The likes of the Battlefield and Call of Duty series have held the FPS limelight for many years. A few have tried to get a slice of that lucrative FPS pie, such as the rebooted Medal of Honour series. However the industry leaders have thick armour, the kind of armour that only a giant mech wielding rockets could pierce. The developers at Respawn Entertainment, which was founded by two ex-Infinity Ward developers, may have just the thing.
I am of course talking about Titanfall. Now if you are reading this review with a clenched fist, out of anger, it’s understandable. We’re well aware that EA dropped a bomb on us South African’s just days before launch. I dropped my fair share of F-bombs out of frustration before discovering other ways of getting to this mech action. But were my efforts in vain?
Let me first start by telling you exactly what Titanfall is. The best possible explanation would be that it’s an ‘online only’ FPS, which draws heavy inspiration from the last fifteen minutes of the movie District 9. It even has the kief South African accents bru. What makes Titanfall literally stand above the countless shooters that have come before it are the towering Titans themselves. These death-dealing machines will drop out of the sky in cinematic fashion about two minutes into a round. You can speed up the delivery of your Titan by getting kills. Once you have run down the timer, by hitting up on the d-pad, your Titan will drop from the sky. When it touches down you get jump in and start dishing out the pain, however you are by no means indestructible.
Other Titans will take you down fast if you don’t use your shields and counterattacks carefully, such as absorbing all your enemies’ bullets and rockets into an energy ball and then launching them back at your foes. Enemy pilots on foot can be just as deadly as a twenty-foot because they have heavy anti-titan weapons that deal out a lot of damage. To add to this they can mount a rival Titan and empty their machine gun clips into its computer parts and wires, which as you can imagine is not a good thing.
Pilots are not easy to shoot because they have jet packs that help them run on walls for brief moments and double jump over Titan’s. They can even attach themselves to walls in high places to get the drop on you. It’s this balance between players on-foot and players in Titans that makes Titanfall so exciting to play. It allows you to decide on your playing style, which in return provides the ‘multiplayer only’ title some good variation. You might only be up against 11 other players, but the action is so fast-paced that you’ll be praying for those hefty load screens.
That’s right, expect six versus six online battles. The developers are however very clever. Titanfall’s design, in terms of hiding the fact that there are so few players, is camouflaged with grunts. Grunts are soldiers, controlled by AI, and the reason this is clever is because killing opposing grunts still rewards you with XP. So even if you are having a poor round you will most likely get a good few grunt kills in, so that you don’t feel like you actually played all that bad. This keeps the rage-quitting at bay as every round is rewarding in some form.
The rewards for playing badly does not stop there though. If you lose the round there is still a chance to get to a drop ship for evacuation. Getting onto it successfully rewards you with more XP. It also makes you feel like you ‘stuck it’ to the winning team by getting away, even though your team was just annihilated.
In true Call of Duty fashion you can upgrade your weapons and you have several perks to choose from for your pilot as well as your Titan. There are three Titans to choose from ranging from a light to heavy class. However upgrades are not the only perks you can use in-game. There are fifty burn cards to use at your disposal.
You unlock these burn cards mid-game and, before each round begins, you get to choose three cards to use for that round. You can only activate one at a time so you have to choose wisely, such as using a burn card to speed up your titans delivery time right at the start of a round.
At the end of the day Titanfall certainly did not fall short of my expectations. I have put almost 40 hours into it and it is still my go-to shooter for a quick few rounds of carnage. The visuals are not mind-blowing but they certainly get the job done, and the overall design of the game is a breath of fresh air in a world filled with corridor shooters. There is no single player and no local servers, however, even with pings at around 190, my experience has been an enjoyable one. As long as you have a decent ADSL connection it shouldn’t stop you picking up the game. If you’re not willing to wait towards the end of this year for a local release you might have to hunt for an Origin code, but the hunt is well worth it.