Random Thoughts – Randosity!

Game Review: Titanfall (taking gaming a step back)

Posted in botch, gaming by commorancy on March 28, 2014

It seems that many gamers, for whatever reason, have gone gaga over Titanfall. But, Titanfall represents everything that’s wrong with gaming in one single game and why it’s more aptly named Titanfail. Let’s explore what’s wrong with this game.

Gaming Industry Rags

The thing that really ruins gaming for me is the game industry review rags. I’m tired of their constant high marks for bad games. I’m tired of these rags getting paid by developers to write reviews and give them high marks knowing the game isn’t worth it. In general, I’m just tired of how the whole game rating system works. Yes, it needs a drastic overhaul. Worse, no one is discussing this issue. Unfortunately, it is just one in a big long line of problems that Titanfall brings to the table. That the review mags have given such high marks to this otherwise poor quality game says volumes about the state of the industry. An industry that is now officially very broken.

Titanfail

All of the Call of Duty fans seem to be going gaga over this game, but why? Is it because Respawn created it (the same developers who write Call of Duty)? Clearly, this game is not worth $60. By comparison, let’s understand what ‘worth’ means in the context of Titanfall. For example, for that same $60 when new, you could buy Halo 3 or Halo 4 (or any number of other similar FPS titles), take your pick. Inside these titles, you get the following:

  • Single player campaign mode (at least 10 hours of play)
  • Co-op campaign mode (another 10 hours of play)
  • A level up system (customize your armor)
  • Multiplayer including
    • Death Match
    • Team Death Match
    • Capture The Flag
    • King of the Hill
  • Theater mode (watch clips, capture clips, sharing, etc)

Even Call of Duty offers many of the above modes.

For that same $60, Titanfail provides us with exactly one of the above gaming modes:

  • Team Death Match

That’s it, one single game play mode. No campaign mode. No coop mode. No missions. Just full on 100% death match 100% of the time. A game with one single multiplayer mode is not even considered 1/5 of your average FPS title. Even Valve’s Team Fortress offered us more than Titanfail and it was included in The Orange Box which also included 3 Half Life campaign games, Portal along with Team Fortress for that same $60 when new.

Next Gen Gaming?

If this is any indication of the next gen level of gaming, the gaming industry can count me out. I have no intention of shelling out $60 for a game that’s clearly a failure. Oh, it’s probably making Respawn and EA a mint.  For me, once bitten, twice shy. Won’t do this again. Respawn is clearly skating on thin ice. And, thin it is indeed.

Graphics

The one and only one saving grace of Titanfall is its graphics engine.  The graphics on the Xbox One are stunning. But, that’s not enough to save this game title. When it finally comes to the Xbox 360, the benefit of those graphics will be lost. The only thing left is this one-tracked game.

Audio

For the most part, the sound is serviceable within the context of the game. Yes, it helps the tutorial, but the actual gameplay it can be annoying and only serves to add to the repetitive nature of the game. The voice work is average, but not outstanding. There are definitely better voice artists that could have been used.

Controls

In fact, the screen movement is way too sensitive. Even on the lowest sensitivity setting, you can still move the aiming reticle in unrealistic ways. In fact, moving the camera around on the highest sensitivity could actually make some people sick. As I said, it’s just too sensitive. The sensitivity needs to be dialed back a whole lot more. It’s almost impossible to aim precisely as fast as the screen moves with each small stick press.

Gameplay

As I’ve stated, Titanfall a one-tracked game. As someone else so eloquently stated,

Respawn is a one-trick pony

In fact, this game is far less than a one-trick pony. Titanfall only offers team death match for your $60. It’s even less of a game than what Call of Duty offers. Every new level is effectively the same game play except with different maps. Sure, there is supposed to be some agenda that the teams are to accomplish, but in fact, the agenda makes no difference. What it comes down to is how many other player characters can you kill. The so-called objectives of the level are moot. That ‘campaign’ stuff is just added as subtext to make you think you’re getting some extended gaming experience. In reality, you’re not.

Instead, what you’re really getting is a subpar one-tracked multiplayer death match game wrapped in a pretty bow that at best deserves a $15-20 download price tag on Xbox Arcade. Yes, this game is no better than your average Xbox Arcade title. In fact, some Xbox Arcade titles are actually better than Titanfall (i.e., Contrast).

Oh, the game developers claimed to add in a ‘campaign’ mode, but there’s no campaign here. There are very loose objectives during the death match play. In reality, it’s all about how many other player characters you can kill.

Tutorial

Even more insulting than offering death match for $60 is the opening tutorial. For the first 15 minutes, you are asked to walk through a combat tutorial. The tutorial isn’t really the problem. In fact, the tutorial is actually kind of cool showing you how to use the Titan armor in cool and creative ways.

What’s insulting is that they make you walk through this tutorial with the understanding that you will be able to use each and every one of the cool creative features. No. It’s team death match. As soon as you’re thrown onto the play field, only about 3-4 of the tutorials actually apply. You can use some of the moves regularly. Like, catching and launching projectile ammo back at your opponent. In fact, you would never find yourself hopping out of your mech, then walk through a series of gates, opening the gate for your mech and then getting back into your armor. Nope, not even close. As I said, insulting. By the time you could even get halfway through that gate maneuver, someone would have picked you off or your armor would be destroyed and you’ll be waiting again for your armor to show up.

The tutorial definitely leads you into a false sense that this game might actually be something good. Instead, once you begin the game play, you realize that the tutorial was merely a joke.

Titan Armor

So, this is the biggest gimmick in this game and also its biggest failure. It’s clear that this gimmick just doesn’t hold up. Let’s consider just how long it takes to actually spawn the armor once you’re on the level (minutes). At best, your armor spawns twice per level. Once it spawns, you’ll have on average 5 minutes of game play before your shields are gone or someone assassinates your character. The armor is as weak in it as you are on foot. Seriously, we’re expected to believe that if we had a mech like that, it could only withstand a few hits before being destroyed?

Though, if this game had a single player campaign mode where you could actually use all of the cool things taught during the tutorial, you might actually be able to use the armor for a purpose. Instead, against 13 or so other opponents whose sole intent is death match and who also have similar armor as you, there’s no point in having the armor. Once you’re in the armor, the other armored opponents just find you and find ways of getting you out of the armor as fast as possible leaving you firmly running around on the ground so they can stomp on you.

Once you’re on the ground out of the armor, which you are the majority of game play time, then it’s just about seeing how many other team members you can kill as it all comes down to being team death match. Note that there are many other multiplayer games, like Halo,  that offer better ground combat experiences than Titanfall. Hanging out waiting for armor to spawn is just pointless.

Pairing System

When you’re sitting in the lobby waiting for a game to start, you’ll see the game pairing you up with other opponents. There are two teams, red and blue (sound familiar?). Anyway, the ‘red’ and ‘blue’ teams pair up on the playing field to begin team death match. Before that happens, though, you’ll notice that the game will pair level 2 players with level 40 players (and all levels in between). Clearly, there is also a huge disparity here. Again, another Respawn design failure.

And this is the single reason why many players are going gaga over this title. There is nothing better than leveling your player up for hours and hours and then having all of the weapons and armor to run around the playing field picking off level 2 and level 3 players. Not only is this no fun for the low level players, it’s completely unfair to those who just bought the game and are simply trying to figure out how to play it. There’s nothing fun about constantly having to respawn your character because some 13 year old sniper keeps picking you off from a hill.

Multiplayer gaming is clearly headed in the wrong direction. I’m not even sure what Respawn was thinking here. I can certainly see why some players love having this ‘advantage’. There are always people looking to game the game so they can play the game on their terms (and outside of what the developers had intended). Clearly, Respawn has given that type of exploitative gamer the perfect vehicle in Titanfall. For the rest of us, the game is a disaster.

Multiplayer gaming

MMO games have been around for quite some time. For example, World of Warcraft. Some MMO titles have even made it to the console like Defiance. I’m not here to say that MMO titles are in any way perfect. But, for a multiplayer experience, games like WOW and Defiance did a whole lot more right than wrong. For example and for that same $60, Defiance offers us a full campaign mode built into the multiplayer experience. So, if you want to run off and do your own solo thing, the single player campaigns are there. You can team up with multiple people and help others complete their campaign quests. There are even some side 4 player co-op games built-right in. Again, Defiance offered much much more than Titanfall. On top of all of that, Defiance offered regularly scheduled group events that everyone in the game could participate in.

Defiance was glitchy, the graphics were rudimentary and clearly didn’t offer up the perfect gaming experience. But, I believe that problem to be more naivety on the part of the developers than on being intentionally stupid. The developers seemed to cut some corners in producing Defiance and the in-game world suffered.  Above all of that, though, Defiance still shines as an example of how multiplayer campaign can be done right and still give us value at $60. Now that the price on Defiance has dropped, it’s well worth the money to give it a play before the servers are taken down.

Team Death Match Mode

This is one of the oldest multiplayer modes ever conceived. It dates as far back as Doom. And believe me, Doom’s multiplayer death match is a whole lot more fun than Titanfall. The problem is, death match gets boring fast. Unless you’re hosting a lan party at your house and you have a bunch of systems strung together, death match is as boring as the day is long after an hour. Sure, it’s fun for about the first 30 minutes, but after that I want to do something different. Titanfall doesn’t offer that. It’s the same repetitive task over and over. For those people who have a touch of OCD, this is probably the perfect game. For those of us who don’t have that, repetitive gaming gets boring really fast.

The Problem with Next Gen

I hope that Titanfall is an anomaly on the Next Gen landscape. If this is the level of gaming that we have to look forward to, the Xbox One may find itself completely out of the running in the console wars. Clearly, paying $60 dollars for a game that’s worth at most $10-15 and that also belongs as an Xbox Arcade title is completely insulting to seasoned gamers looking for gaming value.

If you’re a gamer reading this and you’re feeling incensed over this review (and for whatever reason you absolutely love Titanfail), your anger is clearly misdirected. You need vent your frustrations at the gaming companies who keep finding ever more clever ways of ripping us off. Clearly, this game stands as the gaming industry’s crowning achievement in ripping the gamer off. Titanfall is the shining example of how not to produce a $60 game.

Thankfully, I invested in the $249 collector’s version that includes a large sized statue and art book. While I don’t necessarily want to show my support for this game on my desk, I can easily recoup my investment in this game by selling the statue on eBay as a collectible. This statue will likely easily increase in value unlike most games which only ever decrease. With Titanfall, I fully expect this game to decrease in used pricing faster than most (probably $20 by mid summer .. the price it really should have been).

Recommendation

If you absolutely must try game, rent. The only gamer type to whom I recommend this game is anyone who dearly loves multiplayer death match. If you’re looking for any other gaming experience, you won’t find it in Titanfall.

Rating

  • Gameplay: 2/10 (Titans take too long to spawn, game controls are overly sensitive, death match only)
  • Graphics: 9/10 (eye candy, but not perfect)
  • Audio: 8/10 (voiceover work average, music reasonable)
  • Overall Rating: 2/10 (not enough gaming value for the money)
  • Overall Recommendation: Rental only. Save your $60 for real games.

Note: there is some discussion that Respawn is already contemplating DLC to add other modes like King of the Hill or Capture the Flag. But, it’s also likely you’ll have to buy a season pass to get these features that should have already been included in that initial $60. 

All comments are encouraged under the following rules: Comments will not be posted that contain personal attacks. Personal attacks only serve to degrade your comment, make you seem like a troll, weaken your stance and undermine your points. Please choose your words carefully. Thank you for contributing!

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