There be rumblings out there. I feel it in the earth and in the water. The ballistic crack of high powered assault rifles, the dull pulse of jet packs and the ground rattling thud of a Titanfall – mechanised war-suites injected into a battle ground from orbit. Things may never be the same again.
^Talos – Not one of the Titan’s…
Of all the upcoming games to tickle not just my own gaming loins, but the gaming community in general, this would appear to be the big one. The anticipation is as big as the titular war machines themselves. Everywhere I look the cogs of industry and marketing pump out teasers and adverts and posters and banners and footage and more showcasing this behemoth, this potential game change in the FPS genre. And I have to say, I like what I see.
Now, I’m not here to fellate Microsoft, Respawn (devs) or the game itself – it’s not like I’m getting paid for this shit and nobody reads it anyway, but I am EXCITED by this monster that will be slamming into my life on 14th March. There is something new about it, something fresh, something that no one has quite managed to pull off properly before, but it looks like Respawn might just have nailed it.
Respawn Entertainment – for those who know not – is a ‘new’ development studio created by two gentlemen who go by the names of Jason West and Vince Zampella. These two colossi of gaming development were formally running ‘tings at Infinity Ward and are largely responsible for some of the biggest games in history; that being arguably the best titles in the Call of Duty franchise. It’s true to say that today, although the COD games are still raking in the kind of cold cash that would make a Russian gangster feel inadequate, they are feeling a little bit tired now. Ghosts was, predictably enough just a bit samey and somehow feels like the franchise is coasting, like Black Ops 2 did before it (and Black Ops 1, and Modern Warfare 3……maybe). Therefore you may be forgiven for rolling your eyes when I say “Respwan were responsible for Call of Duty blah blah” – but let’s not forget that COD fatigue has only kicked in recently; a few years ago things were different. A few years ago Call of Duty: Modern Warfare dropped – and that changed everything.
^ COD:MW Changed everything
From the very beginning Modern Warfare felt different, unique, fresh, relevant, current. The things we take for granted (and indeed are now growing weary of) in COD games – and its competitors – were like flashes of brilliance that kicked the genre in the nuts and demanded it stood to f*cking attention. Relentless waves of enemies chucking pounds of brass at the tiny outcropping of cover you were huddled behind, forcing you to move under fire to the next position. I can’t tell you what a revelation that was for me. Having to move on without clearing a battleground was not something I was used to. Generally I am one to lay waste to my enemy before I stride over their cold corpses surveying the blood-washed arena which I have created, only then deciding after catching my breath that I will move on and do it all again. Add to this the characters, voiced by real and in some cases genuinely talented actors (Soap and the SAS guys particularly stand out) and a story that wasn’t a retreading of a World War II ‘favourite’, but presented a not-completely-unrealistic current-affairs take on the Middle East crisis. All with M4’s, red-dot sites, javelins, and Barratt .50 cals. It genuinely felt like “why hasn’t anyone done this before?”
And I can’t help but think – or hope – that those same guys have pulled it off again.
It’s fairly common knowledge that West and Zampella were fired from Activision in very disagreeable and unceremonious circumstances. What followed was an exodus of 40+ Infinity Ward employees who all joined Respawn Entertainment. That sucks if your Activision, but for us mere mortals it bodes well. Oh so very well.
Titanfall is their first game, and they are once again looking to slam the genre in the testicles with a big, mechanised boot. The game is touted as a blending of multiplayer and campaign. Injecting vertical combat with the use of jet packs enabling players to easily scale walls and buildings adding a 3rd dimension (or ‘verticality’) to the arena. This in itself is tantalising, giving a free-running element to proceedings which is very fashionable at the moment. The gameplay footage looks intense, fast paced, unrelenting – all the elements I enjoy most in an FPS.
^ Collectors Edition is a must…
And let us not forget the mighty Titans. Mechs have always been popular in sci-fi, whether in film, game or literature, and I won’t waste your time by spouting off about examples which are doubtlessly already invading your head boxes as you read. But somehow no one has really ever pulled off the feat of really – REALLY – nailing the feeling of being in one and commanding the battlefield. Lots of games give you a ‘mech-moment’; maybe a whole level if you’re lucky to wander around and twat some bad guys with chain guns and rockets (and not much else) and have some fun. But Titanfall puts the mechs front and centre, seemingly striking the balance by having not just enemy Titans as well but giving the foot soldiers the advantage of speed, agility, jetpacks and the ability to climb on your back and pull your mech-brain out the back of your-mech skull. Not to mention the ability to seamlessly enter and exit your Titan without interrupting the flow of slaughter – and this includes commandeering enemy mechs as well. Kill? Or Commandeer? Choices, choices.
I’m sure anyone reading this has already been touched by the Titanfall marketing machine and may be growing weary of the hype. Maybe it is hype. But bare in mind this is Xbox One and PC exclusive, not PS4. I hope very much the hype machine is being helped along by the fact that Titanfall is f*cking good, and not just because Microsoft are pumping squillions of Earth-monies into trying to dump upon their rivals.
Regardless, on March the 14th the Titan’s fall, and then we’ll know.