Courtesy photo / Electronic Arts/Respawn Entertainment
From: EA Games
Who’s it for: Anyone looking for a great new shooter or a killer Xbox One game
Console: Xbox One, PC (Xbox 360 version not reviewed)
“Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” changed the way we view and experience first-person shooters, particularly online multiplayer.
Instead of just participating in skirmishes, players earned experience and leveled up their characters, with more experienced characters gaining “perks” that made them more powerful.
This simple concept gave players an incentive to spend more time in multiplayer, and it worked. Players flocked to “Modern Warfare” and its sequels, logging untold hours online while fighting the good fight.
Then, in 2010, two of the game’s designers had a falling out with publisher Activision and subsequently left to found a new independent studio, Respawn Entertainment.
Fast-forward to 2014. Respawn just released its first effort, “Titanfall,” a multiplayer-only shooter bent to once again revolutionize how we look at the genre.
“Titanfall” made a huge splash when it was unveiled at last year’s E3 show, winning the lion’s share of best-in-show awards. Now that the game is out, it’s gratifying to see that all the buzz was justified.
I admit, online gaming isn’t my favorite. I’d rather play a great single-player game than spend hours online shooting things in the face. Blame my love of a good story (and my anti-social leanings).
“Titanfall,” however, has gone a long way in changing my perception of what an online shooter can be.
In addition to the plethora of standard multiplayer modes — capture the flag, team deathmatch, etc. — “Titanfall” makes a valiant effort to inject a single-player-like campaign into the game’s crunchy multiplayer shell.
I say valiant effort because the story itself is weak and forgettable, and as it’s part of the multiplayer madness, it’s all too easy to play through the campaign twice and not retain much of the story.
And you must play through the campaign twice — once as the IMC and once as the Militia, the two warring factions in the game. Doing so unlocks two of the three types of Titans, the thing that makes the game the beautiful shooter it is.
Titans are 20-foot-tall robot suits that characters can climb into, transforming them from foot soldiers (albeit powerful ones called Pilots) to anthropomorphic tanks suitable for fighting the likes of Godzilla.
Just hearing the words “your Titan is ready” is enough to bring a grin to your face. Pressing the button and watching it fall from space is a visual treat that never gets old.
And once you climb in and feel the power surging through your character, you will be hooked on this game for the long haul.
The reason all of this works isn’t because the visuals are beautiful (they are) or because the game’s 15 maps offer a staggering amount of variety (they do). It’s because the maestros at Respawn have balanced the game so finely that a player will never feel overpowered or helpless.
You will spend a good deal of time on foot as a pilot, as you wait for your Titan to be built. Fortunately, with your jetpack and plenty of perks, you’re not just a sitting duck for the walking tanks.
In fact, the feeling of scaling a Titan, ripping open its head and blowing out its mechanical brains is nothing short of a giddy rush. Plus, doing so gets you in your own mech that much quicker.
Respawn wisely limited the game to six-on-six matches, and in doing so, it not only keeps the game from reaching the epic scale of the 64-player matches in “Battlefield 4” but keeps the chaos to a manageable level. Dozens of Titans running around the map at once would just be insane.
There are quite a few computer-controlled characters to frag, so maps never feel underpopulated. This is just another example of the balance the game exudes so well.
Whether you are a Level One newbie or Level 50 veteran, you will have the tools to succeed here, and the wonderful toys you unlock as you gain experience make the effort worthwhile and rewarded.
Ultimately, “Titanfall” doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it does attach it to a wonderful new machine, one that will provide shooter fans with dozens of hours of fun.