Review: Titanfall. It does live up to the hype

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Titanfall is a game that’ll rip your face off. It’s a very fresh take on first person shooter games that gets a lot of things, very right. Battles are vibratingly furious and explosive wall-running is just fun that never gets old. Opening the world to the vertical axis to create a two-tiered war platform was brilliant. Titanfall is the perfect blend of the wall climbing Assassin’s Creed and the military action of Halo. The weapons are diverse and giving the humans (or pilots) anti-titan weapons that take a couple of accurate locks, was a stroke of genius which levels the playing field, despite the size difference.

Gameplay

Don’t play this game for the story, there basically isn’t one, not one you’ll care about anyway. The game is just good clean, fast paced enjoyment. Regardless of your experience levels in FPS, you should do the tutorial, it’s one of the best and reminds me a lot of Portal in the way it walks you through the controls without being patronizing. After learning how to wall run and hack, you can then progress to the action.

There is no single player, local gaming experience for Titanfall, even the Campaign is played online. This works by progressing through missions against the AI, while playing with other noobs. This gains you XP while allowing you to learn the game against pretty modest opponents. The AI isn’t particularly challenging for someone who learns quickly or has played any other FPS. Not having a local option will no doubt piss some people off, as will the lack of a LAN support.

The good news is you’re not forced to reach a set level before heading to the real heart of this game, the online battles. There’s a generous number of battle types with all the standard favourites there, as well as some new modes that are a very welcome inclusion that adds to the diversity of gameplay options.

There’s plenty of multiplayer FPS experiences that are terrible, with game matching algorithms being closer to magic than science, but Titanfall seems to get things right. Far too often level 3 gamers will get paired in matches with level 45s and getting slaughtered is about as enjoyable as having a titan standing on your junk.

Naturally there’s sub-objectives or challenges that run parallel to your overall objective of leveling up and kicking ass, these unlock weapons, loadout slots and more. One of the most enjoyable is hitching a ride on the shoulder of a friendly or enemy Titan. There are few things in life that are more satisfying than ripping a player from his titan, or ejecting from yours and having explode, taking out enemy players around you.

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The resolution question

There’s been a LOT of discussion online about the resolutions of games on the Xbox One and Titanfall is no exception. Being one of the most anticipated games of the year and holding the fort until a new Halo arrives, the 720 vs 1080 debate is incredibly active. After playing Titanfall, the game is gorgeous and the resolution just doesn’t matter. If you’re stopping to look closely at a wall, first of all you’re likely about to die, but secondly, the resolution may be noticeable, maybe.

The answer to this question is actually incredibly complex. Elements like your eye sight, the quality of the display, your distance away from the screen all play into your eye’s ability to resolve the pixels in an intelligent way. The point here is that the actual pixel count doesn’t matter nearly as much as you think it does. As developers spend more time with the hardware of the Xbox One and it’s new architecture, they’ll get much better about extracting the best frame rate at the best resolution and there will be no question, but we’re about 12-18 months away from that point.

For now, just forget about it and game on.

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Requires Xbox Live Gold

This is the first game I can remember that requires Xbox Live Gold to play, at all, period. We’re used to games requiring Kinect and in the 360 days you could opt in or not to that, in the Xbox One version, every console ships with a Kinect so this became a non-issue. Every console doesn’t come with an Xbox Live Gold Subscription, so you’ll need to pony up the $60-$100 per year. From the reaction online, most seem ok with this requirement, given they enjoy other benefits of Gold, but there is a loud minority that are against developers heading in this direction. It’s possible some of the anxiety is around the resale value of the game, it’s a lot harder to sell a disc that doesn’t work without additional payment.

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Overall

Developers Respawn decided to fragment the International release date for this game and that was a terrible decision for one simple reason. Experience is everything. When it comes to gaming, what really counts is level ups, weapons unlocks, flash cards and most of all know the layout of maps. That’s a critical piece to the success or failure in a match. Whilst the strategy of spreading the server load makes a lot of sense, it hurts gamers in countries after the first launch date.

The USA got Titanfall on the 11th of March, while Aussies and other parts of the globe have to wait till the 13th of March. While 2 days doesn’t sound like much, that’s about 40 hours that a gamer could be ahead of the competition (assuming the copious consumption of caffeine). Some smart Aussie’s took the chance and used the technology to obtain the game early. Xbox Live games are now powered by Microsoft’s server farms and since the announcement of the console, Redmond has been touting the fact that they have 300,000 servers available for developers and gamers to leverage.

There was a number of hours today where those Xbox Live servers were experiencing issues and a lot of users were unable to play. Respawn were quick to avoid Titanfall being blamed for the outage and firmly pointed the finger back at Microsoft. While infrequent, this does highlight the issue of a game not having local play.

Overall Titanfall is a fantastic new franchise for the Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC gamers. It’s fresh, interesting and most importantly just plain fun to play. The biggest question now will be the schedule of DLC that keeps the game fresh until Titanfall 2. If you’re still not quite sure if this game is for you, it is.

Also.. Life is better with a Titan.

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  • Sav

    Cool, can’t wait. Tonight is my night:)