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Backlogged - "Titanfall"

(Backlogged is where I dig into my gaming, TV and movie pile of shame, then write about it!)

Last year, Titanfall launched, and the entire internet couldn't shut up about it. The hype train was ridiculous. Even people I know who don't care about video games were talking about it. It was some of the loudest, most obnoxious artificial hype I'd seen for a game... until Destiny came out. Man. Sometimes I remember Destiny is a real game that I paid sixty dollars for, then just get really sad. But I digress.

So, Titanfall came out, then nobody really cared about a week later. Naturally, over a year after launch, I decided now was the perfect time to hop into the multiplayer-intensive game!

Most of my bitterness towards this game stemmed from being jaded at hyped-up AAA releases. Another contributing factor, though, was not having an Xbox One at the time. What can I say, I was a spiteful little cretin, jealous of all the cool exclusives that the One kept getting showered with. In a way, it still is getting showered with them, though, with tons of awesome games already out and plenty in the pipeline. For my money? Titanfall still stands with the best of them.

It's not because it's some brilliant masterwork of complex, nuanced gameplay that has an interesting story with compelling characters and themes, though. If you're looking for that, you'll come away disappointed. Everything's about the multiplayer, to the point where the "campaign" is just a set of multiplayer maps set on a constant loop. Nothing about this game is complicated, and the story is practically non-existent. Earth's in ruins? People are at war? Robots? Parkour? Explosions?

Those last three are all that really matter, to be honest, because it's clear where Respawn Entertainment's priorities lied: the gameplay. The sweet, sweet gameplay. Imagine a bizarre hybrid of Mirror's Edge and Call of Duty, sprinkled with a bit of Halo and spiced up with a heaping helping of giant robots. Basically, this is a shooter where you run on walls, blow shit up, get in a robot, blow shit up in that robot, then blow that robot up, then blow up another robot. If you like robots and stuff blowing up, then this is the game for you.

It doesn't get much more complicated than that. The parkour controls are easy to learn. Shooting at people works just how you'd expect it to (outside of the Smart Pistol, which has a nifty lock-on feature.) Getting in a robot is basically the same as walking around on foot, except you're bigger and slower and can complete crush other competition. Well, so long as they aren't also in a robot. Then you've got trouble.

That's basically all there is to Titanfall, and in a way, I admire that simplicity. It's basically about grabbing you and chucking you into a series of multiplayer matches, and with a pretty admirable amount of modes to choose from, you won't get bored too fast. Especially now that, you know... all the map packs are free.

And that's where maybe my only criticism comes in. Although, I guess it's more of a retroactive criticism. Looking at how this game launched, for sixty bucks, it's sort of laughable. There's a pretty paltry amount of base maps, and without any substantial single player content, paying that much for a multiplayer game that doesn't have the best map selection in the world is a bit of a rip-off. It's EA at its cynical, awful, money-grubbing worst, and honestly, I'm glad I didn't get suckered into the hype. Well, I mean. I couldn't have if I wanted to at the time anyway, but the sentiment remains the same.

But now? Used copies of Titanfall are constantly selling for under twenty bucks, you can subscribe to EA Access for five bucks and get your hands on it, and all of the map packs are absolutely free! Yes, that season pass that people paid thirty bucks for at launch? Totally irrelevant now! Of course, maybe they could have just done this to begin with, but hey, I guess they got all their revenue up front and just said, "fuck it."

As a result, I'd argue there's no better time to get into Titanfall. It's dirt cheap. There are tons of maps. And, I think most importantly, it's probably the most fun I've had playing a shooter online (that isn't Splatoon) in a while. I've always been a diehard Call of Duty player, embarrassingly enough, but there's something that this game gets that Activision's stalwart just doesn't... at least, at this point in time. It manages to take the traditional FPS and do something new with it. It throws the best elements of a ton of different games into a veritable melting pot, then puts it in the hands of players and says, "go fuck shit up."

I'm pretty confident that, a few months from now, I'll be running on the sides of buildings, riding robots as I blow them to pieces, and airkicking people to their doom on a pretty regular basis. Yeah, it's pretty lame that everybody who bought Titanfall at launch got suckered out of a lot of money, but for the rest of us? It's some of the cheapest fun you can have on the Xbox One, hands-down.


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