Titanfall will make you excited about video games again

Where do I start with Titanfall? The easy route would be to introduce it for what it is: a highly anticipated multiplayer-only shooter from Respawn Entertainment and EA, with the brains behind Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare being behind it as well. Or that it is a reimagining of the first-person shooter genre, with an ambitious campaign that ties into the game’s predominant multiplayer mode. Titanfall can be a lot of things to a lot of people, but one thing’s for certain: it will make you excited about video games again. So much so, it will not only push yourself to log as many hours as possible in your Titan of choice, but also find yourself with the drive and need to discover and explore the world of video games. If you feel that you’ve involuntarily distanced yourself from gaming of any kind (or it could be a self-imposed exile), playing Titanfall is the perfect way to rekindle the fire.

It’s difficult to get a read on Titanfall’s story through the campaign. The game tries to integrate a narrative into a seemingly random set of multiplayer maps and modes, telling the tale of an organisation known as the IMC. What’s clear is that they don’t very much like the Militia, who seem to want to steal all their fuel. Then there’s a South African accent-wielding gentleman by the name of Sergeant Blisk (the irony is that the game’s launch in that country was canned) who loves to bark out orders and indulge in a little bit of WWE-esque trash-talking with the opposition. There’s also a war hero suspiciously named after a single malt whisky. The bottom line is that the story is inconsequential, but the campaign mode does a great job of setting tone for what’s to come. Over the course of nine maps (first played from the IMC’s perspective, and then the Militia’s), the campaign is not necessarily coherent, yet it’s somewhere in the ballpark of giving context to what can otherwise be construed as mindless action.

Here’s what Titanfall gets absolutely right, however: movement and pacing. The biggest problem that first-person shooters didn’t know they had was that there was a fundamental problem with movement. Even a fast-paced shooter such as one from the Call of Duty franchise imposed certain restrictions on map navigation and traversing. A game like Tribes 2: Ascend (and a less successful title called ‘Brink’) recognised this and introduced a more free-flowing movement system. But Titanfall takes this to a whole new level. Your on-foot avatars (called ‘Pilots’) can bring out the parkour, wall-run, wall-hang, double jump and sprint at breakneck speeds that will make Usain Bolt appear like a static object. After levelling up through the game’s rudimentary character progression system, you will be able to unlock the ability to shoot pistols and SMGs while you’re sprinting at 100kmph. This brings us to the game’s weapon set, which isn’t spectacular, featuring run-of-the-mill fare like shotguns, SMGs, assault and sniper rifles. There’s a ridiculously overpowered pistol (Smart Pistol MK5), whose ‘amped’ version (available as a ‘burn card’, a single use item unlocked by scoring kills with a particular weapon) is a target locking instant-death machine, and an interesting addition. To bring down Titanfall’s mechanised war machines (the ‘Titans’), there’s a set of heavy weaponry as well.

There isn’t much point in a game called ‘Titanfall’ if you can’t ride around in a 40-foot tall robot with enough firepower to defeat a small army. And Titanfall lets you do just that — every two minutes (in all of the game’s modes except for ‘Last Man Standing’, which puts you in a Titan right away!). I will admit, I was afraid that Titans could potentially break Titanfall, causing balancing issues, but my concerns seemed silly after the first couple of games. Pilots are capable of single-handedly vanquishing these behemoths by either being sneaky (utilising cloak and small size to their advantage) or by bringing the pain — charge rifles and locking missile launchers, precision targeting.

Titanfall might not sport the visual fidelity of EA’s Battlefield 4, but it’s easily the best looking 720p game I have ever played (strangely, it looks better in 720p with anti-aliasing than at higher resolutions). It runs really well on midrange hardware, and performs exceptionally well on higher end machines — the frame rate is almost a prerequisite since the game’s pacing depends on it. The trade-off of having an astonishing amount of visual information (imagine ten titans and ordnance galore) instead of better graphics overall seems to be justified as well. Of course, you’ll be having way too much fun with Titanfall to get caught up in the smaller details. Titanfall is currently available on PC in the country.