On Xbox One, Titanfall was expectant with not just rejuvenating the first-person shooter after years of stuffy elitism, but also of saving Microsoft’s latest box of tricks. The hope was for a killer, system-exclusive title that really should have been bundled up on the console’s launch day, and one month on, whilst Xbox continues to lose the hearts and minds battle to PlayStation, Titanfall has certainly delivered a devastating counter-attack.
Now arriving on the humble 360, Respawn’s baby is shorn of such expectations, allowing last-gen players to have at least one more ‘huzzah’ on a system that effectively perfected the genre which Titanfall now seeks to reinvent. Graphics are understandably pared down, showing that whilst this generations’ technological leap has been visually slight, it’s there nonetheless. However, almost everything else about Titanfall 360 shines through.
Admittedly it takes time to come to this way of thinking. Part of the problem is the inclusion of a ‘non-campaign’, effectively a string of multiplayer matches with typically rote generals barking orders over your comms link in a poor attempt to string together some kind of narrative. That you have to play through this farce twice, as both factions, in order to unlock all Titans adds further insult but it’s mercifully brief and inoffensive stuff.
With that out of the way, the real meat of Titanfall comes into effect with online multiplayer. There’s the usual modes of Attrition, Hardpoint and Capture along with the more overtly tactical and self-explanatory Last Titan Standing, but it’s the smaller systems woven through that slowly take hold. Customisation feels accessible in the menus and effective on the battlefield whilst burn cards, one-hit perks you earn in-game, add a nice little touch to forward thinking tactics.
Gameplay, though, is king. Once acclimatisation kicks in, the propulsive nature of the pilots is a joy to use and a welcome challenge to master. Meanwhile the Titans themselves are initially fun but latterly you’ll come to understand their hidden sophistication. Maps cater to all types of play, whether you’re a tentative newbie, nervously pacing corridors until the titular Titanfall, or a veteran of rooftop nimbleness, able to take down the hulking beasts with your bare hands. Even losing is imbued with a sense of fun as the rush to escape to your drop-ship adds another facet of play.
Respawn may not have quite made the ground-zero of FPS’s that was trumpeted by some. It borrows a little too heavily from what has come before it for that, but its innovations are certainly more nuanced than the ‘COD with mechs’ some have levelled at it. Time will tell if its scope can last long-term, or if it will be canny enough to fight off the inevitable hordes of imitators, but for now, Titanfall, depending on which platform you choose, is both a valedictory send-off and a supremely satisfying re-birth.