Titanfall review – Dropping from the clouds


By Gavin Mannion on Monday, March 17, 2014
"Hands down the best online shooter experience"

So Titanfall landed on the 14th of March 2014 in every single gaming country on the planet other than South Africa. Blame our networks, blame the Consumer Protection Act, blame the lack of a local Azure datacentre – either way, EA felt it was in their best interests not to release the game here. 

However all is not lost as our friends at Evopoints are selling Titanfall codes and the game definitely works locally,  so there are tons of locals online for you to go head to head with. So we grabbed a code and spent a couple of hours with this multiplayer-only title.

Being multiplayer-only makes it a bit tough to review as you never know when you’ve played enough to review it –   but I feel I know enough about the game to give a fair review now and while some parts are absolutely amazing, I am unfortunately surprised by some of its downfalls.

Prepare for Titanfall

The Multiplayer Campaign

Titanfall is quite original in the fact that while the game is entirely an online multiplayer experience they have also included a campaign mode. In fact there are two campaigns you are required to play through. The IMC and Militia each have their own campaign and you can’t customise all your Titans properly until you have completed both of them. 

The problem is the campaigns just feel like forced multiplayer matches. Yes there is a story but since you are playing against real people you can’t take the time to enjoy the story and so most of it is entirely missed. What kills me here is that the world of Titanfall is incredible. The rich lore, locales and characters who make up the game are primed for an incredible single player experience and the lack of one is absolutely baffling to me.

If you aren’t a fan of online multiplayer then start running from Titanfall now, as that’s all that it offers.

Run that way

Online Multiplayer

South Africa, or in fact Africa, doesn’t have an Azure datacentre which means that our pings are pretty terrible to the nearest European servers. I haven’t seen my 10mb Afrihost line drop under 200ms once, but then again I haven’t seen it go over 220ms so at least it is stable.

If you are looking for close up, twitch fighting you are going to get destroyed, so the game isn’t suitable for competitive gaming from a South African standpoint.  That doesn’t mean that the online experience isn’t enjoyable, however.  The way the game handles the lag is truly incredible. I’ve even been able to win rounds and I can generally place in the top half of the table so the game is definitely playable with our terrible networks and lack of servers. 

The game itself is pretty straight forward, yet it’s wildly complex at the same time. It’s a 6v6 game but you are also joined by numerous robotic grunts in the game so it feels like the game is jam-packed with people. The AI are split between different classes and in general are pretty stupid and easy to take down. That should be a bad thing but in reality it makes it a lot of fun for everyone as even the worst players will enjoy taking out the grunts and then panicking when a human pilot comes leaping over a wall or running along a building towards them.

mine, mine, mine, mine

Yes jetpack-enabled free running, or parkour, is a huge part of the game and truly brings that childhood delight back to gaming, The fact that it is quicker to run along the walls and jump across a tunnel means you run faster than the crow flies is both ludicrous and exhilarating at the same time. Being able to climb a 4 story building at lightning speed and then raining fire down on a hulking titan is one of the most exciting gaming experiences I’ve had in years.

Finally a game has arrived that gets rid of this realistic nonsense and takes us back to the age of escapism that truly defined gaming for me. Who cares that you can’t really fall 4 stories and not get hurt, as long as the bullets work and I feel like I’m benefiting my side then I’m happy.

Titanfall has a multitude of game modes and even more impressively it has a multiplayer mode that switches between them as a core mode. It’s my go-to mode every time and it lets me experience Capture the Flag, Attrition (Deathmatch), Last Titan Standing (everyone starts in titans), Pilot Hunter and Hardpoint.

My personal favourites are Attrition and Last Titan Standing because I’m not entirely terrible at them. Hardpoint, which isn’t dissimilar from Annex and other king-of-the-hill gametypes,  is a ton of fun and forces the action into tight spaces which is always a good idea. Capture the flag and Pilot Hunter, however,  usually just devolve into a bit of a boring back-and-forth. 

Overall,  the game’s weapons, movement, options and experience are absolutely amazing. Respawn have revived the online shooter experience and if the next Call of Duty or Battlefield doesn’t take at least a few cues from the free running nature of Titanfall they may start to become obsolete.

But. there’s always a but, isn’t there? 

Here little birdy

The Issues

The Titanfall that I played at Gamescom last year was perfect. I was expecting top marks from most outlets when it was released and to be entirely fair the game plays just as well as it did then. The problem however is that there isn’t really much more to the basic “deathmatch” experience.

The lack of a real single player campaign is a glaring issue and one that makes paying full price for the game feel like I’m being ripped off. Everyone is quick to point at Call of Duty’s copy and paste routine but their single player experience is always enjoyable, in the same way that Hollywood action blockbusters are enjoyable.  On top of that, Call of Duty’s superfluous gameplay modes, like Zombies, Special Ops or Extinction are usually fun, extra-value diversions. Titanfall only has multiplayer. Is that enough for a full priced game?

Another thing I felt like it was missing was the idea of killstreaks or some sort of reward for chaining together multiple kills.

Yes you get burn cards which you choose before the game that allow you to swap out your main weapon for another, more powerful one, or to give you unlimited grenades or fast movement. These are a nice tactical addition to the game but I never really felt they offered me that much of an advantage.

In one round I killed 8 pilots in a row and felt I deserved some reward for that but none was forthcoming. Yes, there timed “core” upgrades to your titan if you stay alive long enough, but some real sort of reward system would be nice.  You have challenges to fulfil that unlock new weapons, accessories and effects but it feels a little useless as the best weapons are arguably available straight-away.

But probably the biggest issue right now for an online only multiplayer title is the inability to have private lobbies. We’ve got more than 12 people here who want to play against each other so why can’t we create our own lobby and let everyone join? The fact that this is missing blows my mind and really hurts the longevity of the game for more casual gamers.

Die scumbag

The Amazing

So far it sounds like all I have are complaints which couldn’t be further from the truth. The free running ability is incredible and terribly addictive. You can’t understand the impact it makes on the game until you try it yourself. Yes, Brink tried something similar but it was underdeveloped, and didn’t feel right. I felt like Altair with a machine gun and really who could ask for more?

The idea that you get a primary weapon, a side weapon AND an anti Titan weapon is great. I never felt terrified about facing off against Titans and in fact I would generally head towards one if I saw it. A few pilots taking on a Titan together can easily overpower the hulking machine beast. However one on one and that pilot is going to see his insides outside very soon. As I mentioned before the way the game handles lag is incredible and while it is still noticeable I can definitely say the game is still hugely enjoyable.

And the Titans… jumping up and taking control of a 3 story mechanical beast that can lay waste to everything is a game-changer. The game is literally entirely different when you mount up and you change from this incredibly mobile and athletic pilot to a lumbering beast with enough firepower to take over a small country… actually most countries. You can also hack into anti-Titan guns on the map and turn them against the enemy force which adds a much-needed tactical element to the game.

And because of that,  Titanfall offers the very best multiplayer experience that exists in gaming at the moment.

Will it stand the test of time or will people quickly find some unbalances in the game which will relegate it to a distant memory? Who knows? Personally I think will soon be unpicked, and we’ll no longer see Titanfall as being the major contender to Call of Duty’s multiplayer throne. 

However if Respawn release the sequel without the Azure server requirements, a lengthy (8+ hours) single player campaign and some new in-game modifiers I think they could well become the next biggest gaming experience. From Microsoft’s side, if they want to sell the cloud as a solution they really need to cover the planet. The lack of data centres in Africa and Russia is unacceptable if these are going to be used as selling points.

Australia was recently deemed cool enough to get their own Titanfall servers, so now every Caucasian geographic area has one besides Russia.. what do we need to do to get our own?

Titanfall

Conclusion

Should you buy Titanfall?

Well in my opinion it is overpriced as it only offers a single, albeit incredibly good, experience. So in the value stakes I’d say no. If you prefer single player experiences then avoid this like the plague. Then again, last night I ripped the arms off an enemy Titan and smashed him into a mountain. I also ripped a pilot out of his Titan and threw him across the map and if I can’t recommend a game that offers that then I don’t know what I’m here for. Oh and blowing up enemy grunts using your anti-Titan weapon is immensely satisfying.

The game has obviously been lovingly crafted by a team of developers who live for online multiplayer and they have pretty much got everything right. But at some point someone should have pointed out that a large portion of the gaming audience also like single player and playing just for fun.

Titanfall was reviewed by on the 17th of March , 2014 at 12:30 PM on PC

GAMEPLAY
10
The gameplay mechanics are mind blowing, the fluidity of the game and the different play styles required to operate at the highest level make this game somethng you have to experience.
DESIGN
8.5
You can tell from the maps and design elements of the game that the developers have a lot of shooter experience. Everything looks and works well while feeling natural at the same time.
VALUE
6.0
The lack of a single player campaign really hurts Titanfall here. The world appears to have a lot of lore in it so why this doesn't exist is still baffling me.
TOTAL
8.1
If Titanfall included private matches and a solid single player story the game would be banging on the door of 10/10 but these glaring misses are too big for a full price retail game.

Tags: , , , ,

[rpuplugin]

Author:Gavin Mannion

I'm cranky, arrogant and ever so amazingly annoying but when you get to know me you will also realise I'm honest and incredibly good at describing myself... now pass me that beer
  • General JJ the Fett

    No private lobbies?
    What is this, the 90′s?

    • Alien Emperor Trevor

      You can’t play with people you choose to play with. What do you think this is? A board game?

      • PestControl

        Actually you can choose to play WITH friends (up to 5 extra people as mentioned), however playing AGAINST 6 of your other fiends appears to be somewhat impossible at the moment. Seeing as I don’t have 11 other friends with Titanfall I can’t test the latter :(

  • RinceIsIngwer

    Nice review Pieter, I mean Gavin.

    • General JJ the Fett

      Who’s Gavin?

      • RinceIsIngwer

        He’s the one behind you? 0-O

        • General JJ the Fett

          Damn you IsIngwer!

          • VampyreSquirrel

            Lol! He made you look.

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        According to a recent poll…

        • http://www.lazygamer.net Gavin Mannion

          I’ve missed this poll…

  • TiMsTeR

    What I don’t get is why the heck Musica had a poster advertising Titanfall if you can’t buy it in SA..

    • Rikus

      Probably the same reason I can’t buy PS4 games at my local store. They know nothing about gaming.

      In fact, I think most Musicas have no knowledge about anything other than: “let me check on the system”.

      • Hammersteyn

        ROFL that’s so true

      • TiMsTeR

        lol plus they sell old games still at launch day prices.

    • Sean McCalgan

      EA/Respawn only decided to pull the game for SA at the last minute, so I think they probably upset quite a few retailers who had been planning on releasing it last week.

  • Hammersteyn

    Every time I see or hear about a new EA game.
    http://d24w6bsrhbeh9d.cloudfront.net/photo/a6wjN3R_460sa.gif

    • TiMsTeR

      hahahaha! that made me laugh more than I should.

    • ZumaIsPoes

      ha ha made my day

  • VampyreSquirrel

    Still not hyped about this at all… at this moment in time I’d rather take the Diablo 3 expansion over this.

    • TiMsTeR

      I agree man, Titanfall is over hyped in my opinion, sure may be a very good game but the hype train will die down, esp when a better game comes along.

      • Pieter Kruger

        “esp when a better game comes along” Yeah, TITANFALL 2!

      • General JJ the Fett

        There is a better game.
        It’s called Aliens: Colonial Marines.

        • TiMsTeR

          Colon Marines.. Sounds like a dirty game.

          • General JJ the Fett

            I’d be more bothered by the fact that there are aliens in your colon.

          • TiMsTeR

            LOL!

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            It’s for RESEARCH. How many times do I have to say it?

          • Mark Treloar

            Alien Colon Porn?

      • VampyreSquirrel

        True… I just don’t seem to get hyped for first person shooters or RTS games anymore. I’d rather have an immersing RPG, or the like to keep me busy for 100+ hours.

        I didn’t play Diablo 3 a lot because I wasn’t gripped into it… they fixed that issue, and I lost a lot of hours to it this weekend.

        • TiMsTeR

          I was turned off by D3 due to always online. but thats just me.

          • VampyreSquirrel

            That doesn’t actually hurt it at the moment, but granted they’ve had a few serious issues in the last week after the latest patch, which they had to patch. I get 120ms on that with a download going at 64kbps… which is better than WoW (Can someone explain this?)… and you don’t feel that 120ms on SP… it only becomes noticeable on MP when you try hit that last second heal and you’re 140ms too late.

          • TiMsTeR

            Hectic, my rule of thumb always never to play online and download at the same time.

          • VampyreSquirrel

            lol, still get 120ms when not downloading… *shrug*

            FOOD!!! *gone*

          • TiMsTeR

            If only SA gave us international internet speeds and quality.

    • General JJ the Fett

      Me too.

  • Hammersteyn

    This can be EA’s COD killer indeed. Titanfall is doing a lot better than MOH did.

    • Mathias

      Yeah, scratching off the single player is one of those, for better or for worse. MoH: WF could’ve been way better if they skipped the mediocre campaign and focused on improving the multiplayer, which was fun, the 3 weeks it lasted alive…

      That said, let’s wait and see how EA fucks this one up too.

      • Hammersteyn

        DLC is coming.

  • Pieter Kruger

    Xbox One sales up 96% after Titanfall release in UK! Xbox One version makes up a staggering 94% of all Titanfall sales! WOW, I totally disagree with the low value score of 6. This being an online multiplayer means you’ll be playing this for years to come! How many people replay or even play SP on multiplayer games! Seriously, I really hope this comes to PS! It’s a terrible sin for gamers not to have access to this incredible game!!

    • Hammersteyn

      FPS game so PC will be fine thanks

      • Pieter Kruger

        I disagree, this game was made for the controller!! Butter smooth controls and extremely fast reactions!! Loooooving it!

        • Spathi

          :/

        • Hammersteyn

          Mouse > Controller. Every single time. Ask anyone

          • TiMsTeR

            80% of time.

          • Spathi

            For a FPS, 100% of the time though.

          • TiMsTeR

            lol I know I was just voicing the inner peasant.

          • http://www.twitter.com/WobblyOnion Exalted Overlord Geoffrey Tim

            Actually, I think a controller lends itself to the parkour action here. Movement is far easier and smoother with a controller, even if aiming isn’t.

          • Pieter Kruger

            I cannot put to words the enjoyment and feel of this game with a controller, it just….flows!

          • Hammersteyn

            So it’s a case of they cant hit what they cant see, but they can hit it any way because of using controller. To be honest if Killzone was released on PC as well I wouldn’t have picked it up for PS4. You have aim assist during SP but not MP.

          • Mark Cerny

            Ahhh, Killzone, once again our sincere apologies from everyone here at Sony, we’re really really sorry!

          • Hammersteyn

            Obvious troll is obvious.

        • http://www.twitter.com/WobblyOnion Exalted Overlord Geoffrey Tim

          I play it on PC. With a Controller.

          • Pieter Kruger

            Still need to upgrade my controller for Titanfall, I expect my experience to be even better after that! ????

          • Hammersteyn

            How was aiming?

        • ThisIsBullShlt

          Your peasantry sickens me

    • TiMsTeR

      Xbox One version of Titanfall 100% have slowdowns and frame rate issues. Xbox One fail!

      • Pieter Kruger

        HAHAHA! Been playing it on the Xbone and I really don’t have time to count frames! Having toooooo much fun!! All those issues are barely noticeable when you’re heart is pumping at a million beats per second! This game moves at a LIGHTNING FAST pace, no time to stop!

        • TiMsTeR

          but the frame rate issues can give you breathing room.

        • Spathi

          You’re new to this gaming thing aren’t you? :P

    • http://www.lazygamer.net Gavin Mannion

      You;d be surprised how many people play the single player and zombie/exctinction mode

      • Stephen Snook

        I for one would’ve killed for a single player titanfall experience.

    • Rikus

      Not sure if I agree with the first two (maybe three) sentences of your comment, but the last two I fully agree with!

      • Pieter Kruger

        1st 2 sentences are sales figure stats and the 3rd, though admittedly short, is “WOW”?

        • Rikus

          I am just questioning the stats (not you, the person who collected the data) and technically, due to the comma after “WOW” the third sentence is: “WOW, I totally disagree with the low value score of 6.

    • GalacticLordCaptainAwesomeness

      Ahem… “This being an online multiplayer means you’ll be playing this for years to come!” please refer to Grand Turismo 5, Homefront, Warhammer Online..

      • Pieter Kruger

        All very mediocre games at best! If no one is playing it’s not financially sound to keep the servers up.

    • Rags

      Fully agree man. 6 is just way too harsh!
      Played RTCW:ET about 8 years after release, Quake 3 now for 14 years.

    • 40 Insane Frogs

      But is that Titanhype’s effect or the simple fact that a week or two ago, the UK price of the xbone was dropped by 70 pounds? The problem is for a high profile title like Titanfall, you’d think it would have had even more of an effect on the xbone. So essentially it jumped from 1000 sold in the week to 2000?

      I’d rather wait and see what the effect of both a price cut and Titanhype’s release will be in a month’s time.

      http://i.imgur.com/diXrxSr.jpg

    • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

      Interestingly, during the same week PS4 went up by 74% :P Causality or correlation? That Titanhype effect! (ho ho ho) http://www.dualshockers.com/2014/03/17/ps4-sales-also-increased-by-74-on-titanfalls-launch-week-in-the-uk-according-to-report/

  • Alien Emperor Trevor

    #foreverSP

    • Hammersteyn
      • Rags

        Oh just look at that engineer!

      • Gr8_Balls_o_Fire

        That’s cool. But that’s sad. I’m confused :(

    • General JJ the Fett

      So forever never then?

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        I don’t understand. Is that some #foreverMP code language?

        • General JJ the Fett

          Don’t you try to rub that disease off on me. You know I also like my SP’s

      • TiMsTeR

        like peter pan and never land.

        • Alien Emperor Trevor

          Shut up Tinkerbell.

          • TiMsTeR

            I can only shut up with one word. I don’t believe in …….

          • TiMsTeR

            wait thats a couple of words… eish need more coffee.

          • VampyreSquirrel

            Tanyabell*
            Fixed :)

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            I considered Timkerbell, but decided to go with the classic.

  • Jacques Du Toit

    I too feel that the campaign could have bigger and better. And that it has the same ending on either side is a little stupid to be honest – even when we won that last match like champs. But to me this is much like Battlefield. I didn’t buy it for the single player.

  • Tarisma

    I just wish we had SA servers. I would get it in a heartbeat.

    • Pieter Kruger

      If you’ve ever played Battlefield on the EA servers the ping is about the same round 210ms. This game however does something with lag I can’t even begin to understand so it’s almost unnoticeable! ????

      • Tarisma

        I don’t play battlefield on the EU servers for that exact reason, a ping of 210ms is noticeable enough to bother me in FPS’s. Its frustrating and ruins my experience, I know I’m very fussy but if I’m buying a premium product I expect premium quality. That’s why I wont buy this game, if I do I’ll just end up angry and bad mouth a good product with limitations I was warned about.

  • Kensei Seraph

    I have to disagree about the kill streak awards.

    I went to a small 6 person lan and we had a MW2 tournament.
    After the tournament the 4 best guys played the rest of us.

    It was a one sided slaughter as 5 of the guys on the ‘noob’ team had never played it before that day.
    And this was before the non-stop helicopters started appearing.

    • http://www.lazygamer.net Gavin Mannion

      Yeah I think CoD’s killstreaks are sometimes a bit too powerful. hey even if we had the Unreal Tournament MOOOONSSSTERRR KILLL sound I’d be happy.. just something

      • Kensei Seraph

        I like that idea much better.

      • Kensei Seraph

        Just had a terrible terrible thought about this.
        DLC voice packs. *shudder*

  • Pieter Kruger

    Will be interesting to see if MS moves quickly to make this IP an exclusive after the launch success!!?

    • Jonah Cash

      How many have they sold?

      • Pieter Kruger

        2 Brazilian!

        • Jonah Cash

          So no sales figures???? And if it saw a 96% rise in Xbone sales does that mean that the Bone sold more than 200 this week?

          • Pieter Kruger

            No official sales figures released yet so it’s difficult! According to UKIE, Titanfall “more than doubles the sales of what had been 2014′s current leader FIFA 14, which until now had delivered the highest sales for an All Formats No1 back in Week 1 of this year.”
            …..and Patcher said it would at most cause a very small bump in sales…. Anyway, the game is obviously a huge success, you should be glad gamers are getting a nice game and not worry too much about the sales figures however they like to spin it! ????

          • Jonah Cash

            I don’t play FPS games and even less multiplayer!!! I only play Fifa multiplayer… I played Killzone and it thought it was a good game, but I have still not played any multiplayer on it and if it was only multiplayer I would not have played it at all!! But each to their own, if you find it good enough as it is then have fun man!!

  • Rags

    Whut. 6.0 for value? Does a single player only game deserve a 6 because it does not have MP?
    Whats wrong with a MP only game? Its about the hours you put in for enjoyment regardless of the game type. This will sure have you clock in WAY more hours than a SP only game.

    • http://www.lazygamer.net Gavin Mannion

      Valid point but at the same time the number of game modes and maps is also pretty limited.

      • Rags

        Ah, ditto then.

      • Rags

        Oh and good luck for tomorrow!

  • 40 Insane Frogs

    Now that the titanhype is fading into the background, there is only the realization that the game’s a little light (very light) on features. It’s definitely not worth $60. I might be tempted later this year if the game is priced more competitively.

    • CAE9872

      Have noticed this as well “great game, hype, blah, blah, blah…pity about lack of modes and being$60!” So seems to be great game just at potentially the wrong price point. Although I wouldn’t blame EA on this.

      If you had the “second coming” wouldn’t you slap a decent price on it? Whether it is indeed that good is of course another matter entirely.

  • Nigel

    Oy. They said private lobbies are gonna be added in a free update

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