There has been a lot made of the exclusivity of Respawn’s first project, and the faith that Microsoft have shown in the title as the first genuine system seller of the now current generation of consoles, but now that it has finally arrived, has it lived up to the hype?
In the UK, since the game’s release, Xbox One sales have shot up 96% as a direct result, but the beauty of Titanfall is that it is a game that simply has to be experienced first-hand, and it will not be long before both software and hardware sales explode across the globe. So, from a Microsoft perspective, it will confirm their own hopes for the game as their greatest weapon in finally emerging from under the rampant negativity that first surrounded their new console. And for those lucky enough to play it, it will surely appear as the finest online shooter around, and rightly so.
However, as good as Titanfall is, there are certainly a few flaws to it. In the wake of the so called “resolutiongate” scandal, Respawn’s effort will hardly prove to be a showcase for the Xbox One’s disputed power, running at a native resolution of just 792p, it is still unable to maintain an entirely solid 60fps, especially when the screen becomes cluttered with Titans. Low resolution textures and screen tearing are perhaps too common a sight as well, meaning that from a graphical standpoint, Titanfall is pretty far from the standard that one would expect from a “next-gen” title, especially one as publicised as this.
The matchmaking system employed by Respawn also leaves a lot to be desired, as does the campaign itself, this being just nine back to back multiplayer matches played out in a mixture of hardpoint and attrition game modes, held flimsily together with hackneyed dialogue. Though whilst it employs the much vaunted cloud processing for AI, it is hardly the all-encompassing showcase for the Xbox One console that many were perhaps hoping for, but thankfully, Titanfall is simply so good, that even its technical shortcomings can be brushed aside.
The mixture of gaming stalwarts, mechs and parkour, may not appear to be a particularly original one, but neither have been experienced quite like this before. Titans trudge through the maps attempting to crush stray pilots underfoot, whilst the latter navigate the well balanced maps with a brilliant combination of wall running manoeuvres and jet packs, meaning that the balance of power between the two is never lopsided in the favour of either group. Titans can battle it out and whittle down one another’s shields, whilst pilots can clamber upon them, exposing internal mechanisms and cause severe damage with small arms fire, ensuring that the most deadly players are those that use all of the skills available to them.
However, the most revolutionary aspect of Titanfall is the fact that the game is designed to be an inclusive experience that allows all gamers to play and enjoy online matches, ensuring that they can record kills and acquire Titans of their own. Each match begins with the player on foot, with a timer that counts down until a Titan is ready to drop, this timer can be decreased as players record kills against opposing pilots, Titans, grunts and spectres; the latter two groups of enemies offering easy kills to all players. It is a game that you can come back to months or even years down the line without fear of humiliation, and that has been far too long in coming.
There was a certain degree of animosity across the internet at the announcement that matches would be restricted to just 6v6, but games are so perfectly balanced and thoroughly action packed that they can leave players breathless with the sheer wealth of explosive and dynamic encounters that occur throughout each and every match. Canned sequences in the game are restricted to the arrival of the Titans themselves, which come crashing down with a thunderous roar, leaving players to enjoy the spontaneity of their encounters, to savour games filled with moments worth retelling to friends or sharing across Xbox Live via the console’s DVR functions. However, it must also be noted that the range of game modes available are fairly limited and generic, and the maps, although designed to cater to the strengths of both Titans and pilots, are somewhat lacking in variety and rather sparse, but of course Respawn will be looking to complement this existing content with additional material in future updates and DLC packs.
Simply put, Titanfall is fast paced, insanely fun, and, whilst it may not be entirely revolutionary, it is still enough of an evolution of the twitch shooter for it be quite unlike anything that you will have ever played before. It is also neither a sterling graphical showcase, and on the strength of its visuals alone it is unlikely to turn heads, however, Titanfall stands as a magnificent example of substance over style; it is a wonderfully balanced, incredibly fun and thoroughly breath-taking example of the power that the seemingly tired FPS genre can still afford us, resulting in a truly essential purchase.
-James Paton @theblackpage81