Tina Amini writes the Kotaku review for Titanfall, the game that everyone is talking about. Her verdict: Believe the hype. It's really awesome and fun and awesomely fun. I love the idea of being in a post-apocalyptic world driving a giant robot—and having infinite lives.
I think I know what my favorite moment in Titanfall is.
I'm in a Titan when my display tells me an enemy pilot has crawled up my back. My Titan's near death anyway and I know there won't be time to hop off and shoot the pilot down. Besides, my Titan is prepared for this exact moment. Earlier, I equipped it with a kit that would eject me, cloaked, just before it was set to explode. I should be just fine.
My Titan automatically launches me into the air and I see the colors of the sky and buildings whiz by, blurring together. My eyes focus on the enemy pilot who was just attacking me. He had been launched into the air, too, upon my Titan's explosion.
So here we are, two pilots, flying parallel up to the sky; me cloaked, him staring straight at me. I have a slight advantage and I kill him while our upwards movement is in sync. I had never done that before. Until that point, I didn't even know you could do that.
Or...wait. No, this was my favorite moment:
I'm on a catwalk a platform above the ground. A lone Titan looks like he's halfway on health. He hasn't spotted me yet. I remember thinking I could take him out with a few anti-Titan rounds.
So I do my usual routine: cloak, throw an EMP grenade at him to fuzz out his display, and then unload rockets at him. Despite the display fuzz, he spins around and starts shooting at me. Direct hits.
My screen's red, telling me I'm about to die, and I almost panic. But instead I turn around and run against the side of the wall, away from the threatening Titan. The wall is ending. I jump at an angle to my left and run against the next wall, which eventually turns me back around to the other side of the same Titan.
I'm above the Titan. I let myself fall down off the wall while throwing my last EMP grenade at him. He's writhing, disrupted by my grenade, near death. Latched onto his back, I finish the job with my carbine to walk away triumphant. I'd taken down a beast built for destruction all by myself.
No, no, no. Hold on. This is surely my favorite moment:
Luke and I are in a game together. He's in a Titan, I on foot. I see him walking ahead of me, so I jump on his back for a ride. He starts getting hit by a pilot on some rooftop. At his gargantuan size, it's difficult to find and access the tiny hiding spots pilots can crawl into. So I jump off, run up to the building and shoot the pilot down.
Luke continues on up ahead and I race across the tops of the buildings next to him to keep up. As I get to the end of the last tall building, I see him facing off against an enemy Titan. I cloak, throw grenades, and take out my anti-Titan rocket launcher. The enemy Titan is so distracted by Titan Luke's commanding presence that he never once tries to take me out, though I'm sure his display is yelling at him that he's getting attacked from an opposite direction. We take him out in a team effort, and I jump over onto Luke's back again, prepared for the next one.
Yeah, that one was awesome. But one more try. It must be this one:
Luke, Kirk and I are racing to the dropship location indicated on the map. We just tore through the enemy team that round and wanted to make sure they couldn't escape during the epilogue. I'm pretty sure Luke and Kirk are stomping around as Titans near the dropship area, but I'm too busy sneaking up the building's sides and taking pilots out mercilessly as they try to approach. I think one or two might have slipped through, but I take out at least three myself.
I'm on a killing spree high, and the three of us are sharing a round of private trash talking on party chat. The seconds are ticking down and we're focusing our energy on demolishing the ship. The ship is within an inch of its life. It's about to pull away. We're getting anxious. Can we do it, can we pull it off?
The ship is lifting up off the ground. Shields completely destroyed, it's got maybe an eighth of its health left. The engines are rumbling, the ship is lifting up higher, it's about to take off. The three of us keep unloading on it. Maybe there's a chance, maybe there's a chance.
Just as it's exiting our reach we manage to tick the ship's health down another notch. It's barely another hit before death! But it's gone. Zipped out of sight. We almost made it! We're shouting into party chat now, "OH MY GOD, OH MY GOD WE ALMOST DID IT. HOLY SHIT, DO YOU SEE THAT?!"
So, we didn't get to pull of the best, most perfect, awesomest round we ever played together in the history of playing together. But wouldn't it have been cool if we did?
I have a lot of favorite moments in Titanfall.
It's hard not to when you can string jumps together to navigate dilapidated buildings, side-run against suspended walls and hang against ledges and platforms all in one sequence. Titanfall starts you off as a pilot capable of these movements. You're outfitted with a jetpack of sorts that lets you jump and double-jump across each map.
The best players can race across the map in a matter of seconds. The best players are in your face before you see them, and are gone just as quickly. The best players can leap off of buildings to land a jump-kick on your face. The best players are probably a little annoying...until you learn how to be the best player.
I love first-person shooters. I'll play most that come out. But it's mostly because of my history with them, because I'm good at them, that I keep coming back. I'll recommend a few to friends who I know like FPSes already, and I'll even give a couple a good review here or there on Kotaku.
But I haven't wanted to recommend a multiplayer-based first-person shooter to absolutely everyone quite like I do with Titanfall.
Anyone can get into this game. Sure, there's a learning curve, like there is in any game. And when you're just starting off at level 1, the level 20s and 30s with their upgraded carbines and newly-acquired SMGs will feel like a steep challenge. But it's still an exhilarating feeling when you're stomping around in a Titan, the giant, pilot-controlled mechs that you can call down. And, thanks to an undiscriminating countdown that every player starts every match with, everyone gets a Titan, regardless of how good or bad you're doing that round. Everyone gets to have a little fun.
I've seen a lot of gamers worry that this means Titanfall will hold your hand, or that Titanfall is too easy, too toned-down, too casual. That's not at all the case here. It just means that, while an expert player is tearing down new and experienced players alike, the new guys are hopping around trying to figure out what this parkour thing is all about. They're popping a few computer-controlled grunts and feeling good about it. There's nothing wrong with letting everyone have a piece of the fun, winning or losing. Accessibility isn't innately a bad thing, however terrifying a prospect that might be to some gamers. Accessibility done right is wonderful, and developer Respawn has executed it with grace and balance in Titanfall.
Learning Titanfall is new and exciting. Being excellent at Titanfall is fulfilling. There's room for everyone here. And it's exactly why I am so enthusiastic to recommend people play it.
I've spent a lot of time gushing about this game, talking about why it's so exciting and how to be good at it. A lot of us at Kotaku have been enjoying it. But I haven't spoken much about the campaign—mostly because it's exactly the experience of multiplayer with some (bad) writing attached. No, literally, exactly the same. There are two factions fighting against each other, as often happens in this genre, and you can play as both for two separate campaigns.
The nine levels per campaign are a mix of the Attrition (read: Team Deathmatch) and Hardpoint (read: Domination) modes. At the start of each mission something will explode and someone will say something about "we have to get them!" I'm mostly distracted the entire time, anxious to get in the match. While you run around on the field, some gruff- and some military-official-sounding people will talk about oil and the rebellion and insurgents and something something something. But it really doesn't matter. The only thing that matters in the campaign is that you'll unlock the remaining two Titan chassis so that you can start customizing your Titans using them.
Aside from the dialogue and a few moments of scripted action, there's not much substance in the multiplayer campaign. It 100% doesn't matter, though, because even Attrition on its own is enough to carry Titanfall, all throughout the day, in my head. I'm late to classes because of Titanfall. I schedule meetings with friends around my Titanfall meetings with my gamer friends. I'm tweeting nonstop about Titanfall. I just want to go home right now, right this second, and play more Titanfall.
There are a few other details you might find important in a review.
You can customize both your pilot and Titan loadouts, unlocking more available loadouts as you level up. There are guns and sidearms and anti-Titan weapons to choose from. Then there's your tactical ability. I love the cloak; it's the most useful one in Titanfall specifically, and you see most everyone using it. Your ordnance is your grenade—you can opt for the classic frag or something stickier that you can detonate at your leisure. Kits will help you boost your tactical abilities, map views, give you extra ordnance, and all sorts of other small bonuses. You get two of those.
Titans have similar customization setups, except, instead of cloaking and grenades, you get options for shields and massive rockets and other heavy alternative fire. The kits for Titans pertain specifically to them, so it's stuff like shield bonuses and things to do with death triggers (like whether you want to eject automatically or burst into a bomb on death). They're small tweaks that help to fit whatever style of play you like best.
Boy, are these maps well-designed. They're mostly outfitted with open areas for Titans (some of which are indoors, and that's awesome) as well as pathways for pilots to parkour around. Once you get the hang of them, you feel like the map is your playground. And it is. There's the usual variety—desert, city, night, day—and sometimes you get some interesting backdrops, too.
This is nothing new in a first-person shooter, so you're likely familiar with it. Rodeo a Titan (which is what they call grabbing on to its back to kill it), kick a grunt, etc., etc. Complete enough of these and you'll unlock this next bullet point...
- Burn Cards
These are small bonuses, much like the kits you equip your pilot/Titans with, but they are consumables that are only available after each death. Once you do equip it, you have only that respawned life to use it. If you die instantly, that's it. It's gone. They can be useful, but also forgettable. Which is a shame, because they do add a little extra oomph to each respawn.
I think I know what my favorite moment in Titanfall is, but I can't be sure. There are a lot. But there's one I'll always remember fondly and, despite appearances, it feels like the most telling one:
I'm playing with Kirk. We flank the map, running across a series of slanted rooftops to the map's center. I'm about to cloak and drop down to tail some pilot I spotted. I see Kirk, hanging out on top of a roof on the other side of my prey. He starts shooting in my direction. I turn to look to where he was shooting at my right and watch as a pilot falls on his back, dead. I turn back to Kirk and we're cheering on party chat. "You saved my life! Kirk, you saved my life and I witnessed that!" We're cheering and talking over each other excitedly, giggling, and we can't get over how much we love this game and we keep telling each other how much we love this game.
It might not be the most trademark Titanfall moment ever, but, for me, it just shows how good this game feels and how good it makes you feel.
For a second opinion, check out this review written by Neryl over at TAY, our reader-run blog.