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Titanfall Review

publisher: Respawn Entertainment
developer: Respawn Entertainment
genre: Shooters

ESRB rating: RP

release date: Mar 11, 14
» All About Titanfall on ActionTrip

We all know shooters on the PC have been done to death. So, what chance does a new shooter in today’s market have? What can possibly be added to make people take notice, put down the nachos and start playing yet another shooter? Being one of those jaded gamers, I was skeptical when Titanfall was unveiled last year, so I naturally watched the E3 preview and made some snarky comments. Then the ‘Titan’ fell into the scene and I involuntarily groaned “Giant Robots!” out loud. Giant robots get my blood pumping like nothing else (Yes, except very large squirrels, Vince. Don’t forget those. – Ed. Vader). Following last month’s Beta, I became a true-hearted fanboy. But now I got a chance to play the full release.

By now everyone should be familiar of the soap opera between Infinity Ward founders Jason West and Vince Zampella and Activison that lead to the birth of aptly named, Respawn Entertainment (more info here). Titanfall is the first title to come from Respawn. EA was, of course, quick to snatch the opportunity to act as publisher.

Set in the future when man has left Earth to explore and settle the galaxy. The Earth may have been left behind the fight over resources and governance was not. Two sides in the battle have formed: The IMC and the Militia.

While Titanfall is multiplayer-only, you can get the backstory on each side and why they are fighting by playing the Campaign mode. In fact, even if you care a load of Dingo’s kidneys you still play through the campaign mode as you get some beneficial unlocks by doing so (more on that in a second). Minor spoiler here: there is no clear ‘Good Guy’ in this conflict, but in the end it does not really matter as playing either side does not have advantage or different gear. But enough of the boring background let’s get to the important stuff: giant robots!

The player takes on the role of a Titan Pilot who drops (literally) on the combat field with a jump-assist boost pack and a mix of player chosen gear: primary weapon, side arm, Anti-Titan weapon, ordnance (things that ‘splode) tactical ability and a two item kit that adds other special abilities. This same system applies to your Titan as well, allowing you choose differing chassis, weapons and special abilities, which in turn allows for further differing customizability from other players and to your play style. Players complete ‘challenges’ (number of kills with a specific weapon, pulling off a move or even just calling down your Titan) to gain experience that will lead to higher levels and unlocks new gear and abilities that can be slotted into the appropriate spot. This is not a new concept to multiplayer shooters, but it’s a nice carrot that keeps you playing well beyond your allotted game time to get to that next level.

The better you do in each round the more XP you earn. Simple, familiar and it works well. The only frustration I have with this system (in Titanfall or any game that uses this system) was trying to be patient enough when coming in as a new player and with just the stock load out and going against someone with much better gear. However, the learned XP and challenges are balanced enough that the levels and unlocks come pretty quickly. The addition of Burn Cards and being able to call in a Titan also help.

Burn Cards are gameplay modifiers that are earned for playing well or pulling of certain challenges. You can ‘burn’ these cards in-between respawns to gain extra XP, shave time off your Titan delivery or get access to ‘amped’ weapons for the round. The ability to call down your Titan starts on a timer at the start of the round. As you take out opposing Pilots and Grunts, the countdown is reduced incrementally. Grunts are computer controlled AI that do not have access to Titans and scurry around the battle field aiding in the conflict. While they can be viewed as crunchy, Titan- call reducing fodder, if you are not careful they can surprise you. I have (sadly) been taken out by the Grunts a number of times now. Better to shoot them on sight. Also they provide some colorful background chatter as they comment on your performance on the battlefield. Pay close attention as you play and will be rewarded with snarky comments and praise for your actions. My favorite so far came after an enemy pilot was crushed under a teammate Titan’s foot when the Grunt commented that he’d have to clean that out of his treads. Good stuff.

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9.0   Excellent

Giant robots, well-polished, smooth flowing rock-paper-scissors combat model with man vs. man, man vs. Titan and Titan vs. Titan, adding the vertical component to gameplay is a welcomed addition that works well, leveling system keeps you playing for the next unlock, lack of profanity is a huge plus in my book, did I mention Giant robots?

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