Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.
Titanfall [official site] found ways to marry the hitscan weapons and low time-to-kill combat of military shooters with the kinetic, frenetic fighting of Quake and Unreal Tournament. Those ways were called “parkour” and “mechs”.
As a foot soldier, you’d use jump jets to soar on to rooftops, then sprint and wallrun to move across the industrial planets you were fighting upon. Earn a few kills in the multiplayer mode, or simply wait long enough, and you could then call down a mech from the sky. Your robot buddy could then act as mobile sentry or welcome you into the warm embrace of his chest cavity so you could pilot him directly. This war on two different scales was a thrill, particularly in Capture The Flag.
It was full of little moments of drama. When you’d leap onto the back of an enemy Titan and hold on for long enough to tear out its battery. When you’d lose a match and would need to flee to your dropships, pursued by the winners. When you’d be in the midst of a tense firefight and you’d unlock your titanfall ability, and turn the tide with the stomping arrival of a giant robot. It was a great game.
I was thinking about why Titanfall didn’t take off a few weeks ago and, yeah, I agree with Chris Donlan. The game’s drab, mining corporation fiction does it no favours and runs counter to the giddy fantasy of its mechanics. But it probably also didn’t help that the game sold at a ridiculous £50 at launch, with no real singleplayer modes, plenty of paid DLC, no mods, no dedicated servers and little or no progression system to tie the disparate battles of its multiplayer together.