Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Call it when ready - Review: Titanfall

Some games ride in on a wave of hype and crash full on in our faces, trumpets sounding and champagne falling from the sky. Think Bioshock Infinite, Gears of War, any Grand Theft Auto.
Others they ride that wave in and it dribbles to a halt on the shores of disappointment - Look up Brink.

Titanfall lands with a resounding thump firmly in the former category. When its fast paced, epic moment filled gameplay was first revealed it became apparent we had something big on our hands and Microsoft’s exclusive deal on it was a potential game changer. This game would sell the Xbox One and they knew it.

Of course the PS4 camp took to the Internet and put the game down at every opportunity, decrying its lack of 1080p - the element by which all games should now be judged apparently. It all smacked of simple jealousy and there’s no doubt that when Titanfall 2 arrives on their system their tune will change.

But the haters’ efforts were all, inevitably, for nothing as Titanfall landed to fanfare and sold consoles by the shed load.

But is it any good?

Well the short answer is yes. A slightly longer one would be God yes.

The gameplay is fast, smooth and looks the business. But above all else - thanks to the variation between fighting on foot as a pilot or in the massive hulking machines of the titans - the game is just plain fun. Serious fun. The wall running mechanic for the pilots is a thing of beauty that has you navigating the environment in new and inventive ways not even seen in Halo.

Once you reach a certain level in multiplayer you will unlock the use of Burn Cards. These are earned after each game and you can use them for various effects like a longer lasting tactical ability, an improved version of your primary weapon or a reduced build time for your titan. 
While the Burn Cards are lost as soon as you die, you’ll find them to be surprisingly tactical and you’ll be saving particular ones for particular game modes.

The game modes vary from Attrition - your basic team deathmatch - through Capture the Flag and Hardpoint Domintion to the titan-only mash-up, Last Titan Standing.

The game encourages epic moments and feats of outlandish action and with the wallrunning, jumping and the calling in of titans you are given the tools to carry them out.

But is it all sunshine and rainbows?

There aren’t a great deal of customisation options for your character and not many weapons to choose from. In fact the gun you get at the start, you may well find you’re still using at the end. My main criticism of the game though lies with the campaign - or lack thereof.

Titanfall is an online-only game and the campaign consists of a series of multiplayer matches with a few events occurring on the maps or a bit of talking bookending the matches. I’d like to comment on the story, but without the cut-scenes and character development (however slim) that we are used to in games like Battlefield and Gears; the story of Titanfall becomes an incoherent afterthought. 
Winning these campaign matches means nothing at all and you are never punished, nor does the story change if you lose. The campaign marches on regardless.

If it wasn’t for auto-disconnects due to inactivity, a mate had it spot on when he said you could join the campaign, go and do something else for an hour, come back to the console and you’ll have completed it.

It says so much for how great a multiplayer experience this game is then that we can overlook such a lacklustre effort on the campaign. If you have an Xbox One or a PC that can run it, Titanfall is a must buy. It may well have changed the multiplayer arena. And if you’re still on the last generation, the word is the Xbox 360 version of the game is just as much fun.

Titanfall - It isn’t perfect, but it’s close. And it puts a titan-sized smile on your face.

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