Titanfall looms on the horizon as large as a missile-spewing mech for many gamers this month. A game that will quite possibly –finally — usher in a new console generation and herald its arrival by selling more consoles and whipping gamers’ excitement up into a fever pitch in the process. The gameplay certainly looks and feels fresh, complete with full-scale mech combat, acrobatic infantry combat and the use of AI bots throw into the fray for good measure. But is Titanfall the second coming of the first-person shooter or is it simply the very first next-gen killer app to come along and win the crown by default?
I’m of the opinion that we are in the middle of a very strange console transition — a sort of half-in half-out proposition caused by itchy trigger fingers on the part of Sony and Microsoft. Most people I know who own either the Xbox One or the PS4 use the machines to watch TV and movies and listen to music. As far as gaming is concerned, not so much. All the other fancy features be damned, a gaming console is about the games, and quite frankly, both consoles lack a killer app. Historically speaking, the game that sells a console doesn’t necessarily have to be an FPS, but it does indeed need something to propel both sales and consumer excitement.
That’s where Titanfall should fit in.
Titanfall is silky smooth at first glance, like melted dark chocolate over a warm, toasted slice of bread, clamoring to be consumed and experienced. I just wonder how good it will taste.
First-person shooters have brought very little to the table in terms of innovations over the years. Let’s face the facts, people: a new coat of paint with a few new guns and maps thrown in along with a new subtitle is shallow. Enjoyable perhaps, but shallow and uninspiring all the same. Some of the industry’s biggest franchises are guilty of this, from Halo and Battlefield to the especially mercenary Call of Duty series.
But let’s talk about the multi-ton titan in the room. He’s getting angry.
Mechs are not new in the FPS genre. While they’re certainly an exhilarating concept in Titanfall and every other game that they’ve been featured in — from MechWarrior to Chronicles of Riddick — one can’t help but wonder if it’s just a gimmick to help spice up an otherwise blase genre suffering from a sort of mid-life crisis. Parkour is a nice addition as well, adding fast and fluid movement while on foot and encouraging players to think vertically as well as horizontally. And perhaps that’s what Titanfall does best, making the player think about his surroundings a bit more, rather than act as a mindless run-and-gun-until-you-respawn bro fest.
The mechs are fun, don’t get me wrong, but as I played and watched for hours, I found myself once again suffering from an acute case of FPS ennui. It’s kind of like eating Subway each and every day of your life. I know all of my ingredient choices, I know all the sauces and breads. I even know the layout of the store. I’ve been there, done that, seen it all before. And it’s the same with shooters, unfortunately. It’s going to take more than a building-sized mech to surprise me, no matter how frenetic and competitive the gunplay is. The game just seemed to lack a certain depth. How much pleasure can one really take when five of their kills were AI bots instead of human-operated players? The cramped and close-quarter maps are counterproductive and play into the hands of the pilots rather than the mechs. I found it preferable to stay on foot and cause destruction that way. Jack a mech here, blow up a mech there, jump on a roof here. It, to me, was infinitely more fun than getting in a slow, strategically vulnerable mech that was devoid of any sort of special power other than firing a cadre of missiles and spout off some chain-gun fire. In other words, the titans are just kind of there, arbitrary death traps with some decent firepower.
I didn’t see much in the way of new game modes either. Last Titan Standing seems to be a lot of fun but besides that it didn’t offer anything as outstanding as Black Ops’s One In The Chamber mode.
Your results may vary wildly, but Titanfall is a no-go for me. I’ve tasted it all before. But what about you? Is Titanfall the next big thing or just more of the same?