by Quinn Levandoski, reviewed on
In Greek mythology, titans were ancient deities of near-immeasurable power and awe. It is fitting, then, that developer Respawn Entertainment has chosen to name its first released game after these beings of immense spectacle. Everything in Titanfall is designed to overclock your adrenaline glands without pause, and for the most part it is a great success. Made up of many of the ex-Infinity Ward employees responsible for Call of Duty’s meteoric rise, Respawn Entertainment, wears its inspiration on its sleeve delivering a gameplay experience with some similar mechanics and same buttery smoothness as their previous work while simultaneously launching it into new territory that completely feels like its own animal. A few nitpicks notwithstanding, Respawn has delivered one hell of a first game.
Clash of the ...
The big draw in Titanfall is the ability to pilot the game’s namesake 3-story tall metal death machines, and the game’s fate largely rested on how well they controlled and how balanced they would end up being. Mech games are great, FPS’s are great, but putting them together could have easily resulted in an un-balanced and un-fun amalgam of everyone sitting around camping until their robot is ready. Luckily the Titans feel great and straddle the fine line of really making you feel powerful while not seeming cheap or over-powered. The mechs here actually feel a lot more agile and mobile than many traditional mech games, instilling the sense that you are more like a pilot in a big exoskeleton suit than a rigid machine.
Of course this varies with each Titan model, of which there are three. The Atlas model is a jack-of-all trades offering serviceable firepower and mobility without excelling at either, while the Ogre is a slow, lumbering powerhouse and the Stryder is quick to move and quick to die. Titans can be customized to a point- each one can be given one of a handful of weapons, abilities, and minor boosts.
The options are serviceable, and there’s definitely room for strategic differentiation, but I’d have loved for some aesthetic options. In a multiplayer-only game, this would seem like a no-brainer. Why can’t I add some paint jobs to my Titan? How about some unlockable cockpits/limbs? The ability to tell a Titan to “follow” you or “guard area” also opens up more strategic opportunities. I, for instance, don’t even pilot my Titan very often. I prefer to have it follow me and distract other Titans so I can hop on their back and shoot their circuits out like a psychopathic rodeo cowboy.
The other side of the gameplay coin are the pilots. It is with these pilots - as the standard avatars that you will play with are called - that the game delivers a more standard shooter experience. You make loadout, pick a few perks and roll out. It is worth noting that the perks are far less a staple than in games like Call of Duty. They add strategy but don’t fundamentally change the game. Disappointingly, there aren’t any aesthetic customization options for pilots either.
Whereas many FPS titles put the focus on the guns, providing dozens of models with small minute differences, the focus here is elsewhere. There are different weapons, ranging from an SMG to a shotgun to a sniper rifle and beyond, but you probably won’t spend hours poring over DPS and fire rate statistics. There’s only one option per weapon class. It’s about broad categories and feel. Rifles give range, shotties obviously promote getting up close, and my favorite, the Smart Pistol promotes stealth. The smart pistol has already been getting a lot of flak from the game’s detractors for being an “insta win” weapon, but it’s actually much more nuanced.
Given enough time the pistol will lock onto a target and deliver fatal shots, but this time is much longer than it will take an enemy that spots you to turn and shoot. It promotes stealth play, and excels at taking out AI enemies to farm some points. I actually like simplifying the guns, as it puts less of the focus on leveling up for new guns and more on mixing and matching a number of factors to fit your preferred play style.
Great sense of scale and action, tight controls, awesome parkour movement, and fantastic balance.
Disappointingly limited game modes, a very weak campaign, and no aesthetic customization.