Titanfall Review (Xbox 360)
Shooters have taken the world by storm, with heavy hitters like Call of Duty, Halo and Gears of War seeing iteration after iteration, each series offering their own unique takes on fast-shooting action. Well, now Respawn Entertainment has thrown its hat in the ring with a big-budget new first-person shooter that promises to reinvigorate a thoroughly-saturated genre. We already saw the company’s grand debut on the Xbox One, but how does the experience hold up on the Xbox 360?
First of all, one important thing to note about Titanfall is that this bad boy is online only. If you were hoping of relaxing with an offline mode, look elsewhere. That issue aside, so long as you have the proper online subscriptions you'll find yourself thrust into a rabbit hole of parkour gunplay, mech vs. mech battles and a leveling system so robust you can practically taste it. In each match you'll choose a class (either custom or pre-determined) and head into battle against the opposing team. Titanfall's guns are all standard FPS fare- shotguns, sniper rifles, and the like- with the occasional smart twist, like the Smart Pistol's ability to lock onto foes to dispatch them with ease. Where things begin to feel really different, however, is in the movement. Titfanfall offers unparalleled mobility for your character, giving you the ability to wall-run, double jump, ledge grab and so on. You'll run, jump, slip and slide across every level, reaching locations that would only be accessible via cheats in most first-person shooters. That's the brilliance of Titanfall's on-foot gameplay— it makes you feel like you're breaking the rules in the best way possible. To compensate for this mobility, your pilot is fairly fragile, but given how quickly you respawn, this never frustrates.
In addition to human opponents, each team has AI-controlled soldiers battling alongside them. These soldiers, while not completely incompetent, are fairly easy to defeat, giving even the most nubile of players a feeling of being skilled and cool. These grunts grant you additional points for your team, experience points, and most importantly, they shave time off of your Titan's deployment meter. The name Titanfall wasn't chosen merely because it's cool— a good chunk of the gameplay takes place while you're in control of massive mech-suits known as Titans. These Titans are massive marauders capable of tremendous firepower, and, like the pilots themselves, the Titans can all be customized before a match to suit a player's needs. You can increase your agility to outmaneuver enemy pilots, pile down the heavy armaments to dish out the pain, or add a nuclear self-destruct core so that, when your Titan inevitably blows, your foes don't live to brag about it. And if you're on foot and in the zone you can call your Titan down and set its AI to act independently. Suddenly you're not only a mad snipin' fool, but you've got Gipsy Danger backing your every move.
The satisfaction of suiting up in a Titan can't be understated; their abilities are fun and unique, both mixing up gameplay and allowing players to feel a god-like glory as they trash their on-foot foes. Interestingly, even when on foot you're never exposed, as all pilots have anti-Titan armaments good for (with a bit of patience) taking a Titan down. It ain't easy, but it's doable. These power weapons work well against Titans, but are too slow and unwieldy to be of much use against players. Titanfall offers an interesting system of checks and balances in that way. Titans are powerful, but pilots get anti-titan guns. Titans are large and easy to hit, so they get temporary force shields they can use to grab and reflect shots fired. Pilots are agile, but fragile, and certain guns can lock in on them to render their agility null. Everything balances out nicely, keeping the flow of combat feeling fun and varied.
Titanfall offers two basic play modes- Campaign and Classic. "Campaign" barely qualifies as a campaign, as, though it does have some story elements, it's essentially a repackaged multiplayer mode in which you and your friends play against computers. Rather than complain about its minimalist nature, however, you could consider Campaign as a bonus addition to the in-depth competitive multiplayer. Classic multiplayer has the standard FPS modes like capture the flag, but with interesting variants. For example, in Attrition (which is essentially deathmatch), once a match is over the losing team can escape via a dropship, and the winning team is tasked with gunning them all down. Should you die in this epilogue, you won't respawn, adding an interestingly tense element to the end of a frenetic match.
If you've played Titanfall on the Xbox One or PC, there's one thing you can feel superior about, and it's aesthetics. Titanfall on Xbox 360 is not a pretty game. Some of that has to do with art direction, as the game relies a bit too heavily on browns and greys, and the rest has to do with the muddy visuals, texture pop-up and other similar graphical issues.
Titanfall uses the mold of the typical first-person shooter as a rad-as-hell skateboard to grind along a wall while bringing the thunder in every way possible. As you play this lightning fast, gravity-defying, parkour/mech battle hybrid first-person shooter, there should be no doubt in your mind that we'll be seeing extensive expansion, DLC, and sequels for many years to come, and if Respawn Entertainment continues to deliver this same level of quality, the world of gaming will be better for it.
This review is based on a purchased retail copy of Titanfall for the Xbox 360.