I have to admit that I wasn’t exactly chomping at the bit when I’d first heard of Titanfall. I’d read some first impression reports that just said meh to me. Here’s a conversation that I had at the time with a gaming friend just before Titanfall was released in order to illustrate my point further:
“Yeah, it’s basically Call of Duty or Battlefield with giant robots,” he said.
“What is?” I knew what he was talking about.
“Titanfall. Oh, and did I mention that there’s wall-running too?”
“Are you serious?”
“As a heart attack. Isn’t that the kind of game you like? Lots of hopping around?” he laughed.
I snorted contemptuously. “Oh great, so the hyper-fast-twitch twelve year olds with the attention spans of goldfishes on crack can bounce around on the walls now too, huh? Yeah, I’m going to play that right away…”
Needless to say, I’m a PC gaming guy who absolutely loathes the whole fast-twitch gaming thing. I tend to be drawn to games that force me to think about my next move, and that’s after developing a cohesive strategy in the first place. I’m even okay with more fast-paced shooters like Insurgency since it still emphasizes teamwork, more often than not. But Titanfall…
So, I recently decided to be a little more open-minded and so got my hands on a copy of Titanfall. I was like: “what the heck, if it sucks super badly I’ll just switch it off. It’s not as if some black hole is going to open up on my gaming PC and suck me into a realm of prepubescent bunny-hoppers for all of eternity or anything like that.”
Okay, I’ll come clean—the real reason that I wanted to play it was because yes, I was twelve years old once myself, and used to watch a little Saturday morning cartoon called Transformers, you may have heard of it. Well, to tell the truth, Titanfall intrigued the little tyke in me so much so that I just had to try jumping into one of its much vaunted and ballyhooed about features: the ability to pilot giant robots.
Titanfall, developed by Respawn Entertainment, combines the ever-popular First Person Shooter genre with giant mechs. Normally, one would think that these two factors would be incongruous as giant mechs rampaging around on a battlefield with puny humans is akin to bulls stomping around with a bunch of fluffy little bunny rabbits. To my surprise, from the first time I played Titanfall, I saw that that wasn’t the case.
One good sign was that there wasn’t a bunch of greedy grifters hanging out by the Titan respawn points. By the way, there are three distinct classes of Titans. The Stryder is lightly armed and armored, but nimble and hard to hit, the Orge is a towering hulk bristling with weapons, but is slow and easy to target, while the Atlas falls somewhere in-between, having moderate armaments and mediocre speed.
As I joined the battle, I immediately noticed that crewing a mech felt more like wearing a giant suit of armor, or an exo-suit, rather than a rigid, take-twenty-minutes-to-rotate-to-left-or-right metal behemoth. While it was a blast to run up to a fresh Titan that just dropped to the ground, have it pick me up within its metallic grasp, and plop me down in its pilot seat, it wasn’t fun being a big ol’ target. While rampaging around in a Titan suit gave me the opportunity to shoot some rockets at enemy Titans or perforate a few troops with my minigun, I think four minutes tops was the longest I lasted in one.
On the other side of the coin you can play as a standard trooper (or pilots as they’re called) and this is where the more standard FPS aspect of the game comes into play. These more diminutive combatants do indeed zip around on the battlefield like angry wasps, double jumping and wall-running with their handy little booster rockets.
This is where I could tell the whole Call of Duty crowd seemed to congregate and cut loose. I could see pilots leaping back and forth, springing around like little hyperactive frogs to their hearts’ delight. I imagined many a twelve year old sitting behind their computers furiously mashing buttons on their keyboards and flicking their mouse this way and that, all the while wearing out their left and right mouse buttons. But hey, when in Rome do as the Romans, I told myself. In little time, I was spastically darting around myself, like some sort of famished mosquito close to a large rotund cow; I have to admit it was guilty fun.
Visually, as with most triple-A games, Titanfall is gorgeous to look at. The mechs gleam and glimmer in the sunlight, weapons and character models look realistic, and environments and scenery are all breathtaking and well thought out. One thing I would have liked to have seen was more variety however, as you can’t paint your mechs nor add any decals on their chassis’. It also would have been cool to be able to upgrade your mech’s limbs, such as turning one of them into a weapon, or customize your visor to have special abilities, etc. I guess I was expecting something a little more along the lines of the Transformers in that regard.
There is no campaign and there isn’t any co-op as well in Titanfall. Everything in this game is aimed towards multiplayer. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but in the end just about everything is centered around team (or singular) deathmatches and capture-the-flag matches. While I played Titanfall’s multiplayer for a while, it did tend to get tired after a half hour or so, as everyone just kind of does their own thing with little regard for teamwork or strategy.
I found Titanfall to be a fun, quick blast, in spurts, much like adding too much sugar to your coffee. It takes off fast and should keep aficionados of fast-twitch style gameplay occupied for quite a while. Like Call of Duty, it’s super-fast paced, looks slick, and has that corporate shine that most triple-A titles can deliver since they have the means. Those looking for something a little more meaty underneath all the glitz and glam, however, may become bored with it and migrate over to games that require more grey matter usage, such as Project Reality or Arma 3.
Titalfall has powerhouse graphics which require a powerhouse gaming PC in order to realize them fully. Now might be the perfect time for an upgrade: