The Highs of Titanfall
4. The Parkour and Wide Open Areas
So if there's one area where Titanfall definitely makes up for its dismal story, it's in delivering a great amount of variety in the combat area. And one good part of that is the game's jetpack-fueled parkour, which allows for seamless and fun wall running and double jumping. After all, who would deny the joy of being able to run on the side of an office building, then double jump across the street to land on a fellow pilot's mech in time to help ride shotgun for him and pick off a few grunts from high up? And speaking of said mechs, their involvement thankfully ensures some particularly nice and large maps to have a good old fashioned deathmatch in, with the perfect amount of structures and scenery built in to work with.
So whether you want to jump up to top of a building to secure the best vantage point for sniping, run across the side of a giant sign to reach the vantage point where that jerkwad sniper picking of your teammates is, or dash and jump up to a second-story window in order to seek cover from that jerkwad sniper and distract him while your friend takes care of him, Titanfall's arenas thankfully allow for a lot of maneuverability, freedom and exploration, creating an enjoyable world to blow stuff away in class.
3. The Mech Combat
So would you believe that being able to commandeer a giant robot and use it to launch a barrage of missiles at that lone pilot who just killed your jerkwad sniper friend turns out to be fun? Giant robot combat turns out to be fun - imagine that! After a specific amount of time in combat (which is shortened with each kill you rack up), you gain the ability to summon a Titan in combat, a giant mech that plummets out of the sky and lands on the ground with a massive impact in a scene that never failed to impress...especially when the Titan you summon just happens just happens to land on another enemy, even another Titan that your baby stomps right into the ground. It kind of goes without saying that the Titans are the game's iconic feature and main draw, so thankfully their inclusion is pulled off superbly. Just push a button to jump into your Titan and within moments you're piloting a ton of carnage-inducing steel through the base of an intergalactic prison, capturing bullets Magneto-style and flinging them back at your foes before dashing over to another Titan and and punching it in the face, ready to reenact your favorite kaiju battle.
Maybe you prefer battling on foot, perhaps heading into a building to secure a point while your now-AI-controlled Titan provides cover. Or perhaps your prefer a custom Titan that shoots out electrified smoke instead of being able to capture bullets that also moves faster. What I'm saying is the addition of Titans to the multiplayer combat is fun and allows for a lot of variety...and a gleeful amount of chaos when multiple Titans end up duking it out. And there's always the Last Titan Standing mode if you want more of that...which you will.
2. The Wide Variety and Balance in Combat
I know it seems hypocritical of me to praise the game being balanced despite the very first complaint I made here, but despite how other players end up behaving in-game, at least everything is designed to offer up a fair combat experience. You might think that the numerous Titans roaming around the battlefield will easily squish you like a bug (which they can literally do, and will), but your pilot thankfully comes equipped with an anti-Titan weapon, allowing for proper defense again the lumbering machines. Hell, you can even double jump onto an enemy Titan's back like you were initiating some sort of attack on a behemoth/goliath/colossus/etc. and then proceed to blow the rust bucket's brains out with a carbine rifle, and successfully killing a Titan in this matter as it explodes and send you rocketing away victoriously makes you feel like your testicles suddenly expanded to the size of bowling balls.
As mentioned earlier, variety in combat such as that indeed spices up everything nicely, and the multitude of weapons and skills you unlock to customize your pilot with allows you to try out several different tactics and styles of play until you find something that works especially well for you. And even then, the odds are still evenly stacked against you as well. It all provides a nice, even challenge, moreso when the asses of the aforementioned cheaters have a suitable amount of Titan fist crammed up them.
1. All the Little Things
...Okay, I realize that this might be a bit of a cop out as the the number one high of Titanfall, but I can't help it. Pointing to Team Fortress 2 again, all of my favorite moments in it come not from anything gigantic, but rather from the little bits that an arena shooter with a lot of variety can offer, like jumping down from a ledge above an unsuspecting Spy and decapitating him in one blow just as he cloaks, earning you an achievement. And Titanfall thankfully provides several opportunities for moments such as those, although in retrospect I may have already mentioned some of my best memories in the previous bits, dang it.
So what other little joys did this clash of the Titans bring me? Well, there was being ejected out of my Titan just as a rival Titan destroyed me, whereupon I then landed back on their ride and proceeded to exact sweet revenge via the previously mentioned gun-based brain surgery. There's also the moment where you successfully blow up the enemy's dropship sent to evacuate them when they lose, an act that grants you more experience and allows for a choice rubbing of salt in their wounds. Or maybe it's just rushing in with an SMG and blowing away a string of five or so enemy grunts, topped off by hacking one of their Spectres that survived so that it fights for you. It's the sum of the parts that equals the whole, as always, and the whole of Titanfall is thankfully filled in by the types of insane violence that create treasured memories. As it should be.
So with all of that wrapped up, what's the final verdict for Titanfall? Well, despite the fact that I'll arguably just repeat whatever final thoughts I have in the video above, the conclusion is that Titanfall reminded me a lot of the original Halo for the original Xbox, appropriately enough. Everybody kept talking on and on about how legendary this game was and that it's a complete blast to play, and while a lot of us could definitely see what made it fun, we also couldn't stop thinking "it still just looks like another first-person shooter." And likewise, while the addition of giant mechs, parkour and more helps elevate Titanfall amongst its peers, it never quite feels like the revolutionary game-changer it's made out to be.
What Titanfall IS, though, is FUN. It's still an arena multiplayer shooter that's a hoot to play, a series of action-packed brawls that allow you to either be a tactical soldier, an '80s action hero, a transfer student from MechWarrior and so much more. Really, the game's only massive sin is one of the shittiest excuse for a story mode ever committed to consoles and PCs. If the campaign was either retooled or even omitted in favor of more maps and content, I could easily say that Titanfall is a must-own. As is, it's just fun, plain and simple. It can't quite do the pull-up that lets it pass the Presidential Fitness Test of video games that would qualify it as an instant classic, but at least it's putting up the effort that allows it to rise above the spunkgargleweewee pit, so at the very least, it deserves a damn fine participation badge. Besides, at least it's not Call of Duty...
Previously by Kyle LeClair:
5 Things That Make South Park: The Stick of Truth Awesome (and 2 That Make It Lame)