*Authors Note* TItanfall is available for Xbox One, PC and in a fortnight Xbox 360. For the purpose of this review the Xbox One version of the game was played.
Next gen has begun, thus far with only a handful of exceptions (Dead Rising 3, Killzone Shadow Fall and Forza Motorsport 5) most games have been ports of last gen titles, and even those exclusives have not really boasted any features that stand out as only possible with this new round of consoles. Microsoft is the first to release the big blockbuster next gen title, and despite the Xbox 360 port, it is clear that Titanfall was planned and developed with the newest hardware in mind.
The thing that is obvious to everyone after a few matches, is that the game is extraordinarily balanced – rookies and experienced players are all on a pretty level platform, and whilst those with the greater amount of play time are likely to have a slight advantage due to their greater level and equipped abilities, but even with those on hand, the newer player will never feel outgunned at any stage. Even when players (regardless of experience) are faced by the looming presence of a Titan bearing down upon them, the foot soldiers are so mobile that they can wall-run to cover long distances extraordinarily long distances in seconds, while they can scale buildings super quickly to duck out of sight – add to this that these fleet of foot soldiers have anti-titan guns, and suddenly even the little guys pack massive punch. You can tell that the developers have play-tested the game for hundreds of hours to ensure that this balance is perfect, and the players reap the reward of this effort.There are a small selection of six modes, led from the front by the competitive modes, but also supported by campaign multiplayer. Unfortunately due to the presentation of this campaign, it is difficult to take on much of the story. The story is told during competitive matches with someone popping up on your screen talking to you whilst you play, so the flow of the game and constant action makes focussing on the story incredibly difficult. All you need to know is that war is raging between the IMC and an upstart group known as the Militia who fight over the Frontier and the wide range of resources that it posseses. Attrition, the first of the competitive modes, takes the format of your more conventional Team Deathmatch, where you’re scored on the number of kills that you or your teammates collect, while Hardpoint Domination requires your to retain possession of as many of the three bases on the map for as long as possible in order to win – the longer you hold the bases, the quicker you win requiring you to tactically balance offense and defence. In both of these modes, regardless of whether your team wins or loses there is a chance to salvage some extra experience in the match’s Epilogue. In the Epilogue the losing team makes a break for a drop ship extraction point while the victors try to prevent them from getting there, or should anyone slip through the cracks, destroy the drop ship before it flees the scene. It’s an excellent little addition that gives everyone a chance for success regardless of how the match transpired, and gives even the weaker players a chance to scrape out a few extra experience points.
Last Titan Standing is exactly as the name implies where two teams go head to head and the player who is left standing at the end nets the victory for his/her team. You’re given only one Titan and can still eject yourself from it as in other modes, but once each Titan has been defeated it marks defeat for the team, so great care needs to be taken not to find yourself charging into a group of opposing players because quick death will come your way and will make the scenario for your team much tougher. Capture the Flag plays exactly as you would expect it to while the final mode – Pilot Hunter plays much like Attrition, however points are only gained for the team for the death of a Hunter, so if you take down a Titan but the pilot ejects then no points are coming your way.For all that there are a sparse number of modes to play in, each one feels and plays brilliantly, and despite the likes of Attrition and Capture the Flag being obviously modes we’ve seen in dozens of other games, they play differently enough to feel both unique and fresh regardless. Burn Cards add an extra layer of depth to the gameplay too – you begin by being able to equip two of them, and when activated in battle they grant you added perks such as extra speed on foot, or increased scoping range. When you die however, that’s it, the cards use is expired and you will not have access to it again until you acquire a new one in battle, which then cannot be used until the next match.
Titanfall plays incredibly, but also looks sensational, yes, there are large amounts of brown and grey to be seen, as in most other modern day shooters, but there is a sleek level of polish that makes even the dust that is kicked up into your face when a drop-pod or Titan lands in front of you look impressive. The game also plays incredibly smoothly, with the only noticeable dip in frame-rate occurring when 3-4 or more battling Titans are on the screen – this flaw is quite noticeable on Xbox One and on all but the highest of high end PCs. The gunplay sounds incredible, with the sounds of whistling bullets piercing your ears and when cranked up with surround sound really places you in the midst of the battlefield.Titanfall is an extraordinary multiplayer experience for players of levels of experience, it’s accessible, yet packed with depth and despite a limited range of modes and a completely forgettable campaign, they’re offset by incredible gameplay, a brilliant range of maps and an incredible audio/visual show make Titanfall a must have for next gen gamers. Do yourself a favour, and whether it is one Xbox One or PC (preferably) but even the Xbox 360 port in a few weeks, go out and get this game – it is set to soak up hundreds of hours, and you will not regret a moment of it.