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Review

Titanfall Review

  • Game release: March 11, 2014
  • Reviewed:
  • XONE
  • X360
  • PC
Aaron Sampson on Google+

High flying and heavy hitting.

by

When you look at Titanfall, it's easy to see the familiar. Most of the weapons, grenades, and abilities fill well-worn niches. Many of the environments are like the grimy villages and industrial complexes that have hosted countless online battles in dozens of other games. The competitive modes are bog standard. And yet, when you play Titanfall, it's impossible to shake the feeling that you're playing something special.

The key is mobility. Titanfall gives you the ability to leap, climb, and wall-run your way around the map, and these simple actions create an exhilarating array of possibilities. No longer constrained by corridors and stairwells, you and your foes engage in high-flying, freewheeling combat in which the sheer joy of movement makes the familiar feel fresh and vibrant. This novel brand of warfare is enough to heartily recommend the game, but that's not all that this multiplayer-only shooter does well. You also clash with your foes in lumbering battle mechs called titans. These powerful brutes fuel a weightier, more tactical type of combat that intertwines beautifully with the light-footed action, and herein lies Titanfall's triumph: two distinct kinds of combat blending seamlessly together to create chaotic and dynamic battlefields unlike anything you've ever experienced.

(Editor's note: This review was originally posted for the Xbox One version of Titanfall, but it applies to the PC and Xbox 360 version as well, except where noted. The PC version boasts sharper visual effects and higher resolutions, as you might expect, and both control schemes (mouse/keyboard and Xbox 360 controller) work flawlessly. The Xbox 360 version runs at a lower resolution with regular texture pop-in and more frame rate stutters, making it the inferior version of the three. Despite these relative shortcomings, Titanfall still thrives on the Xbox 360 and delivers the same competitive thrills.) - Updated 4/11/2014

So how does this mobility work? As a jump kit-equipped pilot, the stunts you can perform all stem from two abilities: the double jump and the wall run. The first one is self-explanatory and allows you to surmount shipping containers and leap into second story windows with ease. The second one is dependent on the angle of your approach. If you run straight at a wall and leap into it, you're stuck trying to double jump your way to a window or a roof. If, however, you come at a wall from an acute angle, you automatically start running along that wall horizontally. Once you start wall running, your double jump capability resets, and then the fun begins.

If you spot an enemy down an alley, you can wall run straight at him, bouncing back and forth between parallel walls to make yourself a tougher target. If you're trying to cross a courtyard, then double jump off the rooftop, wall run along a billboard, and double jump again to another rooftop. And how did you get on the roof in the first place? Perhaps by wall jumping upwards, back and forth between two buildings, or perhaps by leaping out of a top floor window and double jumping back on to the roof. Though the moves you can eventually perform are complex, the root of every maneuver is those two simple abilities. A solid tutorial puts you through the initial paces, and though it might take a few matches to get a good sense of how your pilot sticks to walls, it's easy to start chaining together impressive feats very early on.

This makes simply moving around the map both a continual pleasure and a constant challenge, as you gleefully try to exploit every billboard, building, and zipline to your advantage. The 15 maps are all rich with opportunities for creative locomotion. Titanfall takes place on distant colonies in the space-faring future, where the polished steel of well-established settlements contrasts with the rusty metal of frontier outposts. Dense urban areas play host to daring rooftop acrobatics, while a corporate enclave provides curving architectural lines for pilots to exploit. Many buildings have open interior spaces as well, so weaving in and out of windows and changing elevation rapidly is par for the course. It's always empowering to learn the maps in a competitive shooter, but this satisfaction is heightened in Titanfall because your expanded mobility means there is so much more to learn.

The hunt is on.

It also means that your enemies can come at you from almost any direction. Pilots move at a brisk clip, so there's a lot of potential for quick flanking runs and rapid pursuits. They are also fairly fragile, succumbing to a few well-placed shots much like their military-shooter counterparts. This encourages you to be even more aware of your surroundings and to take advantage of one of the more disruptive maneuvers in the game: the wall hang. At almost any time you're running along or jumping onto a wall, you can stop and hang, take aim, and fire. Being able to switch quickly from wall running to guns blazing helps ensure that a mobile pilot is not a vulnerable pilot, and the potential for ambushing players by hanging in unexpected places is nearly endless.

Fortunately, one of the tactical abilities allows you to temporarily see your enemies' skeletons through walls and spot any potential ambushes. The other two--turning nearly invisible and boosting speed and regeneration--round out a trio of powers that have been extensively utilized by other games and aren't initially very exciting. But like so much in Titanfall, these familiar abilities take on new life because the extensive player mobility allows you to employ them in new ways.

A mobile pilot is not a vulnerable pilot, and the potential for ambushing players by hanging in unexpected places is nearly endless.

This applies to the weapons as well. Titanfall gives you a few options for close-quarters, mid-distance, and long-range engagements, and almost all of them are straightforward variants of the weapons commonly featured in military shooters. Making the best of them while leaping this way and that is a fresh challenge for the old standbys, but there's one newcomer that feels purpose-built for acrobatic firefights: the smart pistol. As long as you can keep an enemy pilot in the large bracketed targeting reticle, this pistol locks on with the three shots necessary for a kill, and fires them all with one pull of the trigger. It takes a few long seconds though, so if they get out of range or spot you, the lock-on is no longer a sure thing. It's a neat twist on the humble sidearm, especially when you go hunting for grunts.

Grunts (and their slightly tougher robotic counterparts, spectres) are AI soldiers that deploy into battle in every match. They're not programmed to approximate the skills of human players like bots in other multiplayer shooters. A group of them can kill a wounded or reckless pilot, but they're more effective at making the 12-player battles feel more lively and populated. Sometimes they'll just deploy and stand around stupidly, but often you'll seem them behaving more naturally by clearing buildings of enemy grunts, engaging in pitched firefights, dragging wounded allies to safety, or duking it out in hand-to-hand combat. Killing them can give you points towards victory, progress towards unlocking weapon attachments, and reductions in how long it takes to build your titan.

Smart pistol, dumb grunts.

The faster you kill enemy pilots and grunts, the sooner you can call down your titan, a two-story battle robot with a cockpit that only you can enter. These behemoths appear on the battlefield early on and they are forces to be reckoned with. Primary weapons that include rocket launchers, chainguns, and lightning cannons combine with shoulder-mounted ordnance to pack a huge offensive punch, and titans can also throw huge offensive punches. These weapons are complemented by defensive abilities that enable titans to block incoming fire, release an obscuring cloud of damaging smoke, or catch all incoming projectiles and throw them at an enemy. You haven't lived until you've played catch with a deadly salvo of explosive rockets.

Who catches the rockets and who gets hit depends on who times their abilities properly and maneuvers correctly. Titan battles are much more tactical and drawn out than pilot skirmishes. Managing your regenerating shield and dashing in and out of cover play heavily into the outcome, as does your loadout choice. The three titan chassis are light, medium, and heavy variants, with speed and armor strength inversely related, as they so often are. Each has a special power core that charges up and can be activated to tip the odds in your favor by temporarily boosting shields, damage output, or speed. Titan fights are as tense and exciting as pilot fights, though they move at a slower pace, but don't make the mistake of thinking the two occur independently of each other.

On the contrary, the thing that makes Titanfall's combat so chaotic and thrilling is that pilots and titans are both a threat to each other. All pilots are armed with anti-titan weapons that make them significant threats, and they can easily jump on top of enemy titans, rip open a protective panel, and start blasting the mechanical innards. If the titan isn't properly equipped and doesn't have an ally nearby, this so-called rodeo attack will quickly turn deadly unless the pilot hops out and deals with the attacker on foot. This doesn't leave the titan helpless, however, as it has an on-board AI of its own that kicks in as soon as its pilot jumps out.

Between pilots and titans, there are a lot of different elements that come together in Titanfall matches, and they do so with remarkable fluidity. Each map is designed to let both pilot and titan thrive; some areas are only accessible to pilots, others are the domain of titans, but large swathes accommodate both in the struggle for dominance. You could be pursuing an enemy pilot on foot only to have them leap inside the protective shield of their freshly-summoned titan and turn the tables on you. Perhaps you're lumbering after an enemy titan and they dash around one corner while another titan emerges and a pilot starts to rodeo you; what do you do? Charge after the ailing titan or take on the new threat? Exit the front of your titan to deal with your unwanted passenger or sacrifice your titan by ejecting yourself and your attacker up into the sky for a mid-air duel? These are the kinds of decisions you are regularly confronted with, and they often result in the kinds of stories you can't wait to tell your friends.

These stories can play out in either campaign multiplayer or classic multiplayer, with the former having a story of its own to tell. It's one you've heard before: a struggle between an overbearing government and the frontier people that want the freedom to live their lives. Campaign multiplayer can be played from either side of the conflict, but either way, the nine scenarios are always the same. Each one is a specific multiplayer match type on a specific map, bookended (and sometimes padded mid-mission) by voiceover describing who is trying to accomplish what and what is standing in their way. The narrative elements are very minimal, but there are customization unlocks you can only get by finishing the campaign, so you might as well see it through to the end (it's just a series of multiplayer matches, after all). This isn't to say Titanfall's setting won't pique your interest; the maps are rich with design elements that create a gratifying sense of place, like dirty neon signs and strange alien creatures. It's a shame that the campaign doesn't elaborate on these intriguing bits, but as it stands, the best stories are the ones you create yourself.

If your titan's ready when you respawn, ride it into battle!

Titanfall adds a little extra spice to those stories with burn cards, which you earn by completing challenges. These one-use power-ups bestow a range of benefits, including souped-up weapons, longer-lasting abilities, and bigger bonuses that might convert enemy spectres to your side or show you everyone's position on the minimap. Yet for all the wonderful variability of the actual combat, there are only five game modes to choose from in the more-traditional lobbies of classic multiplayer. Attrition is Titanfall's take on team deathmatch, with victory points tallied for titan, pilot, and grunt kills. Making grunt slaughter a viable way to contribute to the team makes this one of the most strategically flexible modes in the game, as you could conceivably never target a human player and still be an asset to your team. Pilot hunter strips this strategy away, awarding points only for pilot kills, though of course, titan and grunt kills still earn you experience points that go towards unlocking new weapons and customization options.

Hardpoint domination focuses on control of three specific points and capture the flag is, well, capture the flag. Tired as these two modes may sound, it's a lot of fun to wall hang near a point to catch enemies unawares or to flee with the enemy team's flag, leaping and running off of walls until you snag a zipline to speed off towards your base. And if you happen to lose, all is not lost. An epilogue phase challenges the losing team to escape to an evacuation ship to save face and gain a nice XP bonus. Meanwhile, the victors try to add insult to injury by preventing the enemy's escape. This extra contest ends matches with a novel flurry of activity in which everyone has one last chance to make good.

The final mode is last titan standing, in which everyone spawns in a titan. Battle rages until one team's titans are all eliminated, and then it's on to the next round until one team has four victories. This mode shines a spotlight on titan tactics and teamwork. Having a heavily-shielded, projectile-catching bruiser lead the way while others bombard from afar and a speedy titan skirts around for a flanking run can be effective, as can a variety of other maneuvers. Parking your titan in one corner of the map and harrying the enemy as a pilot is also a viable move, and though the action is less freewheeling in this mode, it works well as a more focused kind of fight.

The best stories are the ones you create yourself.

Of course, an online multiplayer-only game like Titanfall is only as good as its servers, and how they fare when the eager hordes descend on them remains to be seen. The About the Author section of this review contains more information on the circumstances in which I played it, which weren't always ideal. I experienced a few laggy matches and occasional frame rate issues, but these in-game hitches were the exception to the rule during the many hours I played. (Editor's note: This paragraph applied to the Xbox One version of Titanfall, pre-release. For information on the PC and Xbox 360 version, see the note at the beginning of this review.) - Updated 4/11/2014

The overarching experience of playing Titanfall is one of rejuvenation and reinvigoration. The sprint speed, the arsenal, the game modes, and more are all firmly derived from some of the most successful online shooters of recent years. But by reinventing the way you move, Titanfall reinvents what it feels like to play a competitive shooter. The high-flying action intertwines beautifully with the brutish, tactical titan battles, creating battlefields that crackle with possibility. Titanfall is a leap forward for shooters, a game that combines the vibrant and new with the tried and true to create something special.

The Good
Incredible on-foot mobility
Titan and pilot combat seamlessly intertwined
Atmospheric maps rich with opportunity
The Bad
Campaign story doesn't capitalize on intriguing environments
9
Superb
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

/ Staff

Chris Watters played Titanfall for two days straight at a review event run by EA, where he encountered server issues allegedly caused by small player population. Over the weekend preceding publication of the GameSpot review, he played from home as the servers went up and was able to reliably enter lag-free matches in the most populated lobby. He played a dozen hours of the PC version post-release, and encountered no notable issues. He loves, loves, loves competitive shooters.

Discussion

5614 comments
Sevenizz
Sevenizz

Best game of this generation so far.  And from the looks of E3 2014, it'll hold that title for a long time.

kapi7an
kapi7an

Titanfall is my favourit game of the last few months.If you like it as I do, and havent bought it yet, I recomend to check the kinguin dot net offer for this on.

sainraja
sainraja

The game is pretty glitchy - the running animations / switch weapon animations are so weird and seem to "skip," how did this game get a 9? 

punisher70
punisher70

Orgin having a 50% off sale on Titanfall for the PC version for anyone interested. DL at your own risk though bought 4 games last week on sale an only one works.

jamesmayfanboy
jamesmayfanboy

Look fun, but the movement/gameplay looks exactly like Tribes minus the mechs

charlieholmes
charlieholmes

I have it and payed a lil. But, the whole game is very shallow! You don't know who you are, why you're fighting, and for what. If something was to give me those answers, I may be able to get more into the game. But as I said, it's to shallow at this point especially with no story to answer all my why's etc.

Gravity_Slave
Gravity_Slave

Definitely my Game of the Year! It's not perfect (bad matchmaking and lacking in the multiplayer options) but it's solid. Every thing you do feels natural. My only wish list besides the stuff I already mentioned is some kind of hardcore mode with objective based game modes. It'd be great if it was like CoDs Search and Destroy where you only get one life and limited HUD

secher_nbiw
secher_nbiw

This game just sucks.  It's boring.  It's not that good looking.  There is no real difference between this and any of the CoD/BF bland, brainless FPS out there.  Save your money.

lithus
lithus

First game I've played in a long time that I can literally just pick up and play and have a sh*t load of fun no matter what. I'm totally a laid back-camper type and I still like the fast paced run n' gun action.

Anyone who bashes Titanfall has obviously never bothered to play it and/or they have personal issues with MS and/or FPS's in general.

jumpchump
jumpchump

Titanfall is a 7 at best. This is not a true next gen offering, evidenced by the fact that it is quite similar on current gen. The total game is but one mode of comparatively priced games. This is essentially paying $60 for the multiplayer mode of any other FPS on the market. It plays like Brink, looks like CoD, and is as fun as arguing with a adolescent male (i.e. easy to get into and interesting at first, but quickly becomes boring and easy to dominate with little skill). This is a lazy first attempt that shows promise, so no way should it get a 9. No single player campaign drops it by a good 2 points at least. It is fun for what it is, but giving it a 9 shows unacceptable bias and a possible bribe.

rancid36
rancid36

Finally made the plunge and my 12yr. old decided on the XBO w/Titanfall download.  He has been playing for over a week now and the verdict is a "10".  Really.......the only reviews I go with now a days are from my 12yr. old.....Games were made for children to play and the only review you need.....you "young" adults need to take a rest and go find yourself a job....:)

eljoker5
eljoker5

Excellent game. Better then the same COD games year after year. 

Gamer_4_Fun
Gamer_4_Fun

I played this game, really feels a like a more tuned down version of Unreal Tournament, hardly anything new. Did everyone forget about UT?

Gravity_Slave
Gravity_Slave

Been playing the 360 version (red box) and I have to say its fun! If you still don't have an X1, this is a great alternative.

koospetoors
koospetoors

I've got to admit, the last time I had this much fun playing an online shooter was back in the Unreal Tournament 2k4 days, that's pretty darn impressive. 


Here's to hoping EA doesn't screw it up, they've got a wonderful developer and game in hand here.

hitmanxmk
hitmanxmk

I wander why GS always gives irrelevant scores about the games...hmmm...hmmmm....no sh*t, we all know why it does...so that's why I stick to the user score and some user reviews, which are much relevant..at least man can still find some honest reviews on GS....



greaseman1985
greaseman1985

I don't know about two distinct types of combat, other than the jumping and wallrunning, the mechs play exactly like the pilots. There isn't enough of a distinction in my opinion. At the very least they could've taken some creativity with the mech weapons and the way they're used, instead of basically making giant rifles, grenade launchers, and rocket launchers that are used the exact same way the smaller counterparts are used, including the reload process! I guess I was hoping for something more along the lines of Mechassault/Mechwarrior.

downcore
downcore

Totally waste of time!!!

16bitreview
16bitreview

I'm not surprised about the game looking worse, the Source engine uses a lot of RAM so it's to be expected that the game looks like it does on the Xbox 360. Just be happy the game runs at all on 512mb of RAM and a 8 year old CPU. 

daikkenaurora12
daikkenaurora12

Is there going to be a review every time Titanfall comes out with something new?  I guess Microspot needs the revenue from MS.

ScottOakley
ScottOakley

@Dredcrumb9 In 2007 gamespot fired an reviewer because it gave Kane & Lynch game a 6 while gamespot was running an advertisment for Kane & Lynch. Since then all the reviews of big games get high scores.

sainraja
sainraja

@Dredcrumb9 yup, and adding to what I said earlier we know there is no real campaign in this game so the customizations for MP should have been extensive but even that is lacking, what did GS judge the game on?


Simply the gameplay? After a few rounds it's a bit shallow so you definitely need more customizations for your gear etc other than just unlocks. 

tightwad34
tightwad34

@Sevenizz  I wouldn't call a game that got this much hype and is now almost forgotten the best game of the generation, even if it is just "so far" into the gen. I have heard lots of people say it get old fast. And word of mouth is what I usually go by. One person cannot tell me, but thousands if not millions can help me.

tightwad34
tightwad34

@charlieholmes  So it's a brotastic shooter with tons of generic moments? Nice to know another MS exclusive is the same as most others. Not a hater at all, just call them how I see them with shallow being a key word as you said.

lithus
lithus

First off, there are lots of games out there with just a single player campaign and NO online multiplayer. Why don't you people cry about that?

It's not about the $60 bucks and not about Titanfalls graphics. you're not fooling anyone. Lol a "bribe". Typical idiocy from a fanboy. You've obviously got a problem with Xbox. I'm gonna call you out on this. I don't think you played any version of Titanfall.

Starhopper4
Starhopper4

@rancid36I'm probably older than you seeing as how I started playing pong when it came out in the early 1970's. And I consider myself a successful human being. I've owned my own homes for the past 20 years, I've been working since I was old enough to push a lawn mower and have a successful career atm. I am raising 3 kids with my wife of 20 years. I am relatively debt free and I have friends and a social life when time allows it. I coach my kids in some sports and attend their games regularly. But you know what? In all that time I've never stopped playing or enjoying video games. Maybe you should stop stereotyping gamers and get a clue.

And Titanfall rocks.

Shebuka
Shebuka

@rancid36  Sorry, but you are doing it wrong, your 12yr. old must not play a game that is 16+ rated...

Dredcrumb9
Dredcrumb9

@eljoker5 not a  bigcod fan, but all the cods are better than this game. COD W@W and Black ops 1 are decent games.

Gravity_Slave
Gravity_Slave

Yeahhh cause no other game does that! *cough* assassins creed! *cough*...Scuse me.

Gravity_Slave
Gravity_Slave

Funny how all you people can do is loosely compare games to one another to create the hate. Sorry to break it to you two but EVERY game ever made resembles some other thing that came before it.

Real question is: Is Titanfall 360 a good port, plays right and fun to play despite it's age??

The answer is "Yes". A deserved 9. There, just saved you a lot of wasted time and energy spent on mindless critique. Yer welcome

horosavinXX
horosavinXX

@Gamer_4_Fun  

Yeah, it kinda makes you wonder if developers think we all suffered a collective amnesia or something.

On the other hand, it might mean that we're getting old and that a lot of new "gamers" wore diapers back when those games rocked.

Sevenizz
Sevenizz

So - you haven't even played it. Why are you in it's comment section?

Move along now, simpleton.

Dredcrumb9
Dredcrumb9

@Gravity_Slave people who use the word "hater", are usually fitted hat wearing clowns who listen to Drake and weezy. I bet your favorite game is Madden and COD.

jumpchump
jumpchump

@lithus No, my friend, I am sadly a true Xbox fan, and I bought Titanfall: a mistake I hope to educate others on. Yesterday was a great example why this game sucks so bad; I had about 3 hours and wanted to give Titanfall another go, since I wasted my money already. I wanted to play Capture the Nodes, but after 6 failed attempts at finding enough people for a team I gave up. LoL is all multiplayer, but I have the option to play on my own.  I don't complain about single player only games because I am playing on a console and should have the option to play offline. Additionally, I should have the option to play on the couch with my friends. Titanfall is a lazily programmed cash grab. It is fun for what it is, I'll give it that, but Titanfall is a truly skimpy offering. Titanfall is not CoD with mechs, it is Brink with mechs. The developers didn't think too much of any of us when they released this trash. It sets a very negative precedence for the next gen. And to use your logic against you, if you liked this game you are mentally retarded or have never played any other game.

rancid36
rancid36

@Starhopper4 @rancid36No need to justify your game playing lifestyle to me....enjoy.  I, myself, lost interest.  I enjoy watching my boy play and that's good enough for me.

Gravity_Slave
Gravity_Slave

It's not a gory game. 12 year olds are being exposed to worse. The only thing I hope this dad is doing is NOT allowing his kid to interact with the general XBL public. Like only allowing him to hear ppl on his friends list that dad approves of 1st

bulba_baker
bulba_baker

@Gravity_Slave  seriously you're just bashing against another game to feel accomplished, Assassin's Creed actually educates you, what does Titanfall or Call of Duty teach you?? Nothing, sorry but I've grown tired of your comments in this section, seriously let people have their own opinion.

tightwad34
tightwad34

@Dredcrumb9 Now that is a completely ignorant response. Just because they use the word in a certain context automatically makes them an ignorant sheep? Please don't label and put words in other people's mouths when you don't know them at all.

jumpchump
jumpchump

@Gravity_Slave So because I don't like this terrible game you resort to name calling? You can't read. I said I dominated the game with almost no effort. The points I was making was that the game is not a true "next gen" offering and not at all worthy of either the marketing campaign or the 9 it was reviewed at. I don't care what it is called, you understand what I was saying. And I understand you are a fool that needs easy games to validate yourself. If you like this game, you are a twit. It is what is wrong with the video game industry, and you are what is wrong with gamers. You are a true idiot, no where in my replies did I say I was bad at the game. There is more substance than you all thinking I am a PS4 fanboy, or that I am bad at this horrible garbage.

Gravity_Slave
Gravity_Slave

Ever wonder if maybe it's just you? Seriously, you essentially just told us you don't like the game because you suck at it. lol

I've been playing it since it came out and haven't had any of the problems you are. And FYI it's not "capture the nodes" you twit, it's called "Hardpoint". I think it's you who is retarded "my friend".

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 1002 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Titanfall
    Developed by:
    Respawn Entertainment, Bluepoint Games
    Published by:
    Electronic Arts, Microsoft Game Studios
    Genres:
    3D, Team-Based, First-Person, Action, Shooter
    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