Updated Thu, Feb 20, 2014 by Lewis B
Respawn Entertainment (to give the studio its full title) is the product of Jason West and Vince Zampella and after some mucky business with Activision they went on to form Respawn. What’s important to know here is that West and Zampella were responsible for one of the biggest franchises in the history of video games: Call of Duty.
If you've been living under a stone, Call of Duty sold a staggering 65 bazillion copies and earned Activision enough money to build their new headquarters on the moon, in gold bullion. While West and Zampella no longer have the rights to COD (bloody hell I hate that acronym) they've taken all that knowledge and have thrown it straight into Titanfall.
Having played Titanfall during Eurogamer 2013, the game won all my praise for the fact it was slick, polished and just a damn good product. It helped that you could control hulking great Titans but considering the limited hands on time with it, I really was keen to play more. I’m glad I haven’t been disappointed and for all intents and purposes, Titanfall is an excellent product. When Respawn set out to make it, it’s clear they’ve learnt valuable lessons from the success of Call of Duty’s multiplayer. Everyone knows COD was a hugely successful multiplayer game and it’s evident that Titanfall has borrowed heavily from it. From my perspective, that’s both a blessing and a curse.
Titanfall looks and feels like Call of Duty. Its fundamental mechanics, right down to instant kill melee attacks are all here. The only difference, at first glance, is the setting and the Titans themselves. In some ways I’m a little disappointed that Respawn didn't shed their COD skin entirely and choose to have a more unique aesthetic for the game world and its inhabitants. Undoubtedly Titanfall looks great and the futuristic setting, across the 2 playable maps, looks wonderful. It does however feel like a mod at times as opposed to an entirely original product.
Part of the reason for that, I suspect, is the fact you’re still very much grounded on Earth with bullet based weapons. With both products sharing the similar engines, with little effort made in applying a truly unique art style to differentiate both, comparisons are inevitable. One might think that “futuristic” versus “modern warfare” is massively different and to some degree that’s right, but it all boils down to how it feels while playing and both products mirror very heavily. What I would have preferred is if Respawn took a leaf out of Splash Damage’s book and gone in a truly unique visual direction, such as that of Brink. I can appreciate their apprehension to do that, with this being their first product, but it does feel a little too safe.