Surprisingly fresh: A screenshot from Titanfall.
Titanfall couldn't possibly live up to expectations.
The first game from a new studio formed by the creators of Call of Duty. A game Microsoft hopes will set Xbox One apart from PS4. A game that's already won countless awards. A game that millions of gamers hope can revive a stale genre.
Yet while Titanfall doesn't break any significant new ground as a multiplayer shooter, it is brilliant fun and feels surprisingly fresh.
You control a nimble pilot who can use a jetpack to leap high into the air, scamper along walls and cause mayhem with weapons like shotguns, sniper rifles and submachine guns.
But it's when leaping into a hulking armoured Titan robot that you can cause maximum damage and have a real blast.
Available to all players when a timer reaches zero, the Titans can unleash chain guns and deadly rockets on hapless foes. Yet they are not unstoppable juggernauts - their massive size makes them vulnerable.
Novices might find themselves all-too quickly ejecting their pilot before the Titan falls.
Fortunately, racking up kills can help you summon another Titan sooner rather than later.
And players don't have to leap into the cockpit, they can instead command their mechanical monster to protect them, hitching a ride and leaping off again whenever prudent.
The 15 well-designed maps are thrilling playgrounds, providing equal opportunity for parkour specialists to zip across locations with spectacular gymnastics, for snipers to crouch in seclusion and pick off prey, and for nefarious types to lay cunning traps. Meanwhile, the Titans must fight in more open spaces.
The well-balanced battles feature up to 12 players plus AI-controlled cannon fodder, and modes include capture the flag, team deathmatch, domination and Last Titan Standing.
A campaign that links online battles was a good idea but isn't successful given the nondescript story proceeds regardless of victory or defeat.
What have you been playing lately?
- Jason Hill