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Titanfall

Its amazing to think that its been a little over four years since the Activision/ West and Zampella incident occured. For those of you that don’t remember,  in March 2010, mere months after Jason West’s and Vince Zampella’s culturally defining game “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2” had come out, Activision up and fired West and Zampella without giving them their bonuses, claiming they were dismissed for breach of contract and colluding with Activision’s rival company, Electronic Arts. Four years later after Zampella and West formed Respawn Entertainment and released their first game published by EA: Titanfall. There was a bit of hype before this game partly because the people behind the original Call of Duty: Modern Warfare games were making The Next Big Thing.

After 4 years and arguably the best experience with making critically acclaimed first person shooters, I have no idea why West and Zampella’s new game feels so compromised.

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Right off the bat, if you’re expecting a single player campaign, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. Titanfall is entirely and online multiplayer game only. It does actually have a Campaign, but the campaign is just 9 stages of Attrition( basically Deathmatch) and Hardpoint (Capture point) with some semblance of a story running in the background of the matches. It actually took me about three playthroughs of campaign mode to finally piece together  Titanfall’s story. On top of that, theres two sides of the campaign so in order to full get the story, you’ll have to play it with both factions. Of course, I should mention that the campaign is a complete waste of time. Not matter what side you’re on or if you win or lose, the story concludes exactly the same way: disappointing. I have a feeling the campaign mode was only added after people began grumbling that the game wouldn’t be featuring a real campaign mode like the ones in Call of Duty. Like this was some sort of quickly developed appeasement. The biggest problem I have with the campaign mode is that it only offers two of the 5 game modes.

Speaking of game modes, its utterly astounding how generic and uncreative the modes they designed are. Out of the five modes, there are probably only two that I really enjoyed.

Attrition is basically Team Deathmatch, the only twist being that players get points not for just killing other player characters, but also the enemy computer AI grunt enemies, and enemy Titans. The whole mode feels more like a race: who can farm grunts kills faster? Its funny too because a lot of the players I went up against entirely dismissed grunt enemies, not understanding that they were the key to victory.

Pilot Hunter is Attrition except now you only get points for killing player characters. Kind of felt unnecessary considering its a very small deviation of Attrition.

Hardpoint Domination is one of the more cooperative teamwork modes where you team has to capture and hold up to three points on the map until you get enough points. I actually find this to be the most frustrating modes only because I found that my team was never coordinated. A lot of players would just jump ship and just start playing like it with Deathmatch instead of focusing on the actual objective. It didn’t help that almost no one uses a mic either.

Capture the Flag is a mode I think everyone is familiar with. Nothing to really talk about except that the general size of the maps in Titanfall work well with Capture the Flag. I find this to be the campiest mode so despite it being decent, I tended to avoid it.

Last Titan Standing is a rather unique take on Team Deathmatch: every player starts automatically in their Titan. Once one team’s side has lost all their Titans in battle, they lose. This is one of the more strategic and tense multiplayer modes in the game. You really have to know the maps well and hopefully you have a team thats up on communication. Titan’s deal a destructive amount of damage and if your opposition  is coordinated and manage to flank your team, they’ll tear you up like paper.

 

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Titans are a nice addition to a game that, without them, would almost play entirely like a Modern Warfare game. Instead of Modern Warfare’s Killstreaks system where the more consecutive kills you get you’re then rewarded with some kind of bonus kill mechanic, Titanfall instead rewards players with their very own Titan to pilot of set up as a computer controlled ally. One of my absolute favorite things about the Titans is that once you’re able to call one down, you can set exactly where it will drop. So, if your timing and placement is just right, you can actually have your Titan instantly crush an enemy Titan by falling right on top of it. One of the more disappointing aspects of Titans is how much of a pain in the ass they are to take down. Players are given an Anti-Titan weapon like a homing rocket launcher and a grenade launcher, but Titan’s shields are usually too strong to deal direct damage. By the time you start attacking them, they know exactly where you are and can rip you to shreds with their own guns. It also doesn’t help that even though you can jump on enemy titans and directly attack their weak point, the initial rodeo animation is far too long so enemy players have more than enemy time to make work of you before you even begin to damage their Titans.

I found that the most disappointing aspect of Titanfall was how it handled customization. Like, Modern Warfare, Titanfall has Loadouts: character slots that you can customize with various weapons and abilities which allows you to make something that could fit with your play style. Its a fairly important aspect in Modern Warfare’s multiplayer and with Zampella and West working on Titanfall, I figured that this game would just be chock full of weapons, side arms, and abilities. Its not, however. Even looking back at Modern Warfare 2, Titanfall’s options are barren. The most upsetting customization option (or lack thereof) would definitely be the abilities you can equip: there are only three. You can either run really fast for a short period of time, cloak yourself for a short period of time, or look through walls for a short period of time. Thats it. The passive abilities you can equip are a little more varied, but on the other side, there are only a handful of passive abilities for Titans. All of the customization in the game is just so wonky and really leaves you wanting more.

But in a way, thats the whole game in a nutshell. Titanfall has glimpses of promise, but it feels like a game that came out four years too late. Its stuck in the past when Modern Warfare 2 was king. Its lack of creative multiplayer modes, lack of a single player campaign, limited customization, its 60 dollar asking price, and its 25 dollar season pass…there are so many things working against Titanfall. While I did enjoy the dozens of hours I put into this game, I can’t truly recommend Titanfall since so much of the game is just so lacking. Hopefully the inevitable Titanfall 2 makes up for this.

 

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