Titanfall has been available for almost 12 hours at this point and despite the usual server hiccups, how has it reviewed? What do the professionals think about it? In short, they love it.
The lowest score so far is 4/5, which is high praise for a game that inhabits a genre that has stagnated over the past few years, but it draws a lot from its pedigree, with plenty of Call of Duty influences shining through the new exterior. Even so, Titanfall is clearly a very different game.
While graphically not hugely impressive, it's still pretty and makes a good job of updating the Source engine to something contemporary. However a big eye draw during gameplay is often the video calls which not only help ramp up tension during the match, but can provide focus for objectives, or give you updates on your titan's placement and condition.
Those same mechs are a big focus of the game of course, but while their powerful, stomping frames make great silhouettes on the skyline, it's the mobile pilots that steal the show. The re-introduction of space age moment like double jumps and wall running, a la shooters of old like Unreal Tournament, opens maps up again, destroying the tradition with shooters of having two or three paths through a level. In Titanfall there's tens of different routes you can take and reviewers constantly found themselves exploring new options, rather than relying on an old favourite.
However, due to the fact that the game doesn't register explosive damage through walls, there are opportunities where defending an objective can make for some tight indoor combat. While there will likely be multiple assault direction opportunities to take, the fact that you can't just rake your high powered assault rifle across the wall to take out waiting enemies, makes for a tenser experience than offered by other shooters.
Overall reviewers cite map design as a major plus point for Titanfall, giving plenty of opportunities for varied gameplay, as well as emergent systems that will give new players something different to discover each time they log-in, or experienced gamers plenty to master.
While some have criticised the way the AI is just a meat grinder for you to level up with and speed up the approach of your Titan, the groups of chickenhead-less AI soldiers running around level the playing field and allow newer players to get a few kills and feel the map out instead of trying to take on experienced opponents on every turn and rage quitting because they can barely put a foott down before getting shot.
However the shooting is almost secondary in the best instances, as game modes like capture the flag and domination are much more exciting than traditional Team Deathmatch modes, which see you more often than not trying to find a real player among the AI grunts, rather than working together as a team. That might change when the pro players get to grips with it, but in the beta and early release, games modes with something to do other than kill the other team seem to be the most well received.
But even in those cases where you're playing through the campaign or playing a map that actually has a point to it beyond mindless slaughter, the story is kept to a minimum. This is thought likely to appeal more to the hardcore shooter crowd, but does provide scope for big developments in the future. New maps and creatures could open up different game modes, as well as deeper story and exploration of the history of the frontier's expansion.
All in all, it seems Titanfall is firing on all cylinders and though it has a few hiccups, Respawn have done a stellar job of reinvigorating the stagnant shooter genre.
I guess it did live up to (most of) the hype after all.