Roll up: Ti­tan­fall, the Xbox One’s star at­trac­tion, is open for busi­ness

This month… Thief steals at­ten­tion / Nine Inch Nails go darker / Grav­ity gives 3D a pur­pose / Sher­lock en­lists your app skills

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When EA’s on­line-only shooter Ti­tan­fall was first opened to the pub­lic at Gamescom in Cologne last year, it caused a bit of a stir. Queues for hands-ons were so gar­gan­tuan, in fact, that wads of 100-euro bills ex­changed hands for a bit of cheeky line-jump­ing.

Mi­crosoft has made no bones about its im­por­tance, slap­ping Ti­tan­fall’s high­tech face on all Xbox One ads from day one, four months ahead of re­lease, as the pri­mary rea­son to bag its new con­sole.

This faith hasn’t been un­war­ranted, ei­ther. Cre­ated by Respawn, the de­vel­oper formed by for­mer Call of Duty head hon­chos Vince Zam­pella and Ja­son West, Ti­tan­fall is a tour de force, di­vid­ing up com­bat­ants into two teams on a bat­tle­field where pint-sized, jet pack-wear­ing soldiers bat­tle gi­ant “Ti­tan” bat­tle mechs.

Much has been made of the slim num­ber of si­mul­ta­ne­ous on­line play­ers – 12 vs 64 on EA’s other big run-and-gun, Bat­tle­field 4 – but this and the tight maps are what makes it unique, an in­ti­mate roller­coaster teem­ing with pos­si­bil­i­ties and bol­stered by the cloud.

“We’re us­ing du­al­core servers to run all our matches, so there’s a sig­nif­i­cant

amount of CPU power avail­able,” Respawn pro­gram­mer Jon Shir­ing tells our sis­ter mag OXM, “while the ex­tra band­width lets us fill the world with mov­ing things. It’s not just bul­lets fly­ing through the air that’s us­ing net­work data, it’s the physics of the Ti­tans and the ac­tual AI that’s mak­ing de­ci­sions.”

Once you’ve racked up a num­ber of kills as in­fantry, you get to sum­mon these Ti­tans, pulling them out of the sky like a por­ta­ble Ro­bot Jox, set­ting them up as de­fence tur­rets or jump­ing in for a ride around town. Ti­tans are pow­er­ful but cum­ber­some; you can’t jump and are stuck to the main streets, but your weaponry is strong. The best plan of

perf ect your kill skills and you ’ll be given the keys toa­massi ve tita n

at­tack is to give other mechs the runaround as you tar­get bunched in­fantry groups be­fore cor­ner­ing the big guys to be pul­verised later.

If your mech suit is dam­aged be­yond re­pair, a quick eject sees you fly into the air be­fore it ex­plodes, show­er­ing your en­e­mies with re­turn fire if you so wish (we very much did).

Pi­lots are less pow­er­ful yet ag­ile and able to hang out in any of the map’s three tiers, be it fire­fight­ing ground troops, snip­ing from win­dows or scal­ing roofs to fight from above. In­deed, the ver­ti­cal­ity of the space is some­thing to be­hold, the dou­ble-jump and free-run­ning combo let­ting you scale build­ings in sec­onds.

While FPS play­ers will feel at home, with setup fa­mil­iar and head shots in­stinc­tive, it’s the dy­namic be­tween Ti­tan and Pi­lot that makes for an ex­pertly bal­anced high-tech cat and mouse game, with nei­ther team able to get the up­per hand eas­ily. In­dus­try shows are of­ten a dif­fi­cult barom­e­ter to read, but the buzz around Ti­tan­fall has been im­pos­si­ble to ig­nore. It’s al­ready the people’s cham­pion, but the people, it seems, have great taste. From $90 ti­tan­, out march 13 on Xbox One, X360, PC

RobotJox gets a gam­ing re­boot

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