Stand by for ‘Titanfall’

Titanfall

Title: “Titanfall”
Developer: Respawn Entertainment
Platform: XBO, 360, PC
Genre: First-person shooter
Rating: 4

Almost four years ago, the two lead developers at Infinity Ward, the studio behind the gargantuan “Call of Duty” franchise, left the studio along with more than half of their employees to form their own studio: Respawn Entertainment. “Titanfall” is their first creation. And if it can live up to the massive speculation and hype surrounding its release, it will be destined to lead the multiplayer charge of the next gaming generation.

Thankfully, “Titanfall” mostly delivers on its massive promises to create what may possibly be the definitive multiplayer shooter of 2014, if not the next few years and beyond.

The game is firmly rooted in the world of multiplayer, and nowhere is this clearer than in its greatest flaw: the story. The story campaign, as it’s loosely called, simply dresses a few multiplayer matches up with extra voice acting and cutscenes to give the illusion of a story being told. It’s no great masterpiece, but it’s enough to make the world fairly interesting. It’s just a shame that, for such a masterfully executed multiplayer game, a competent story mode couldn’t follow suit.

But looking beyond that, “Titanfall” is an outstanding achievement in multiplayer shooting. Being from a team mostly comprised of Infinity Ward’s best and brightest, the gameplay doesn’t stray too far from its “Call of Duty” roots. However, there are two major twists that make matches much more satisfying.

One is parkour. Jump up into a wall and the character will initiate a wall run, gaining momentum and speed. Wall runs can be chained together to build and build speed, adding a feeling of exhilaration to map traversal. And because the maps are designed with wall running in mind, the action always feels fast and fresh.

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The second twist is the eponymous Titan, a piloted mechanical robot that players can hop into and go stomping and shooting with. The Titans add a David-and-Goliath feeling to matches, because Titans can obliterate Titan-less pilots with ease, but clever pilots on the ground can still maneuver around and do plenty of damage to the Titans, possibly even destroying them.

With these two elements mixed in, it adds up to a game that feels like “Call of Duty” at first but becomes its own beast as the experience goes on. Playing as a lonesome pilot still feels viable as the map continues to fill with friendly and enemy Titans. The new mechanics make an already fast game feel so much faster and more gratifying.

It’s a shame that the campaign mode couldn’t live up to the expectations, but the incredible multiplayer more than makes up for it. And hey, the campaign mode is just a collection of scripted multiplayer matches, so players wanting to constantly be online won’t be missing much. Those who want an engrossing single-player experience probably should look away, but anyone interested in fast and fun multiplayer shouldn’t miss “Titanfall” for the world.