Before we get started with this review I should put it right out there - I rarely play games online. Sure, I like the competition and the ability to play with friends from all over the world but I like to enjoy my games on my own terms and not have to deal with muting the mic whenever the majority of my opponents opened their mouth. That being said - I still enjoyed the hell out of Titanfall. Respawn Entertainment's debut game may not be the messiah of shooters it was made out to be but it does breath some much needed fresh air into a genre that's quickly becoming stale. It's fun, frantic and does some pretty daring things in the context of the genre. It may be missing some genre mainstays and a dedicated campaign, but Titanfall is something that all shooter and action fans should experience.
The easiest way to describe Titanfall is like this; it's Call of Duty with giant robots. Except it's really not. While it is a shooter, Titanfall also features some pretty cool elements of sci-fi, parkour and oh yeah - jetpacks. This is a fully-fleshed out world, with some awesome things to discover and some very interesting design elements. The only problem is that the game never really lets you fully experience the world it's created since its story mode is so lacking that it almost feels forced.
"Everyone is just another nameless, faceless pilot..."
You see, Titanfall is always online, meaning that every game you play is against others and there's really no big story mode to speak of. There is a campaign mode, but it's just small little bits of story spliced into the already existing game modes and it feels incredibly forced. There are some cool moments but they're few and far between and don't make me care about the game's two warring factions; The IMC and the Militia at all. Everyone is just another nameless, faceless pilot that's meant to be shot or stepped on with a giant mech.
At it's core though, Titanfall is still an incredibly enjoyable shooter. The maps are wide-open and feature a ton of areas that change the way you're going to play. You'll start as a regular pilot and run around like you would in any other first person shooter, but after while you'll be ready to call for your Titan, a giant walking pile of metal and bad-assery. It's extremely fun to jump into a Titan (the animations are pretty cool too) and start stomping around, shooting other soldiers and battling other Titans. You'll definitely feel a sense of power as you start racking up kills in your Titan - it's a feeling unlike any other in gaming.
That being said though, I was surprised how much I liked playing as a pilot and taking out Titans. Each pilot is equipped with the weapons you'd expect along with an anti-titan weapon that's especially useful for bringing down the giant mechs and it's always extremely satisfying. It's tough to do, since the Titan is always packing a lot more firepower than the Pilot, (not to mention that they can just step on you) but thanks to some cool animations and great rewards, it's easily one of my favorite parts of the game.
"...you'll find new strategies for each map by simply exploring."
Pilots of Titanfall also have the ability to run on walls and use their jetpack to reach some pretty cool places, and the mechanic goes a long way in making the game feel unique. Some of my favorite moments with the game are from trying to outrun another pilot or Titan by bouncing off walls and climbing up to ledges and battles become much larger. You'll often find yourself wondering if you can get somewhere and more often than not the answer is yes and you'll find new strategies for each map by simply exploring.
Titanfall also adds AI controlled soldiers to each match and though hardcore shooter fans will feel like this is a bit of a sin, they actually go a long way in rounding out most of the matches. The AI controlled players, or grunts as they're called are much more easily killed than regular players but they still offer a generous amount of experience points when they're killed so newer players can level up and gain access to newer weapons, skills and burn cards (Titanfalls version of perks) at a much faster rate.
Titanfall is missing some pretty obvious features that other shooters have and have had for years. Why for instance can't I name my pilots custom Loadout? Each map is different and you'll want to have quick access to your different gear but now you'll have to either cycle through them all each match or remember which one is which. Why not just label one as sniper and one as titan-heavy? Similarly, why can't I vote on which map the next match will be in? As it stands right now, it's all up to the AI. These are small gripes, but they're also genuine since so many other shooters have done them for so long that they've become commonplace and almost expected.
It would be easy to dismiss Titanfall as just another Call of Duty clone, but it's far from it. With elements of sci-fi, mechs and even parkour, Titanfall breathes new life into a genre that has quickly been growing stale. It may be missing some genre mainstays but the fun and frantic nature of the gameplay make for one worthwhile and unique experience. If you're looking for a new shooter that tries to break the rules, stand by for Titanfall pilot.
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