Published February 20, 2014
“Titanfall” is coming soon, and judging from a beta of the video game released this week, if it can vault some hurdles that stand in its way, it could be the title next-gen gamers are waiting for.
The November releases of the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One were great moments for gamers, who drooled with excitement over anticipated games. Although launch titles are usually lackluster, games such as ”Resogun” “Killzone: Shadow Fall,” “Forza Motorsport 5,” and “Dead Rising 3” gave a mouthwatering taste of what lay ahead for those willing to invest in these next-gen consoles.
Unfortunately 2014 has so far produced very little for those eager owners. All the big hitters have been for either handheld systems or the older PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
“Titanfall” -- a first-person shooter arriving in March for the Xbox One and Windows -- may change that.
“Titanfall” seems simple at first glance. Gamers play "pilots" -- guys and gals with guns. When in pilot mode the game takes on a fairly traditional first-person shooter (FPS) mode of running and gunning. But then there are the titans.
These huge mechs are armed to the teeth with rockets and megaguns plummet out of the sky into the middle of the battlefield on the player’s request. Pilots jump into their titans and unleash hell.
The great thing about the titans is that not only are they game-changing in terms of tipping the balance, they are also accessible to all players, good or bad. In many multiplayer games the really juicy goodies are reserved for the best and brightest. In “Titanfall” everyone gets a go eventually, although the time between titanfalls can be shortened by killing more opponents.
The titans are awesome, but also balanced. They are behemoths to be taken seriously, but can still be taken down by a few chippy pilots with rocket launchers if you aren’t careful.
The robotic beasts aren’t just cool add-ons, they are central to the gameplay and also mean that every gamer matters. Even if you are newbie usually unable to get a shot off before getting destroyed by a 12-year-old with too much time on his hands, get into a titan and the annoying tweens will be running scared.
Speaking of running, another new feature in “Titanfall” is wall-running -- meaning you can run across the side of buildings. Combined with a double-jump ability it makes the game much faster, although in the beta test the wall-running seemed to be used rarely.
Neither the titans nor the wall-running feature mess with the fundamentals of the multiplayer FPS. “Titanfall” isn’t looking to reinvent the wheel, but provide the best multiplayer FPS experience, and it’s looking a safe bet at this point.
One of the big questions that remain is whether the lack of a single-player mode will hurt the game. When talking about the original Xbox’s killer app -- “Halo: Combat Evolved” in 2001 -- the multiplayer was praised as breaking significant ground. Yet “Halo” also came with a strong single-player mode that introduced the player to the world, to the various aliens and to the Halos themselves. It means that not only was there something for those less sure of multiplayer, but it also gave the maps, players, weapons some meaning.
Although “Titanfall” will weave some story and characterization into the gameplay -- only hinted at in the beta -- it’s still a risk not to include a living breathing campaign.
This isn’t to say an FPS with no single player can’t be a success, 1999’s “Quake III Arena” and the “Unreal Tournament” series proved this, and to a lesser extent 2011’s “Brink.” However, while multiplayer seems strong in “Titanfall,” whether it will be deep enough to win the crown of “killer app” remains to be seen.
Despite promising signs, the fate of “Titanfall” is like the titans themselves -- very much up in the air.
Titanfall is released exclusively for the Xbox One and Windows on March 11, and on Xbox 360 on March 25. Check back to FoxNews.com for a review of the full release.