Reflections: Titanfall Beta

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I wasn’t sure what I would think about bots being mixed in with human players, but it really does increase the amount of action, downtime isn’t an issue because there’s always something to shoot at.  ~Eric Hollis

Titanfall Beta

Part Halo, part Mirror’s Edge, part Armored Core, this highly anticipated FPS amalgamation was released as a public beta this past weekend.  Does it live up to the immense hype?

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Here are my initial thoughts:

Not to start on a down note, but it would be really remarkable if the environments were at least partially destructible.  Sure, this would make the battle a lot harder for the soldiers, but it would also add a little more heft to the formidable power of the Titans.  Also, blowing up buildings with shoulder-mounted rockets is always an enjoyable time.

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Ejecting out of your Titan while it turns into a nuclear bomb and torches your opponent is absolutely thrilling.  You can actually sabotage Titans while in soldier mode which keeps the playing field a little more even.  My favorite moment over the 25 matches I participated in was ejecting out of my Titan, launching my would-be Titan-jacker into the air, and then shooting him in the face before I hit the ground.  I’ve never played a game where I could do that.

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The leveling progression is taken right out of Call of Duty, pre-made loadouts are available at first, but after a few matches customization options open up at a frequent pace.  There is also the introduction of “burn cards” which enable you to temporarily power up your character, these are one-use only items you earn based on match performance.

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Titanfall runs very smoothly, I didn’t notice any lag while playing, always a good sign, especially with an open beta.  I was playing on the One, not sure how it holds up on the 360 where most of the copies will be sold.

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I wasn’t sure what I would think about bots being mixed in with human players, but it really does increase the amount of action, downtime isn’t an issue because there’s always something to shoot at.  For people like me who are abysmal at shooters, this means I actually get a few charity kills every match.

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Surprisingly I didn’t feel completely out of my element like I normally do in first person shooters.  The gameplay seemed both balanced and accessible.  I’m sure this might change when the full game launches, but I didn’t have any moments where I wanted to quit due to frustration, something that happens to me in every single other online frag-fest.

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Titanfall’s beta was level capped to 14, which was a really good idea, because a lot of people would be in the high 50’s by this morning if it weren’t.  The first taste is always free, after that it’s sixty bucks in March.

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My biggest problem with the game?  The release date.  I had a blast playing it, but nothing in my mind can compete with the release of Dark Souls 2. Did you play Titanfall this weekend?  What did you think?  There’s plenty of time left to try it out, they aren’t talking the beta down until the 19th.

Gamer Profile: Stephen Barton

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 I don’t remember many single player games that I played around then having much replay value, they went in a cupboard or in a box once beaten once or twice – but playing other people, especially when you couldn’t see them like you could on a 2 player arcade game, was clearly the future and felt way ahead of its time. ~Stephen Barton

Stephen Barton

Name: Stephen Barton

Occupation: Composer

Company: Afterlight Inc

Favorite Classic Game: Doom

Quote: I loved 3D Monster Maze on the Spectrum ZX, but Doom really reset the bar entirely. The soundtrack was awesome (especially given the resources available), but what really got me hooked was that it was the first game I ever played involving a network. That you could be on one computer and playing someone on an entirely different computer in a different room with just a null modem cable between the two, before we even had an internet connection – that was special, and way more so than just playing something like Solitaire – it was actually walking around a virtual world with another person walking around in it, and it was unpredictable. I don’t remember many single player games that I played around then having much replay value, they went in a cupboard or in a box once beaten once or twice – but playing other people, especially when you couldn’t see them like you could on a 2 player arcade game, was clearly the future and felt way ahead of its time.

Current Project: Titanfall
Biography: 

The rising expectations of gamers for an immersive, cinematic experience outpaces
even the demands on the highest grossing blockbuster movies, and composers are part
of a group of people finding themselves as much in demand in the game industry as in
Hollywood. Music is integral to the operatic scope of major video game franchises as it is
to the movies: the latest generation of composers must move freely between these two
worlds, understanding that in both the key element is serving the story.
One of the composers in this new group is Stephen Barton, whose principal scores
include Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and the upcoming Titanfall amidst an extensive
slate of movie and television projects.
A British native who moved to Los Angeles in 2001 at the age of 19 to write additional
music for Dreamworks’ Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, Barton worked with Harry
Gregson-Williams for seven years as a composer, programmer and orchestrator. Barton
had himself been a performer from a very early age, both as a singer and classical
pianist, but in these early years and then subsequently founding his own studio he
quickly became immersed in the technological side of music-making during a time where
electronic music moved from an influential niche to the dominant mainstream.
His personal tastes are as eclectic and omnivorous as his resume: his work in film has
coincided with a general shift from purely orchestral scores towards a palette more
representative of the music industry as a whole, requiring the composer to move,
chameleon-like, between the homegrown indie and the major blockbuster. “Wherever
there is a good story that you can be a part of telling, that’s where I like to be.”
With Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Infinity Ward perfected a genre that had its roots in
games such as Wolfenstein 3D and Doom. Barton provided the game’s cinematic score
which fused heavy electronic elements and unusual ethnic instrumentation (such as
hurdy-gurdy and numerous wind instruments) into the traditional cinematic orchestral
score. The game went on to be one of the most successful and influential first person
shooters ever made, selling over 14 million copies.
He has recently completed the score for indie darling Patricia Clarkson’s latest film Last
Weekend, and is currently working on the music for Titanfall, the highly anticipated first
game from Respawn Entertainment, a new studio founded by Vince Zampella, Jason
West and the majority of the original members of Infinity Ward. The game is to be
released in March 2014, but has already won over 60 “Best in Show” awards at E3 2013.
Other recent projects have included Disney’s Motorcity, a series with the animation
studio Titmouse with whom he has frequently collaborated, as well as scoring James
Cameron’s Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away for Paramount Pictures. These projects join a
diverse resume of over three dozen major feature films and video games to which he
has contributed music, such as Jennifer’s Body, Sir Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven,
Tony Scott’s Déjà Vu and Man On Fire, Ben Affleck’s Gone, Baby Gone, and extensive
work on both the Chronicles of Narnia and Shrek franchises (for which he wrote a song
on the platinum-selling Shrek 2 soundtrack).