Review: Titanfall

To win, the man must be one with his machine in this shooter.

You are a pilot who must work closely with your mech - or titan, as it is called in this game - in six versus six multiplayer shootfests.

Every match starts off like any multiplayer shooter. But after two minutes of gameplay, you can call on your titan.

When this robot drops from the sky, you jump inside and, suddenly, you are controlling a killing machine, stomping on enemy pilots as if they are rats on the ground or blasting them to smithereens with your mega cannons.

Unfortunately, the enemy team gets the same deal. So do not be surprised to find another giant robot lying in wait, instead of a little man, when you turn the corner.

When the match begins, veteran players will rush into the thick of the action to kill other enemy pilots as well as computer-controlled creeps called grunts and spectres, simply because each kill speeds up the arrival of their titan. This gains them an early advantage in raw firepower.

But the pilots are not defenceless against the mechs. Each pilot has a weapon that is capable of hurting titans, especially if they are shooting from cover or high up on buildings.

My favourite move is to leap from the roof and onto an enemy mech, open up its head cover and blast its mechanical brains to bits.

This is why good teams have players who watch over one another, especially to take out these ''rodeo'' pilots. When all else fails, the pilot must eject from his mech, slay the enemy pilot, then get back into the mech. Another useful strategy is to use the mech as a decoy to draw enemy fire, while the pilot takes out the enemy with a sniper rifle.

Playing a pilot is very different from playing a titan. The titan has plenty of raw power. The pilot is fast and agile. Each pilot has a jump pack he can use to run on walls and make double jumps.

In the hands of an experienced player, a pilot can reach the top of a building in seconds. If he times it accurately, he can even double jump from ground to the top of the enemy titan for some head-busting action.

The usual weapons are available for pilots - assault rifles, shotguns, pistols, sniper rifles and sub-machine guns. The unique weapon here is the smart pistol, which automatically locks onto an enemy like a homing missile. If you can keep the enemy in your sights for a few seconds to lock three shots, it is an instant kill when you pull the trigger.

There are about 15 maps in the game in five play modes. In Attrition, the first team to score 300 points worth of kills, wins.

In Capture the Flag and Hardpoint Domination, your team must control strategic areas to gain victory points. Two other modes - Last Titan Standing and Pilot Hunter - are simply deathmatches in which only titans or only pilots are in play.

You gain experience points as you play. The better you play, the more you gain. This lets you level up and get new weapons and equipment.

While the graphics on the PC version is sharp, the Xbox One was an utter disappointment, running at a strange 1,408 x 792 resolution.

The night it launched, I had a friend over and wanted to show him the prowess of the Xbox One. When he saw Titanfall, he said he was surprised with the poor graphics quality. Then I switched to the Ryse disc and his eyes finally opened to the amazing graphics capability of the next-gen console.

The combination of man and machine is what distinguishes Titanfall from other shooters. But it lacks a single-player campaign, and the forgettable razor-thin plot of its multiplayer campaigns (you combine with other players to complete nine multiplayer match-ups) left me scratching my head in exasperation.

Almost all multiplayer-only shooters today are free-to-play. All paid blockbuster shooters such as Halo, Gears Of War and Call Of Duty have a rich single player or cooperative campaign with a deep plot, often with a twist at the end.

Titanfall is an anomaly because it is charging full price for a game with essentially no plot. And if you want to get all three future content add-ons, you have to pay an extra $12.90 each or $29.90 for all three with the season pass.

Titanfall may well be rip-roaring fun, but for what it is charging, with no single-player campaign, this feels like a major rip-off.

Rating: 7/10

Price: $64.90 (PC, version tested); $79.90 (Xbox 360); $84.90 (Xbox One, version tested)

Genre: Shooter

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