Titanfall (PC)

Titanfall is good. There. Happy? It’s fine. Everything it sets out to do it does well and even if you’re not one of those insufferable losers who only buy 3 games a year, go to the Titanfall forums full of Titanfall jackoffs who have Titanfall race-car beds even though they’re 35 and argue about whether one fictional gun is OP and another isn’t, you’ll still have a good time playing it. This game is probably what the Mechwarrior reboot should have been, or Mechassault to begin with. Infantry with heavy bipedal armor support and mayhem. If you’re so broke that you can only afford one or can only beg and plead with your parents to get you one game this year, get this one.

It’s what Titanfall doesn’t do that is more interesting and worth writing about. Because what it certainly doesn’t do is create a game you want to play for more than three weeks.

The graphics are great, the sound is cool, the gameplay is fun and hearkens back to an era of gaming I could have sworn died when Call of Duty 4 became the gold standard in piece of shit hypercompetitive obsessive adolescent FPS players, dethroning Counterstrike as the key piece of software owned by everyone in life you should probably hate. You’ll jump and pull yourself up over ledges and double jump and bunny hop to dodge a guy shooting an assault rifle at you.

But there aren’t really many interesting modes of play besides “kill the other guy before he kills you”, capture & hold, and CTF. I can do without the CTF in my hardcore sci-fi shooter thank you very much, let’s leave that to games that have been doing it better for a much longer time. It’s a known fact that COD jockeys can’t figure out their ass from a hole in the ground when the job is anything more complicated than “shoot guy, shoot other guy”.

The setting and the gameplay mode with the fast pace and the quick respawn screams out for a classic Unreal Tournament “assault” mode or perhaps something like Bad Company 2’s tiered defense maps. It’s almost criminal that in 2014 this wasn’t even attempted, just a glorified deathmatch sim dumped on our laps with a campaign mode that’s even more anemic than Unreal Tournament 3, consisting solely of the same multiplayer maps you’d be playing otherwise with a bit of dialogue added at the beginning and end, and a few cinematic touches happening in the background. Nothing about it is particularly interesting and between this piece of crap and the dropped features that they plan to implement later it screams “rush job”, another victim of the EA “YOU WILL GET THIS OUT BY THE TIME OUR MARKET DEMOGRAPHICS INDICATE IS PRIME BUYING SEASON OR I WILL PERSONALLY HAVE SEX WITH YOUR WIFE RAWWWRRGH” mentality. How obvious is this? The entire game weighs in at fifty fucking gigabytes. Most of that is uncompressed audio. I’ll take “Couldn’t be arsed to run them through a compression codec” for 500, Alec. Unless you’re releasing a Massively Multiplayer Online RPG, your game has no excuse to be that size.

There are only about 9 to 12 maps and those maps get re-used in every single scenario. Do you know what you get when you design your multiplayer maps to be multi-use? Banal design. CTF maps are a fucking joke, with no intentional defensive chokepoints or any clear “no man’s land” ground. Just the same maze of fucking corridors you were using in Attrition. The streamlined highly efficient magic of Valve’s level design for Team Fortress 2 is nowhere to be found. Instead you get hyper-realistic buildings with nice high-resolution textures and it turns out that realism really sucks when you’re trying to play a game of Capture the Flag. It also turns out that the same qualities that lend themselves well to a deathmatch map don’t make a fun CTF map!

Attrition mode plays out poorly. Partially this is due to matchmaking issues which will be rectified but capping NPC mooks is a valid way (and actually a better way) to earn points in these modes then killing players. You know what I love, Respawn Entertainment? A multiplayer game that gives me points for playing it like a single player game. There’s even a single weapon called the smartpistol which is perfect for killing 5-6 mooks at a time but is sub-par for taking down players. But in an attrition match there’s no time to get a real gun and shoot other players because that counter just won’t stay still. I understand that frantic pace is better than not but these modes play out less like a team deathmatch and more like a time attack. It’s really obnoxious.

Point-Control and Last Titan Standing modes are decent, standard game modes. They really can’t support the whole game on their shoulders but unfortunately that’s the task they’re given. Oh well.

Comments? Join us on the forum.