Playing Titanfall will make it very difficult to return to the shooters of old. Call of Duty is in dire need of double jumping
Marathon-ready trainers for running men
When I first heard about the concept of Titanfall I was excited by the big robots. When I first played Titanfall, my excitement soon changed to running around as a pilot.
Notice I said ‘running’ and not ‘shooting’. The gun-play is tight, as well it should be since the fathers of Call of Duty have shacked up with a new mother, but the draw here, the aspect of it that leaves me utterly giddy, is the way the pilots move. Going back to any other modern shooter feels like I’ve had my legs chopped off and concrete blocks sewn on instead.
It’s incredible (and maybe a little bit anticlimactic) that people are the best part about a game where storeys-tall robots come screaming down from the sky like a stainless steel meteor, and then stomp around blowing the hell out of the other robots. If you haven’t played Titanfall, imagine the guns and reward systems from Call of Duty mixed with smashy-smashy robots of Pacific Rim, only way more entertaining than those in Guillermo del Toro’s long, crap story (instead, Titanfall has a short, crap story, but I’m already distracted).
Pilots have the DNA of new Prince of Persia and Crash Bandicoot: they can wall run, but they can also double jump. Double jump, man! It’s the stuff from platformers and decade-old Unreal Tournament, mashed into a dirty but earnest sci-fi setting. A lot of people have called what the pilots do parkour, which is sorta true since the ethos of parkour asks that its participants look at the environment and imagine new, more streamlined and efficient ways of moving through it. Physics are warped to give pilots a speed boost when they wall run, and it’s soon possible to see lines in the environment where before the doors and windows were simply unconnected holes in the scenery.
The magic happens when you figure out how to extend the horizontal distance from a sprint, into a jump then a double jump onto a wall, then double jump off that onto another wall and repeat and repeat until you’re at the other side of the map. I still lean forward in my chair, controller in hand, urging my pilot to make the ledge and land on her feet, maintaining momentum each time I leap off a building and onto another.
I felt the same way in Crackdown, a third-person action adventure on Xbox 360, its avatars gradually increasing in strength and agility until they were skimming over rooftops situated blocks apart. And again, in Assassin’s Creed, picking out the best lines and oddly-angled beams to touch on before scurrying up to the highest point in city.
Forget the story, forget the action; for me the joy came from exploring the environment and simply playing within it, moving as fast and efficiently as possible. Crackdown and Assassin’s Creed catered to that with their own side-missions, ones that forgot about the pretence and revelled in being a game.
Titanfall, however, doesn’t have a mode where the point is to just run, hitting checkpoints that make you think ‘now how the hell am I going to do that?’ It needs one, badly – I’m getting tired of being stepped on by the big smashy robots.