Part of the problem is that the Titans are actually a bit boring, both to use and as a game device. They’re relatively slow moving and can't jump, and although their weapons are pretty devastating, they don’t feel quite devastating enough, particularly as they can’t destroy buildings. Run into a building in Battefield 4 and it’s no escape from a tank. Do the same in Titanfall and you’re safe as houses. Some might argue that’s a good thing as it stops the Titans dominating, but then what’s the point in them?
The other way in which they don’t quite cut it is in regards that sense of creating a larger war. Although two new types of Titan have been announced – the slower, tougher Ogre and quicker, lighter Stryder – we haven’t yet played with them. But moreover, they don’t sound like they’ll really solve the problem. The whole range of Titans should feel as if they bridge all those gaps left behind by the lack of other war machines such as aeroplanes, helicopters, artillery and the like.
The theatre of the arrival of a Titan is mighty impressive.
Allow one of the Titans to fly, one to take a massive amount of damage (i.e. be a tank), one to deploy a massive cannon and, yeah, sure, one to be a general purpose heavy weapons mech and then you might be getting somewhere. As it is you just have a mass of big bots fighting in the streets like they're oversized normal troops.
Before we get too carried away with the negative stuff, though, it’s worth reiterating just how slick the overall experience is. Although the souped-up Source engine definitely isn’t the most advanced out there the design team has done good job creating a rich environment, with particularly impressive animations for the Titans. It may all feel a bit generic (even the whole floating pieces of planet level that is Fracture feels a little too reminiscent of Avatar) but we’d certainly take generic and functional – as a gaming arena – over arty. That said, from what we’ve seen so far we do miss the grand set pieces of Battlefield 4.
Graphically, Titanfall doesn't set new highs, as shown with this rather flat looking water, but it's still rich enough to be considered truly 'next-gen'.
The overall control system is also effortless and immensely fun, particularly as a Pilot. The compact, urban Angel City level in particular offers masses of opportunity to scramble up buildings, leap from roof to roof and – most satisfying of all – leap through open windows. Quite why there are so many buildings with completely open doorways and windows is anybody’s guess but they do make for a fun arena.
Comparing the Xbox One version to the PC the game definitely felt more at home on a console. The lumbering Titans lend themselves better to being piloted with a controller while the likes of the homing-pistol make a lot more sense too. That said, some of the finest free-running fun is to be had with a keyboard and mouse where the extra precision afforded allows for some spectacular manoeuvring.
The animation as you enter a Titan is very impressive.
All told we’re in two minds about Titanfall. Yes it is great fun to pick up and play but we’re not sure how long you’d want to play it for. It would absolutely be exaggerating to suggest we got bored of the game within the three hours we were playing it – something that of course wasn’t helped by the fact we only played two maps – but we definitely felt ourselves wondering just how long it would remain entertaining.
One thing is for sure, though, as we sit here a few days later, watching through the video we captured of the game there’s an overwhelming feeling that we can’t wait to play it again, and that has to be a good sign.