Other Take

Titanfall Review - Through the Eyes of a Lapsed Combatant

  • Game release: March 11, 2014
  • Reviewed: May 7, 2014
  • X360
  • PC
  • XONE

Reach for the sky.

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Peter hasn't found a competitive shooter that he's truly liked since Halo 3, and was delighted enough with Titanfall's gameplay that he played around 20 hours between the PC, Xbox One, and Xbox 360 versions before writing his review.

I grew up playing competitive shooters like Quake and Unreal Tournament, but these days, it's rare that an arena-based first-person shooter holds my interest, as evidenced by the fact that I've failed to connect with one since my tenure on the battlefields of Halo 3. I've looked for new suitors, but my efforts to reenter the fold with military-gilded games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3 never lasted more than a couple of hours at best. I thought they were good on their own terms, but they didn't deliver significantly different experiences from other games I'd played in the past. I came close to reconnecting with the genre in 2012, when I thought I'd found a shiny new friend in Tribes: Ascend, but I was let down by maps that didn't capitalize on Ascend's style of movement; they simply made room for it. With Titanfall's promise of parkour-inspired mobility mixed with intense man-on-mech combat, I was hopeful I had finally spotted my boat back to shore. It was another military shooter, but one set in a futuristic conflict with massive mechs that I could interact with by leaping into and out of the cockpit as I pleased. If any shooter was to appeal to my tastes, this was the one.

The transition back into the world of competitive shooters wasn't easy. At first, I felt that I was unfairly at the mercy of other players because I couldn't grasp exactly how they were spotting and killing me. After several rounds and educational deaths, I knew why: I was looking at Titanfall through old lenses. Unlike in other shooters, gravity is much less of a hindrance when you have a propulsive jump kit that allows you to run on walls and double jump onto the top of buildings. While I was busy running on the ground, peering around corners, my opponents were leaping off of billboards, scaling buildings, and hanging on walls above doorways, handily shooting me when my back was turned. Before I learned the importance and nuance of using every inch of the environment, I was a sitting duck. A brief tutorial introduces the concepts of wall-running, double-jumping, and piloting a titan, which is useful from a mechanical perspective, but it only taught me what I was capable of. When it came to learning how to survive against other players, there was no better classroom than the battlefield.

Thankfully, there were a few tools that gave me some much needed aid, including the smart pistol, which I quickly learned could be my best friend during a difficult match. This handy weapon lets you lock onto multiple targets if they spend enough time in the pistol's generously sized reticle, subsequently delivering lethal hits to ground troops. Once I got the hang of it, I was able to spend more time learning the ropes of movement and less time worrying about precision aiming at the start. Eventually, however, the smart pistol began to feel like a crutch that was limiting my potential. Given the time it takes for the smart pistol to lock on to enemies, I would eventually have to switch to less-forgiving but faster-firing weapons in order to remain competitive, and that would require target practice. Luckily, most modes incorporate simple, AI-controlled enemies, which are an easy source of experience points and target practice, allowing me to unlock more powerful weapons and bolster my proficiency with traditional guns.

Titanfall also incorporates temporary upgrades known as burn cards, which grant power-ups that can give you an edge beyond your current abilities. Burn cards affect weapons, skills, and cooldown timers for both pilots and titans, and they're doled out steadily at the end of each round, but since you're working with limited inventory space, it's best to use them as often as possible. Learning which burn cards are best suited for your style of play is important from a strategic standpoint, as they allow you to access weapons and powers that may lie five or ten levels ahead of your current rank.

It was another military shooter, but one set in a futuristic military conflict that put mechs front and center. If any shooter was to appeal to my tastes, this was the one.

Despite having to learn a few new systems, most of the competitive modes are immediately familiar: you vie for enemy flags in Capture the Flag, you claim and protect disparate strongholds in Hardpoint Domination, and in both Attrition and Pilot Hunter battles, your only goal is to kill your opponents. Both titans and pilots are targets in Attrition mode, but Pilot Hunter only rewards pilot kills, which significantly alters the importance of titans in battle, making them more of a means of defense than offense. Alternatively, Last Titan Standing pits teams of titans against one another over the course of four rounds. Fall in the middle of battle, and you're stuck on the sidelines until the next round.

Attrition is by far the most exciting mode of the lot. The mix of titans and pilots is thrilling and chaotic, and though pilots are dwarfed by titans, their agility should not be underestimated. In the right hands, a pilot's jump kit can be advantageous during close-range combat, allowing them to mount a titan (referred to as rodeoing) and attack its most vulnerable spot, potentially destroying it and forcing the pilot to expose himself during ejection. Sometimes this occurs when two titans are in a face-off and a pilot slips in unnoticed. Less aggressive pilots may do well to use their heavy anti-titan weapons from the safety of distant cover if they've grown too familiar with the underside of a titan's foot, however.

Warring titans present the perfect opportunity for an inventive pilot to score a few extra points.

Marksmanship is an invaluable skill, but Titanfall elevates the importance of environmental awareness, and this shift enables a new type of player to succeed and revel in the competitive arena. The entire world is your sidewalk as a pilot, but it takes an experienced eye to recognize the subtle paths that run through the ruined cities, buckled space structures, and massive, derelict airships. You can brute-force your way across a map, but these environments are waiting to be exploited by fleet-footed and keen-eyed soldiers. Experienced players have a small advantage, but years of aiming down sights and understanding traditional maps can't prepare you for wall-running combatants with invisibility cloaks. It's important to keep moving, because your opponents are just as likely to come from above as they are from your side.

Jumping into a titan introduces a whole other series of lessons, since you can no longer leap off of walls and onto the tops of buildings like a pilot can. Unless you're playing the Last Titan Standing mode, titans become available after the first few minutes of a match. You can summon them immediately to your side if you're in an open area, or the game will automatically choose the closest locations with proper clearance for you.

Although you can order your titan to follow you on foot or roam freely, you'll undoubtedly spend a lot of time in the cockpit. Titans control like massive soldiers without jump kits, but they can still be relatively nimble when they need to be. Rather than solely marching with a heavy foot, titans are capable of dashing in short bursts to avoid fire and pop into or out of cover, and different classes mix up the ratio of speed and armor to suit different play styles. Titans also possess extreme abilities--like the vortex shield that lets you catch and return enemy fire--which make for explosive and riveting exchanges between enemy titans.

Once I'd grasped the extent of my new abilities, which took a few hours, Titanfall became everything I'd hoped it would be. Fighting on foot as a pilot with the ability to run along walls and leap into second-story windows felt liberating, and when the mammoth titans came into play, I was David or Goliath depending on the moment, and each perspective came with its own sense of empowerment. Titanfall delivers a compelling competitive experience by mixing these two types of units on the battlefield, culminating in explosive and chaotic matches unlike anything I've experienced before.

The only thing missing is a rich single-player campaign. It simply doesn't exist. Titanfall is a pure multiplayer experience, and while it excels in that regard, it fails to form a meaningful link between you and its world. There's a story that provides the necessary context for a military conflict, where two human factions vie for resources and territory, but the events that take place during the online-only campaign are largely meaningless. You have no identity, there's no source of emotional inspiration, and the sole motivation for playing the campaign--twice--is for the new titan chassis that unlock at the end. These add a little variety to your titan loadout options, but it's not so great a prize as to justify forcing you to play through vapid and paltry narrative trappings.

Campaign issues aside, Titanfall's expert mix of light-footed pilots and massive Titans brings something entirely new to the competitive arena. These systems mesh perfectly with existing shooter tropes, and the combination of new and old has reinvigorated my interest in a type of game I had all but written off. If getting back into shooters after Halo 3 was challenging for me, I can only imagine how hard it will be to find a game that can live up to the new standards set by Titanfall.

The Good
Titans add an exciting new dimension to the traditional shooter model
Excellent mix of gunplay and platforming mechanics
Acrobatic movements fit perfectly within creative map designs
The Bad
A world and story that are hard to relate to
8
Great
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for Titanfall

About the Author

Peter hasn't found a competitive shooter that he's truly liked since Halo 3, and was delighted enough with Titanfall's gameplay that he played around 20 hours between the PC, Xbox One, and Xbox 360 versions before writing his review.

Discussion

181 comments
WhisperingCrab
WhisperingCrab

I'd give Titanfall a 6. I wasn't that impressed. There's no competitiveness to it. It's the same way I feel with Call of Duty games, they just don't give you the urge to really want to win, you just want to have more kills than deaths and you're satisfied. Halo 3 had a great ranking system, you win and do well you rank up, you lose you go down. That's how these games should be. You can keep the social system, but they should add a ranking system in like the old Halo games.

hcgamingdad
hcgamingdad

A 9 is the minimum Titanfall should receive. This game is amazing! I'd deduct 1 point fir abject lack of story and weak campaign.

evilbhai
evilbhai

This guy is a lapsed combatant.. talking about fps days in quake.. wow you took a good break from gaming? or was it some dull WoW you got into huh

bobbo888
bobbo888

You guys gotta stop with the alternative reviews

Gravity_Slave
Gravity_Slave

Don't know why he's so hung up on the story. Half Life had the lamest story but it was the MP that made it great. Get over it and move on.

emerin76
emerin76

Ive put alot of hours into this game.  ~40.  (that's a lot for a guy with a wife and 48/hr week job who studies part time..imo)
how many hours have you guys been putting into this gen's batch of new titles? 

hahamanin
hahamanin

Every Fps game that comes out exclusively on ms consoles are utter garbage but every Fps game that comes out on ps are so breathtakingly awesome..... i just read these in the comments section nowadays...i laugh at resistance and killzone

Polygon_Pariah
Polygon_Pariah

Ahh see what Gamespot did here? They gave in to the whiny anti-shooter gamer snobs with a "2nd review" to take it down a notch from a "Suberb 9" to an 8. Nice Flip flop guys.

Titanfall is one of the freshest and addicting multiplayer games out there now. With such a weak next gen launch, Titanfall pulled thru. This is why I've been going to Gametrailers more. GS isn't what it use to be. And what's with all the Brits?

MooncalfReviews
MooncalfReviews

He liked Halo 3? Which means the opinion here isn't worth taking into consideration.

ScottOakley
ScottOakley

So I can play Planet Side 2 for free which you gave a 9 and it allows me to play with more than 1000 people at the same time? Or I can buy this for $60 which you rated an 8, and play with les then 12 people and some bots?


What a decision.

chyng85
chyng85

Quite looking good, worth a try~ 

andmcq
andmcq

This is clearly a 5/10 title. Why even pretend it's not? 

robbiejones
robbiejones

Here's my take.


Half the time your shooting clumsy AI.


The Titans move like humans, and shouldn't take two hands to hold a gun.


6 vs 6 is a low count for HUMAN player's.




computerheat
computerheat

I am rather glad that the developers did not include a half-baked single player campaign and instead focused their attention on making the gameplay and level design tight. The story is probably crap - I've played through the campaign several times and still have no idea what is happening - but it is actually told in an interesting way. I couldn't tell you the names of any of the characters or their motivations, but I was glad to be spared long expository cutscenes and talking head dialogue, and I felt that the plot-chatter in-game made the world feel more alive.

RevLux
RevLux

@Gravity_Slave  The story and single player campaign in Half life 1 and 2 were beyond awesome imo.

NTM23
NTM23

@Gravity_Slave  You get a down vote because that's either bad sarcasm, or you're living in your own world where everyone thinks like you.

GregoryBastards
GregoryBastards

@emerin76  Iv honestly not even put 10 hours and i have both the consoles....im still mostly playing on ps3 and pc..... 

martinburke
martinburke

@emerin76  I'm almost level 50, kinda the same situation as yourself, so thats a lot of hours . i do enjoy the game looking forward to the DLC which i will purchase as long as it's not a complete rip. next gen titles are not really doing it for me atm , maybe i'm just getting old but i miss Unreal Tournament. great to hear the new UT will be free.

RevLux
RevLux

@hahamanin Almost every platform has it's fare share of awesome FPS games.


Resistance: Fall of Man was an incredibly awesome game when it came out. I'm hopeful that Insomniac's Sunset Overdrive, though completely different than Resistance, will be equally as good.


NTM23
NTM23

@hahamanin  I think both can be great... As for what's on new-gen consoles right now, neither of them (Killzone/Titanfall) was I really impressed with, but they're good.

rad8045
rad8045

@Polygon_Pariah It's called a different opinion, the whole gamespot crew does not get together and decides what score the team is going to give the game after each review , they are scored to how that particular reviewer saw the game.

RevLux
RevLux

@MooncalfReviews  I think you are mixing up your "A cool kid's guide to games that are cool to hate." It's Halo 4 that's cool to hate right now. Not Halo 3. Though both were great games imo. Halo 4 just had issues with it's multiplayer.

cvantu
cvantu

@MooncalfReviews though I am not a Halo fan, your comment is entirely stupid. A lot of people liked Halo 3. During its release, people weren't burned out on the series and was excited to see the then "next gen" offering of the game that helped define multiplayer competitiveness for first person shooters. Sorry you're too "cool" to realize this.

cvantu
cvantu

@ScottOakley they offer completely different experiences, so your logic doesn't apply here. Sure, they are both shooters, but as the same between a game like Skyrim and a game like WoW. Skyrim would be an absolute blast just to travel the world with a single friend and could possibly be ruined and less focused by adding 1000's of other players into the world (Elder Scrolls Online is struggling to make that adaptation by trying to keep the ES feel and not turn it into every other online multiplayer RPG in existence).


Titanfall is a blast with its 12 players. It fits the design of the game quite well. More players doesn't = a better game. Hell, as much as I enjoy Battlefield, the amount of players on the field makes the game feel less "personal". That is one problem with large scale battles for me. With smaller amount of players, you can get into revenge mode against players, just like how older online shooters were (and why Gears of War is a popular choice).  

fede018
fede018

@ScottOakley "play with more than 1000 at the same time" lol, that's marketing BS. You can only play with 30 people or so. The rest of the people are elsewhere and you're problably never going to see them. 

Also you have to grind like a MF to buy any weapon

greasemonkey42
greasemonkey42

@ScottOakley  If you've played the game you'd know that the 12 people count with 3 second respawns keeps the game plenty hectic. It can get as hectic as 64 player Battlefield 4 games; if not more consistently so as the players aren't strewn across some super expansive map. Respawn (the developer) knew precisely what they were doing with the player count. It simply works and plays well.

Polygon_Pariah
Polygon_Pariah

What's clear is you have never bothered to play Titanfall. What's the matter? You pissed mommy won't buy you an X1?

cvantu
cvantu

@robbiejones Here's my rebuttal:


1.) Yes, if you're deliberately going after the AI. I see plenty of better players that consistently take out 10 or more pilots a game, and they are always at the top of the boards.


2.) You're just reaching for a complaint there. Maybe you should try working in game design so you can understand how balance works. Considering Titanfall offers a very balanced game between so many mechanics (both pilots and Titans), your complaint just proves your lack of understanding and ability to be perceptive.


3.) I guess Gears of War was even worse with its 4 vs 4 game play? Again, this is a choice based on the type of game they were creating. Gears of War would have been chaotic if it went 16 vs.16. Titanfall is extremely chaotic with 6 vs 6. This was a design choice to keep the balance intact. I would not protest with a higher player count pilot only battle, but normal Attrition rules would be daunting by adding more players.

RevLux
RevLux

@computerheat  Of course you wouldn't want a "half baked" single player campaign. Though I would have loved a good one I understand why they felt they needed to martial their resources to get the multiplayer right. Since they claim that most people who play games like CoD don't finish the single player. Personally though I love going through the campaigns before entering multiplayer. Especially when they are well done and the story and game worlds are fleshed out. It makes me enjoy the other parts of the game far more when they have some context.

Angry_Mushroom
Angry_Mushroom

@computerheat  


A bit of text would have been nice.  For most of the game I thought I was fighting for an Admiral Grapes.  Found out later it was Graves... 

Gravity_Slave
Gravity_Slave

A. You can't down vote anymore genius.

B. You're a hypocrite. You try to trash what I said but go on your own little insult session.

Considering those two. I think it's you who lives in their own little world. Now do everyone a favor and start hitting your head into something more dense till the stupid stops.

NTM23
NTM23

@rad8045  This should just be common sense now. It's pathetic...

Gravity_Slave
Gravity_Slave

They should of had two reviewers on every game anyway. Ever since Tom McShea botched "The Last of Us", you can't trust one reviewer, especially if they're not even into the genre.

ScottOakley
ScottOakley

@fede018 @ScottOakleyI agree that 1000 people is quite BS, but 30 people is even more BS. Just now I started a battle, I checked my log and there were more then 300 in the zone. I unlocked a weapon in about 20 minutes so that too is a false statement. 

silversix_
silversix_

@greasemonkey42 @ScottOakley you put 4 people inside a box with 1 sec respawns and it'll be hectic... doesn't mean its any good chaotic fun. Titanfall is a below average game worth a 6/10 if you've played enough boring CoD and a 7/10 if you enjoy shooters but haven't played one in years (dunno how this would happen nowdays since all we get is copy/pasted shooters)

RevLux
RevLux

@Polygon_Pariah  You don't need an XB1 to play Titanfall. It plays great on the p.c. and even the 360's version is pretty good.

robbiejones
robbiejones

@cvantu @robbiejones  Regarding 2.) It's a valid complaint IMO. Your meant to be in control of MACHINERY! why can't they have dual wield heavy guns?. I'm sure the old COD developers could of worked something out with the "balancing" issues regarding that. Then again i'm not expecting much from them. Also the game feels repetitive, even though you have double jump, wall hang etc... the game play just feels OLD and we've done it before, even though there hasn't really been a multiplayer adding all those features (from that i've played atleast). The game doesn't feel fun TO ME, and seen the sales it didn't grab people's attention who go to bf4 and COD. I respect that you read what i had to say, and you took the time to go over my complaints. 

robbiejones
robbiejones

@cvantu @robbiejones  Yeah make the two titans Bigger and more powerful! I guess that's why i was bummed because i thought that how the game was going to be. Hopefully in the next game!! quality > quantity of the titans.

cvantu
cvantu

@robbiejones Now you're thinking. How about an 8 vs. 8 pilot mode where each team gets one Titan on the map at a time? That alone would create a new type of experience and may keep the balance to remain with more players added in the game.

robbiejones
robbiejones

@cvantu @robbiejones  Yeah i see your point. I can see why you like the "twitchy" aspect, i to am good at both twitch based, and battlefield style "flank" approach, and did have fun with getting out of the titan to kill rodeo's and going back in etc.. it is very "quick" with EVERYTHING! Maybe down the track they can add more player's, and bigger maps etc. Be cool if they had a mode when each team has only 1 titan and you gotta protect your titan while trying to take out the enemies. I don't know if there already is that game-mode, because i only played the "normal" mode.

cvantu
cvantu

@robbiejones @cvantu It may just not be your style of shooter. For instance, Shenmue was a great game for me, but for plenty others, it was too slow and boring, and anime style 3rd person RPGs were more appealing to them. Did that make Shenmue a bad game (even if you had to do forklift races everyday while working at the warehouse)?


I am not a big fan of the shooter genre. I don't strategize all so well in a game like Battlefield. I have great twitch reflexes, but I'm not so great a coming up with good executable strategy. However, Titanfall offers more of a style that I have always been good at. My reflexes matter more in that game. My quick reactions apply more. It's less of a game about slow approach and more of a game of just going out and doing what you do. The style is different and caters to different folks. Apparently it just doesn't fit your personal style for what makes a shooter fun. That is perfectly alright.


I still think you're reaching on complaint 2 though. They probably could have done that, but you're also ignoring the countless other mechanics that they had to tune to fit the balance. Even if it sounds like you're adding a single and easy layer to the gameplay, I think you're underestimating how much additional work that would cause to keep it balanced.

Titanfall More Info

  • Released
    • PC
    • Xbox 360
    • Xbox One
    Set in the near future on a distant frontier torn apart by war, Titanfall drops players in the middle of a conflict between the Interstellar Manufacturing Corporation (IMC) and the Militia.
    7.1
    Average User RatingOut of 1004 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Titanfall
    Developed by:
    Respawn Entertainment, Bluepoint Games
    Published by:
    Electronic Arts, Microsoft Game Studios
    Genres:
    First-Person, Team-Based, Action, Shooter, 3D
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature
    All Platforms
    Blood and Gore, Strong Language, Violence