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.

Killer Instinct

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All in all, Killer Instinct is pretty disappointing for a next-gen release, especially since the game is a glut of microtranscations.  If you want the full game, it’s a standard twenty bucks. You can also just buy the individual characters if you want, which would be really cool if there were more than seven to choose from. ~Eric Hollis

Killer Instinct

Gamers are an extremely nostalgic people.  Whether fans are still clamoring for a Final Fantasy 7 remake or wondering whether we’re ever going to get a great port of Q-bert, we hang on to a good thing forever, sometimes to the detriment of newer and more inventive properties.  The original Killer Instinct and its sequel fall firmly in this camp for me, as I spent many a beer-soaked college afternoon challenging friend after friend to just one more match on the SNES from the comfort of my miserable dorm room.  I often wondered why no one had attempted a modern take on the franchise.  Double Helix picked up the mantle from Rare here; I guess Rare, one of the most prolific developers of last two generations, decided they now want to make Kinect games that no one will ever play.  Thankfully, Double Helix stays extremely faithful to the original titles, even if there are some major missteps with the total package.

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Killer Instinct on the One plays magnificently.  Everything you loved about KI—the combos, the breakers, the manuals, and special attacks—are all here.  Other than a few tweaks on the move-set, there is nothing added to the original formula, which is truly a blessing.  The remake took me instantly back to the Tate Center arcade (mad respect if you know where that is) where I played the KI cabinets religiously.   I’ve played over fifty matches against multiple opponents, and they were repeatedly a blast. Most of them were also very close, and for me that’s a huge part of the replay value of fighting games.  The battles are very fluid, extremely fast, and downright addictive.

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Gameplay itself isn’t a problem. The problem is that the total package just feels like bare bones.  For starters, the inclusion of only eight total playable fighters (one of whom—the illusive Fulgore—isn’t even out yet) feels like an Endokuken to the face.  I’m no fighting game expert, but the last game I remember with less than eight playable characters was the original Mortal Kombat.  Twenty-two years later, I expect more girth in roster selection, especially when similar titles generally have a lot more fighters to choose from.  Characters like TJ Combo, Cinder, and Riptor, all of whom have appeared in at least one of the other installments, aren’t even represented at all.  You also only start with one playable stage (out of a measly six); the rest have to be purchased with in-game currency that you earn from completing battles.

Killer Instinct - Xbox One

All in all, Killer Instinct is pretty disappointing for a next-gen release, especially since the game is a glut of microtranscations.  If you want the full game, it’s a standard twenty bucks. You can also just buy the individual characters if you want, which would be really cool if there were more than seven to choose from.  If you want everything the game has to offer, which basically boils down to a couple of aesthetic character accessories and a playable version of the original KI, prepare to double-up on that Andrew Jackson.   The only thing I was interested in besides the core game was the original that, unlike everything else, isn’t available separately.  This fact, my friends, is worthy of ire right there. Unfortunately, this is the model I see more companies gravitating towards.   I understand that Microsoft wants to nickel and dime me while making me squat on a rabid porcupine, but the company should at least have the courtesy of letting me enjoy that while its happening if I so desire.

If you’re a fan of Killer Instinct and you have a One, you’ve probably already put this game through its paces, and maybe you know what I mean. While it’s fun to bust out to show off the only fighting game on your new system, the lack of variety and annoying microtransactions left me dissatisfied.  While many parts of quality of life have improved since I lived in my old dorm, especially access to free pornography, at least back in that abysmal dorm room we had a much better version of Killer Instinct.  Let’s hope that Double Helix and Ken Lobb have a true remake or sequel in the works and that the lack of polish here was strictly due to a rushed launch window.

The Obsolete Gamer Show #31 Rose Colored Glasses

J.A. Laraque

We celebrated our first Google + Live Hangout and episode #31 of the Obsolete Gamer Show. We began with Xander Denke from 1337 Lounge Live which is an awesome video game channel now hosted on Twitch TV and brought to you by Jace Hall of The Jace Hall show. We talk about how the channel game about and the process for all the awesome guests who we get to see in the lounge. If you haven’t checked it out you should. See below for the promo they shot when I was on the show.

Next we talked Xbox One with Grace Snoke who wrote about her views on the recent press release that has caused quite a storm within the gaming community. If you haven’t seen it yet you can check out the highlights in the video below. We covered everything from the rumors surrounding paying a fee for used and borrowed games to the controversy surrounding the always on internet connection requirement. While we answered a lot of questions we also created a lot more and in the end we will have to wait till E3 to answer them.

Finally we talked about looking back on games with rose colored glasses. At some time we all looked back on something we did and thought it was awesome only to go back and realize it wasn’t as good as we thought. This happens in gaming as well. We each talked about a game that we had such found memories of, but just did not live up to the hype we gave it.

We want to thank Xander and Grace for coming on and you can either watch the show below or click on this link to view the show page where you can listen to it via Stitcher Radio or Itunes, you can also always get the app for Stitcher to listen to the show anytime and download the show from Itunes for your apple device.

team rubicon

There is also a 3-Day streaming event to raise money for the victims of the recent Oklahoma tornado. You can read about it on Team Rubicon, and watch the stream on their Twitch TV channel.