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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Titanfall Preview Parkour and Use Robots

Drop me a robot!

Back a few days I and other video game journalists had a chance to preview Titanfall, the new game from developer Respawn and publisher EA. We headed to a tricked out combat lair with open bar to play the game and brutally massacre each other with robots.
This Xbox and Windows exclusive has killer robot action shooting off from the lock-on missiles I just fired at that freaking huge robot. I'm having flashbacks, sweet flashbacks to me jumping up a war torn building then blasting down my enemies with a shotgun.
Titanfall was made for action, the story has been cut for an online only multiplayer gameplay mechanic. You get story bits and pieces from the com speak of
NPCs and whoever is loading out your robot;the fall from the sky. For the most part it's just time to have fun by going on the battlefield blowing up robots and their pilots, sometime twisting their heads.
Some of the robots; the one that sees you out at the start of missions when you jump from a plane, made me think of anime. Masamune Shirow's Ghost in the Shell specifically, for good reason too. The game was partially inspired by his cyber punk work, but I have to say more like ripped the the robot heads straight from the manga an anime.
Ripping off heads, something you can't do in the game (sigh) and jumping from a plane, landing in a futuristic environment or wasteland; we only had two maps open an one was a Japanese anime-cherry blossom tree city landscape the other a war torn battlefield. Jumping into either you can start pulling off parkour moves of scaling up buildings or simply using double jump to get into hard to reach places. If you learn to wall run good enough and use it with jump you could conceivably climb up to anywhere in no time and you'll need to when the behemoth battlebots of giant war-mechs come down like meteorites to blow you away or merely stomp on you.

As a pilot out of a robot you can be sneaky. I would sometimes activate my limited camouflage that makes you almost invisible, once again similar to Ghost in the Shell during our demo session. Standing still it's hard to be seen, move and your body's outline is somewhat noticeable. In the time in between being noticed you could kill an adversary or hop on a robot unnoticed wreaking havoc on it.

Damn pilots, jump on my mech multiple time. I had to get out and shoot them off from outside the mech. Sort of like leaning parasites of an animal. Meaning shooting people of my mech with a shotgun.

Pilots, the walking, running, parkour heavy soldiers you play have access to weapons seen time and again in other video games that must be earned by leveling up mission after mission. I myself stayed with a shotgun after earning it. There is a smart gun, scene in an anime and sci-fi that locks onto targets. After it locks on it will keep firing even around corners or if your opponents starts to get away. This smart gun can also lock on to multiple enemies for quick take-downs. When I used it it took a few hits to kill an enemy compared to about the one or two hits with my shotgun.

Robot droppings are a frequent of the game. An NPC will inform you when your robot will be ready and you'll want it bad for it's heavy gun power. There's a timer always telling you how long until you mech drops. These walking tanks can easily shred pilots who cross their paths. Machine guns on them tore my pilot apart more than once.

Robot on robot action is frequent. While losing the speed and maneuverability of the pilot you have ample time to fire much more powerful weapons such as missiles. Another nice feature is the magnet hand that collect missles and bullets fired at you. Collect them and them fire them back at opponents. You've seen this trick before most recently in BioShock Infinite, it's also a staple of anime. Something feels so right about just collecting bullets fired at you and send them back at another robot.

There were three different classes or robot and honestly I felt no difference in how the operated, they had different load-outs of weapons, that was it. As you level up you should be able to outfit them the way you like.

Robot control is easy, learning the control between the pilot and your mech is fluid. The game universe even alludes to this without breaking the fourth wall. It's clear Respawn wanted you to be able to control the robot with ease and not to slow down any gameplay.

Now robot suits can't last forever. You do have shields and they can get replenished. Another team of robots trying to wreck you or pilots with anti-titan weapons will take you down and then you'll have to eject.

Ejecting from the robot sets you high over the battlefield, giving you a few seconds to plan your next move. There is a feature when leaving your mech to set it for a nuclear overload. A nice touch, making sure who ever killed you pays a hefty price.

There are bonus cards you can use as  give you special powers and abilities during a match. Eventually, you'll be able to pick three cards to take with you in a match, using one at a time. I'd rather that they Respawn use something other than cards, it takes away from the game world and seem a bit cheap. Most of the cards I were dealt were merely little power-up like speed increase.

Graphically the game looks like one of the new best shooters I've seen, my game was running on a Xbox One and I never noticed any minor in-game glitches. I'll say the world designs and maps aren't that captivating, same goes for mech and pilot designs. As the game takes a lot from anime and previous shooters the character designer didn't seem to take any big steps to make the game look different. 

That's the big problem I had with the game since it was announced, it looked fun enough to play and I can say it is fun to play now that I've played it, but doesn't have anything to distinguish itself from other titles more than the robot feature. I'm sure will see more mech suit games down the line, but with the only competition being the garbage that Bandai Namco sells us right now I guess Titanfall is at the top.

If this game didn't have robots it would be forgotten in a short time. It does have robots so we have a better Gundam game then whatever Bandai Namco could cheaply produce. 

The last time I was in decent mech was Lost Planet 2 and controls weren't as fluid, you had to learn how to pilot each different mech a little bit separately. LP2 is the only game in my memory right now where you could combine with another player in another mech. That was a system ago. So this has been done before, but it's losing a lot of the creativity and lasers. While I played I noticed no lasers.

For those with nothing to play on Xbox One this seems like the title to jump into and start firing rockets from, damn these flashbacks they make me want to play the game again and blow up some noobs.

Though you can't get eaten by a giant alien bug you'll be enjoying the fast paced well-made shooter without a glitch seen so far.

Titanfall is out March 11, 2014 for Xbox One, March 25 for 360