Last week I spent two and a half hours playing Titanfall – EA’s six-a-side, multiplayer- and Microsoft-only shooter.
It was enormous fun. In fact, I can think of ten things right now it was better than: sitting on a larger than average pine cone without any trousers on, eating a raw hammer, doing some proper work... I won’t go on. But when I put the controller down I was left feeling that it wasn’t quite the FPS awakening the hype had led me to expect.
Titanfall is a game about being a big robot (a Titan). It’s also a game about not being a big robot (a human pilot). Learning the relative strengths and weaknesses of both and making the most of them is crucial to avoiding titanfail, and I’d read that this double-pronged approach to online fragging breathed new life into a world dominated by teenagers with too much time to practise. I had high hopes.
It all starts off well. The first time you watch a Titan fall to earth like a meteorite and then ‘mount up’ – a bit like Warren G and Nate Dogg (RIP) from the year 2203 might – feels brilliant. Grasped by your robo-chum, you’re shoved inside his metal torso, ready to lay waste to all around you.
Titans are slow and cumbersome, with only short dashes in each direction possible. They’re also restricted to terra firma, meaning they can’t jump or climb stairs. If it’s not wheelchair accessible, it’s not Titan accessible. Apparently the Daleks taught them nothing.
But what Titans lack in mobility they make up for in firepower, with the kind of weaponry that makes ED-209’s cannons look like spud guns. You can customise the loadout of both your Titan and pilot, with new weapons unlocked as you level up. There are also added perks that often don’t come into play until death, such as auto-eject, or a nuclear self-destruct mode that turns anything in the vicinity to toast when your Titan expires. Their arsenal also includes a Vortex Shield, which can be used to halt incoming bullets and missiles in mid-air, Magneto-style, before flinging them back the way they came.
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