if people don't have an Xbox Live subscription or internet for that matter, they cannot play Titanfall at all. I don't know how many people I've talked to that were surprised to hear they couldn't play Titanfall without a subscription.
In terms of gameplay, people will be delighted to know how easy this is to pick up and play. First-Person Shooter (FPS) mechanics are all over; seeing how it's the same genre and all. Players will run, wall run, wall jump and perform all sorts of cool maneuvers thanks to the game's free running potential. Imagine sprinting down a street, only to jump and run along multiple walls, to then manage a jump aboard an enemy Titan and taking it down by shooting it's vulnerable core... sounds awesome no? Free running gives Pilots the power to take down these massive, hulking Titans and look cool while doing it.
Matches are fast paced and way too intense, almost like feeling I was transported to these battlefields and actually took place in them. Whether I was play Hardpoint (Domination) or Attrition (Team Deathmatch), it didn't matter; each and everyone of the matches I took part in felt like an actual warfront. Hardpoint and Attrition aren't the only modes available to play but rather the two I'm more familiar with. I promised myself I would expand into the other modes but only if I have a reliable team.
Besides the two I just mentioned, players can partake in Capture The Flag, Last Titan Standing and/or Pilot Hunter, all of which are team based. At first, I wasn't sure what Pilot Hunter was until I got a few rounds in and discovered that it is the same as Attrition but only counts Pilot kills as opposed to everything in sight. For players looking to mix it up, Variation Pack combines all five modes into a grab bag. Finish a battle of Attrition and you could soon find yourself in the next game with 12 Titans on the field in Last Titan Standing. Standard operations in FPSs call for a rank system and that's just what you get in Titanfall. The level cap is 50 but through Regen (Titanfall's Prestige), players can sacrifice their hard earned weapons and attachments to transcend into a higher generation. No perks come from using Regen except for stroking egos and prides by giving a emblem next to the player's GT. It also adds to Titanfall by giving more replay value to the people. Instead of just dumping countless hours into matches to Regen, after Generation 1, players have to meet certain requirements as well as hit the level cap again before moving to the next generation. Before I can reach Generation 3, I must do a number of requirements, one of which has me scoring a certain amount of kills to enemy Pilots with the shotgun.
Someone asked me recently what Titanfall was all about. I told them it's all about the online experience but then they threw a curveball at me. "What's the plot about?" After fumbling with a few words, I simply responded "I have no clue." The "campaign" injected into Titanfall is so nearly identical to the regular online matches, sometimes I wasn't even sure which I was engaged in. As far as I'm concerned, the campaign is just an excuse to unlock the Stryder and Ogre Titans and that's it. So to me, I often question why Respawn even bothered with a campaign option. Again, besides unlocking the two titans, the classic matches and campaign are identical to the letter. Sure, the campaign has some in-game dialogue but unless you have the subtitles on, you probably won't know what's going on. Even with the subtitles, I didn't take the time to deviate my eyes away from the more important aspects of the screen. Titanfall could have done without a campaign considering how easy it is to forget and by being almost virtuously pointless.
Titanfall doesn't have a lot of substance but easily makes up for this factor by ensuring the amount of quality easily surpasses its lack of quantity. As was previously stated, Titanfall only comes with five different modes, six if you count the Chex Mix option. I have personally had a blast playing and not once in my time, have I had a completely horrid experience. There may only be a limited amount of modes but each match felt completely new and the tide of battle could turn at any moment. Titanfall may be the new FPS on the block and gathering major attention, however, I'm probably not the only one wishing more modes were available to have at the ready. Always better to have too much of something than want for more. People looking for a load of variety like in Halo, Battlefield and Call of Duty might be disappointed with Titanfall and its lack of. Missing out on the campaign could also be another blow since the campaign here is hollow and bland. While I don't have a problem always being connected online, others could find that irritating especially if they are in a location where internet isn't the best around. In short, Titanfall is not without its faults but that's only to be expected from a new studio working on their very first title.
Come into Titanfall expecting too much of what is considered standard FPS manner and you could find yourself walking away, longing for something more. This title is more about the experience, not how many different ways it can be experienced. Friends also help make the time spent here much more enjoyable.
+ Free running is made simple and easy for newcomers but enough depth for vets.
+ Aside from graphical difference, the 360 version runs just like its next-gen brother and PC.
+ Most balanced FPS I've played to date.
- The campaign, oh wait... what campaign?
- Not a whole lot of variety involved here.
I've walked away from Respawn's Titanfall feeling astonished by the simple, yet calculating free running and the Pilot-Titan balance. Titanfall most certainly does not reinvent the wheel but it adds a number of modifications that I'm sure we'll see in future FPS titles. With DLC and the inevitable sequel on the way, I'm looking forward to Respawn's bright, potential future. Give Titanfall a shot and who knows; you may just get a thrill every time you hear: "Pilot, Stand By For Titanfall!"