Xbox 360
Highly Recommended
5 stars
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Overall Grade
5 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Game Itself
5 Stars
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
4.5 Stars
The Audio: Rating the Sound
4.5 Stars
Replay Factor
5 Stars
Bottom Line
Highly Recommended

Titanfall

Street Date:
April 8th, 2014
Reviewed by:
Review Date:1
April 22nd, 2014
Game Release Year:
2014
Platform:
Xbox 360
Publisher:
EA
Developer:
Respawn Entertainment
ESRB Rating:
M (Mature)

Editor's Notes

360 version reviewed.  For coverage of 'Titanfall' on the Xbox One, see the High-Def Digest review.

Introduction

Ever since Respawn introduced 'Titanfall,' it's been clear that the mech/Titan laden online shooter was a big deal on the Xbox One and PC. What's remained clouded in mystery though, was the announced version for the 360. Surely, a game put forward as synonymous with the Xbox One couldn't be much to see on the 360. That is, unless it was really designed with the 360 in mind. Even as months of 'Titanfall' hype brought endless updates from Microsoft, EA, and Respawn, it wasn't until the last minute that the 360 version's developer, Bluepoint Games, was introduced. As the world began to play 'Titanfall' on the Xbox One and PC, the still under wraps 360 version was pushed back a few times but only in negligible two week intervals. Now that it's out, it's finally time to see 'Titanfall' on the 360, and to see what was being hidden for so long.

The Game Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

Attribute it to 'Call of Duty' fatigue, but for me, the first-person shooter, especially one connecting itself so heavily to the online multiplayer community had become a point of contention for me as a gamer these past few years. Naturally, when buzz started to form around 'Titanfall,' especially phrases such as 'killer app,' my eyes rolled and I moved my attention to other things. When 'Titanfall' originally launched on the Xbox One, curiosity won me over and I watched some game play, I was intrigued, but not wholly impressed. About a month later, 'Titanfall' made its way to the Xbox 360, for those console luddites like myself who haven't made the leap to one of the 'big two.' Cautiously launching into not just a standard first-person shooter, but also one absolutely devoid of any form of offline play, I decided to see what the fuss was about. Ninety minutes later, I was hooked; eight hours after that my praises were so high, a good friend went out and bought it himself. 'Titanfall' has landed. The bar has been raised.

Believe it or not, 'Titanfall's' approach to gaming, while sporting a revolutionary feel, is quite simple. Yes, there's no offline campaign, but in order to introduce players to the world of the game and it's various maps, there is an online campaign that is a 50-50 split between the corporate IMC or ragtag group of freedom fighters known as the Militia. Gameplay between the two factions is identical and while each chapter in the campaign does have a brief in-game expository sequence, for the life of me, I couldn't honestly tell you what either side are ultimately after. What I can tell you despite being on a team of only six other players, a battle in 'Titanfall' is always pushing itself towards being an epic experience. Players control the eventual pilots of the titular Titans (simply put, giant robots), while ground forces are filled out by AI foes in the form of grunts (the human version) or specters (small robot forces you can dispatch as normal or engage in melee combat to hack and bring over to your side of the fight). What this ensures, is you aren't continually getting sniped by a veteran player or worse yet, spawncamped. The tradeoff though is grunts and specters only net you 10% the normal score an enemy pilot would, however the way this keeps the pace of the fight going is one of 'Titanfall's biggest strengths.

From a control standpoint, 'Titanfall' is amazingly intuitive and handles without any major hiccups. Seasoned FPS fans will pick it up instantly, and the learning curve on one of the most touted features, wallrunning, is shockingly low. The feature itself is reported to have been inspired from a 'Half-Life 2' mod, but with how smoothly it functions in game (there have been a handful of matches I played where I nearly traversed the entire map wall running with ease), one would have surely thought it was an addition that had been in development for years. When the Titan's themselves come into play, everything holds up just fine with a great balance between fluid control while giving the Titan's the necessary feel of weight and large scale. The best way to sum it up is by saying, if you can image doing it, it's likely possible in 'Titanfall.'

If there's one surface negative, it would be 'Titanfall' is in all actuality, a no-frills game. There are 15 maps to choose from and five gameplay modes (classic assault, area control, capture the flag, a pilot hunt (where focusing on enemy pilots, is the focus, in lieu of the NPCs) and last Titan standing (arguably one of the most viscerally gratifying modes in the game). On the customization front, there are three major classes of pilots to choose from as well as three styles of Titans. However, unlike say, 'Call of Duty' what 'Titanfall' offers you in the form of equipment is all useful in the right combinations, it's not merely filler until you unlock 'the best' weapon in the game. I've personally found the game's submachine gun, a very early weapon, suits my play style best, while I've seen many players use a rifle unlocked midway through the game with equal skill. Add to that a small but very useful set of skills and loadouts for both pilots and Titans and you have a personalized experience that rewards strategic thinking instead of insulting newer players.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

Visually, 'Titanfall' is a triumph, but that’s not to say it’s technically flawless in execution. The game truly pushes the Xbox 360 hardware to its limits. The framerate is firmly around the 30fps and there is some inevitable, noticeable screen tearing that occurs. That said, I’ll gladly take it over huge dips in framerate during crucial moments in the game (for instance, ejecting from a critically damaged Titan). (The game has the option to cap the framerate or 30fps.)  There’s also a fair amount of texture pop-in, almost always relegated to the beginning of a match.  More often than not a scripted in-game cinematic might just feature NPCs and other players for a few seconds before the environment properly renders around them.  It’s initially jarring and to be frank, I never got fully used to it, but it’s an issue I can’t recall noticing during actual gameplay.

From a design standpoint, 'Titanfall' is a work of art, providing a view of the future that isn’t overly bright and shiny. The world has a lived-in feel and despite the future setting, the designs of the characters, weapons, and even Titan’s have a realistic feel. The layouts of the various maps also feel incredibly logical, lending to easy navigation and great use of the freerunning feature. The varying environments add to the sense of scale in the world, with flourishes such as the bones of colossal animals and the occasional flying beast overhead, adding to the immersive nature of the game.  It’s a nearly visually flawless game, only held back slightly by the hardware itself.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

The sound aspect of a game for me, is always tricky to review when the gameplay is frantic and chaotic as it tends to be in 'Titanfall,' as the intricacies of the sound design often get lost when the focus is staying alive. That said, 'Titanfall' is a great sounding game. With a solid surround system, it’s an aural treat with great directional effects and good use of the subwoofer, especially when a Titan is nearby. Effects add to the realism of 'Titanfall’s future world and the game’s best sound design is easily attached to the Titan’s themselves, which are feature a full spectrum of clangs and clatters as the trudge forward into battle.

Replay Factor

From a replay standpoint, 'Titanfall' is an absolute no-brainer. The leveling system keeps you moving forward at a consistently solid pace and while there is the ability to “prestige,” the time it takes to do so is just right, ending up for me, somewhere north of the ten-hour mark, but well below what one would recall from a “Call of Duty” game. I honestly can’t recall a single genre entry that kept my attention as much as “Titanfall” has, especially one that is so frustration free. Bottom line, the game starts out great and just gets better the more you play.

Final Thoughts

'Titanfall' isn’t going to kill the appeal that the most die-hard 'Call of Duty' players have for their series of choice; there are no clans and the focus of the game is heavily on teamwork as opposed to showing off individually.  That said, 'Titanfall' is indeed the “killer app” pre-release hype proclaimed it to be.  It’s a beautiful game world built on the back of a solid gameplay experience, proving that less is indeed more.  It serves as both a possible swansong to the Xbox 360 while being a beacon of promise for the Xbox One.

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1040 x 600

Audio Formats

  • Dolby Digital 5.1

Multiplayer Mode(s)

  • Online Co-op
  • Online Versus

Motion Controls

  • No

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