I won’t tell you this is a legendary game that’ll redefine the FPS genre for years to come (That honor still belongs to Halo 3). I won’t tell you this game changed my view on multiplayer-only games (I refused to buy it until it was at a reasonable price, which I did do). However, I will tell you that the game accomplishes what it sets out to do, in such a way that many of the complaints I do have about it (and there are a few) are practically overshadowed by them.
The premise: you’re a pilot in either the IMC (evil corporation) or the Militia (ragtag freedom fighters), you walk around through six or seven levels of multiplayer campaign fun, and then you do it again through the other side’s perspective. If it sounds somewhat short and underwhelming (that’s what she said), that’s because it is. The campaign (if you could call it that) plays like a Spartan Ops from Halo 4 or Spec Ops from Modern Warfare 2: fun the first time, repetitive the second, and bloody annoying by the fifth. And you have to play these missions twice if you want to unlock all the titans, which I felt was unnecessary (leveling up would’ve been better if you ask me).
This is where my first complaint comes into play: first, I think the game needed a real campaign, with real missions. I felt like everything in the background had been designed with the intention of creating a campaign for it, yet it was repurposed for the multiplayer for X or Y reason. Whatever the case, I think it missed a good opportunity here; the Titan’s mechanics feel like they would’ve made for very interesting single-player missions, and I genuinely hope that if there is a sequel (knowing EA, there probably will be) that they take advantage of this and make a damn campaign.
My second complaint comes from the fact that the game is pretty bare. There’s multiplayer, the special ops (I will refrain from calling it a campaign from this point on), and that’s it. No theater, no map editor, no nothing. And while I understand these aren’t exactly standard-issue features of an FPS game (as far as I know, only the Halo series has both, while CoD and Gears of War have only recently implemented theater mode), I do think that since the campaign has been eschewed, they should’ve included these features in its stead. I mean, the game is selling itself on its superior multiplayer; if you ask me, these features should’ve been mandatory, especially the theater mode. I also think this game would’ve made for pretty interesting machinima scenarios as well, and I think they also missed a good mark here; admittedly though, there’s always the possibility of this being available as DLC (shudders), so time will tell. If anything, I just hope they learn from this game for the sequel (and there will be one).
My third and final complaint comes from several different parts of the multiplayer, but they’re so tiny I need to address them as a whole (note: these are all personal now). First, each faction has creeps: specters and grunts. There’s no real difference from these, except for you being able to hack specters, and their main purpose (if you ask me) is to provide you with points so that you can summon your Titan. Because really, once the other team has three titans and yours has absolutely none at all, you’ll come to appreciate these little bastards, especially since they’re so easy to kill (you can strangle them with a cordless phone). The problem is that they're actually worth points in some game types, like attrition. It feels like an easy way to inflate one's own score, but admittedly, I think I'd hate the game even more if the other team denied us our Titans through their sheer skills (which has happened before).
The second part I didn’t really like are the team sizes. I feel like 6v6 doesn’t do the game justice, and 8v8 or maybe even 10v10 (what? A guy can hope) would’ve been much better. Then again, there’s way too much shit going on in every game (titans falling, auto-turrets, creeps, etc); a part of me suspects that if they had implemented 8v8 or 10v10 teams, I would’ve complained about lag or something else. So while I don’t think it was a good choice, I think it’s respectable (to a certain degree).
Finally, there’s multiplayer maps, and this is where I really need to dish out a heavy hand of criticism. Some maps feel extremely compressed, while others feel pretty decent. Admittedly, there’s people who play this game like they would play CoD, which doesn’t really work in the map’s favor. However, when five or six titans are stuck in the same intersection fighting over one or two important objectives (and this will happen a lot, mind you), one really starts to wonder whether the developers paid close attention to what they were doing. I’m not saying it’s their fault, but I do think they could’ve prepared for this sort of situation, especially since the game had a beta.**
“So why does the game have four stars?” You’re probably asking yourself. “Why, it’s because it’s pretty damn good!” Is my response. Respawn entertainment was founded by individuals who worked on the Call of Duty series, and when I first bought it, I immediately thought the game would play just like it; however, I feel it plays much more like Crysis mixed with Battlefield than CoD. The maps are highly vertical, and you can pretty much move everywhere if you know how to time your jumps, and the wallrunning feels smooth and (more importantly) fun, especially when you use a combination of wallrunning, double jumping, and wall jumping in order to get to that perfect sniping spot (whereupon you’ll be torn to pieces by a Titan that just happened to notice you). The guns are also surprisingly well-balanced, and they feel very powerful in your hands; rather than focus on a bazillion guns like CoD and Battlefield, the game gives you a small assortment of weapons, ranging from standard rifles, SAWs, rocket launchers and snipers. While they feel standard and uncreative, they work very well, and no gun feels more powerful than the other (my favorite gun is still the default assault rifle).
And now for the meat of the game: the Titans. These large, lumbering hulks of metal drop from out of the sky once you’ve made enough kills or scored enough points (either works), and the way they drop is just as impressive. These things are MASSIVE (also what she said), and they feel powerful to use. Surprisingly enough, they are also extremely accessible, feeling just like an extension of the pilot’s body (a fact the game has a tendency of smugly reminding you), allowing you to get into the action as soon as you summon them. And lemme tell you, there’s nothing quite as satisfying as executing another player’s Titan with a bunch of melee attacks (except perhaps rodeoing it). What few balance issues I found were more my lack of understanding the game rather than actual imbalance, which was also a surprising (and welcome) change of pace. As of this moment, I’ve spent most of my weekend playing the game, and I’ve no regrets at all about it.
In short, Titanfall has pleasantly surprised me beyond my expectations. It’s fun, challenging, accessible, and surprisingly functional. For thirty-six dollars (I feel I need to mention the price because had I bought it full-priced my opinion may have been different), the game was very well worth it, and I hope the issues I’ve mentioned above are taken to heart by Respawn because the game is extremely fun. No, these guys didn’t redefine the genre; no, this isn’t an evolution of gaming; but that doesn’t take away from the game’s many merits. I’ve had no regrets purchasing this game.
Here's a clip of gameplay:
**Edit: There's one more issue I should've mentioned when I first wrote this, and that's the issue of no split screen. At first, I thought it would've made the game much better, but I'm glad it doesn't have it because it would've damaged the game from a technical perspective. Don't let this stop you from playing this with friends though; it's really fun.