If you’ve played any online shooter game in the last five years, chances are you owe a debt to the creators of “Titanfall” ($59.99; Rated M). These are some of the same people who put together “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare,” which remains the model upon which nearly all modern shooters are based.
The new game’s online shooter pedigree is evident: It has the twitchy appeal of “Call of Duty,” objective-heavy exercises in teamwork a la “Battlefield” and the smartly designed wide-open level design of “Halo.” By using these fundamentals as a sort of starting point, the developers of “Titanfall” then proceed to play a game of “wouldn’t it be cool, if ...”
“Wouldn’t it be cool if you could double-jump?”
“Wouldn’t it be cool if you could run along the walls?”
“Wouldn’t it be cool if running on the walls actually made you faster?”
And, of course, the most important one: “Wouldn’t it be cool if you could call in a giant robot to lay waste to your opponents?”
Yes, “Titanfall” is an exercise in identifying your strengths and taking them as far as you can – and then adding giant robots.
These giant robots are the “titans” of the game’s name and they fundamentally change a player’s approach to the game, whether that player is inside a robot or looking up at one. Being inside a titan offers a sense of power rare in first-person shooters, in that even the heaviest artillery won’t kill you. You can step on enemy pilots, or go up to an enemy titan and start whacking away at it “Real Steel” style. You have some impressively powerful weapons at your disposal, and a set of jets that can get you out of the way of rocket fire should you ever feel the need.
That said, the titans do not by any means guarantee victory. On the contrary, they’re actually surprisingly vulnerable against certain types of attacks. Some titans can be taken out quickly by other titans’ weaponry, and even the humans are equipped with anti-titan weapons. The robots’ size means they can’t hide, and if a human can manage to land on top of a titan and start hacking away at its circuitry, well, you’d better be willing to eject.
That move –where you jump on top of a titan and start whaling away at it – is called a “rodeo” in the game’s lingo. It’s as fun a moment as any in the game, particularly if you’re on the giving end.
There’s a campaign in the game, but it’s really just a series of multiplayer games strung together with a few cinematic cut scenes (mostly jumping out of helicopters) and a lot of voiceovers. If you can follow the plot, you’re better at comprehending a story while playing one of these games than I am. In fact, it hardly seems worth including it at all.
Still, seeing what “Titanfall” doesn’t succeed at only underscores what it does succeed at. It does competitive multiplayer action as well as any game in the previous generation. Consistently fun and occasionally thrilling, “Titanfall” is just the sort of game Microsoft needs to get Xbox One players through the slow summer months and into the year’s blockbuster holiday season.
“Titanfall” is now available for Xbox One, Xbox 360 and Windows.
New this week: “Cut the Rope: Triple Treat” (3DS) takes Zeptolab’s mobile hit “Cut the Rope” and puts it, along with variations “Experiments” and “Time Travel,” on the 3DS. “Pier Solar HD” (PS3, PS4) also arrives this week, giving a current-gen coat of paint to a role-playing game that was developed for the Sega Genesis.