Kill Them All with Robots: Titanfall and Blacklight, reviewed


Gone are the days when you had to play FPS (First Person Shooter) games alone. Now with the proliferation of ADSL and 3G/4G internet access, you now have the ability to wreak total and utter havoc online with your pals. Now there are TONs of games in this category, but today we’re going to look at two: Titanfall – and Blacklight Retribution.

One is a decidedly AAA title, fuelled by the EA juggernaut and Respawn. The other is an indie served up by MMO publisher Perfect World and developer Zombie Studios – and it’s free to play on Steam as well. Let’s fight!

Titanfall: a soldier sprints for saefty
Titanfall: a soldier sprints for saefty

Both have stunning similarities. Both are futuristic first-person multiplayer shooters. Both have fast-paced gameplay and a whole range of weapons with which you can stab, shoot, ‘nade and otherwise frag your enemies.

Both have mecha suits.

No, I’m not kidding. The concept of wielding giant, futuristic robots have been with us for since long before Gundam or Evangelion arrived. Both these games let you play out these fantasies – the question is, which one’s better?

Let’s get the obvious out of the way

Both games are very similar. There are lots of similar concepts on both sides. Both are sci-fi shooters. Both are online shooters. They even have very similar game-types – industry staples like Team Deathmatch and Caputure the Flag coupled with small twists. Blacklight literally has everything you’ve seen from Unreal to Call of Duty to Team Fortress – Last Man Standing, Search and Destroy, even Seige (where you defend or attempt to destroy a giant mech through enemy territory).

Someone just died.
Someone just died.

Now that the Titan is out of the bag….

So you have a massive pool of players, with a wide assortment of weapons and customization; what more could you want? Well how about a 20-foot robot? That’s precisely the premise behind Respawn Entertainment’s Titanfall.

The core mechanic is easy to grasp: you are a Pilot (a footsoldier with mad skills) and you have the ability to call down a giant, hulking robot-slash-suit-of-armor at some point during the game.

As a Pilot, you are pretty epic – you can wall run, jump great distances via jetpacks, cloak yourself for a short period of time and perform stealth takedowns. It’s simple, brutal and gives you that warm and fuzzy feeling you’ve come to expect from a good FPS game. And then you get the Titans – massive robotic mechanical giants which drop down from the sky, preloaded with a wide arsenal of advanced weaponry to dish out damage.  Once you call down your Titan, you clamber on board – and unleash hell. Titans can even operate by themselves, so yes, it’s like calling down twenty-feet of carnage.


Let’s see your steel, son

Blacklight: Retribution takes a different approach. Firstly, you’re a soldier. Unlike in Titanfall, where you’re relegated to one of three classes with their own loadouts and playstyles (that’s Assassin, CQB and Rifleman), BLR is very heavily stat-based. Your character is classless and starts with a default set of weapons. Where you go from there is up to you.

As you play, and as you kill, you rack up something called CP (Combat Points). You can trade in these CP for items in the course of a game – including a mech suit called a “Hardsuit”. Similar to Titanfall, this piece of equipment is designed to take a lickin’ and still keep tickin’. Unlike Titanfall, where the Titan spawns every two or so minutes, the Hardsuit is available to players who collect 1300 CP. The deployment method seen in Titanfall seems to have been taken out of a leaf of BL:R’s books, as they both utilize similar deployment mechanisms (giant mech suits falling from the sky and landing in the heat of battle – did we mention BLR is older than Titanfall?).

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BLR’s hardsuits are definitely smaller.

The Hardsuits are rare compared to the Titans, though. They’re slower than normal players, but pack a massive punch, starting off with a railgun as well as a one-hit-kill cannon of sorts. Each Hardsuit that spawns has a randomly generated weak spot that takes a ton of damage. They  have afterburners attached that when used, propel the Hardsuit forward causing destruction to anything in its immediate path. All in all, decidedly Titan-ish – but more of an optional accessory than a core tenet of gameplay.

In fact, more important is the HRV, the Hyper Reality Visor. This piece of equipment enables the player to see through the entire map and pick out enemies and allies alike for a short period of time. Which, as any FPS player will tell you, is a gamechanger.  This thing refreshes. There’s no hiding from it. It’s like X-ray vision, except everybody has it in bursts. This, and not the Hardsuit, is the central speciality of BLR.

To shotgun or not to shotgun, that is the question.

Both Titanfall and BLR are very different gameplay-wise.

Titanfall uses classes. We’ve mentioned this. We’ve also mentioned that BLR doesn’t.Blacklight takes some planning, with customization levels that are like a cross between Crysis and Loadout. You start off with a basic framework like an assault rifle or shotgun. From there onwards, it gets interesting. Players have the ability to change clip, barrel, stock, sight, basically anything and everything. Each component you modify affects a number of stats such stamina, how long it takes to scope-in, and your bullet spread, giving you plenty of room to fine tune your loadout to your needs. Medipacks which let you revive other players, grenade launchers – your playstyle depends on what you give your character.

So we hear you wanted to customize

And since it’s free-to-play, the amount of stuff you can buy to mod out your gun is limited: you either cough up real money or you play and earn it in-game. And interestingly, all components have their good sides and bad sides. A gun barrel that might increase your range might reduce your running speed and lower hipfire accuracy. Even when paying and earning, there’s an element of balance. It makes the “experience grind” more exciting since you’re always on the hunt for the next best piece of gear and decisions have to be made very carefully.

Titanfall relies on loadouts – pick a weapon set and roll with it.  Players can have up to 5 custom pilot loadouts in addition to the stock 3 loadouts and the same holds true for the Titan loadout as well.  I find that using the Smart Pistol in conjunction with a SMG or assault rifle is the best option. Jokingly referred to as a “noob pistol”, the Smart pistol locks on to enemy targets and can perform a one hit kill. What it lacks in customization, it makes up for with versatile weapons – including in the Titans, where you get lock on missiles, chain guns, rocket launchers, shields that return fire – you get the general idea. Pick your poison and start spreading the pain.

titanfall ingame2
And pray.

This isn’t to say that BLR’s without its unique weapons – for example, there’s a grenade that literally gives you a Blue Screen of Death (thankfully temporary), another one that slows you down, like a stun charge, flamethrowers (which you can use to burn a player out of their Hardsuit, leaving the suit itself intact and ripe for hijacking). Titanfall, too, has its own weapon sets, customizations and upgrades – everything you need for a huge variety of playstyles. It’s epic fun.

So what do I need to get some of this action?

Two things: a decent PC and some data.

Titanfall is only available to purchase and download through Origin. Currently the game retails for around 7000LKR. While this may seem a tad on the expensive side, once you play the game, you feel it’s worth it. If you have a friend who owns the game (much like I do) you can offer them cookies and chocolate in exchange for their origin details to login and experience the awesomeness of TitanFall yourself.

Mind you, if you are going to download the game, be sure you have enough data from your ISP as the game is a whopping 50+GB. At least 35GB of this is uncompressed audio files. BLR is free and needs significantly less data – the intial setup and all the updates have yet to cross the 10 GB mark.  It’s also a bit lighter on the machine.

Both games look good. BLR has a dark, gritty, polished underworld chic to it. Titanfall takes the cake, though – it has some some beautiful, huge environments, with scenery ranging from mountains to open landscapes to construction sites.  In terms of gameplay, both are very polished.

One of those Halo moments from Titanfall. Beautiful.
One of those Halo moments from Titanfall. Beautiful.

Titanfall feels like a little bit of everything. There’s some Call of Duty here. There’s that freedom you get in Unreal Tournament. There’s a little bit of Warsow, what will the walljumping and so on. It’s got loads of ways to kill and enjoy yourself.

BLR’s gameplay is a little more heavier and focused compared to the epic freedom of Titanfall. Most of the maps are indoor situations, so you’re necessarily in confined environments most of the time. It’s more traditional compared to the parkour of Titanfall and slightly less vertical – less of the jumping off rooftops, if you know what I mean. It’s like Quake to Titanfall’s Unreal. In fact, think Team Fortress 2 (another excellent game) and you’ll have some idea of what I’m talking about.

Titanfall priced at around 7500LKR (although it’s on sale at the moment) may not seem worth the money to those not willing to put their effort into it or simply don’t have time to game or game occasionally. Both games share similar concepts and ideas but credit should be given to Blacklight Retribution for offering the gameplay at no entry cost. In fact, BLR is epic for the price of free. Titanfall’s on the PC and Xbox One. BLR is on the PC and PS4. Yes, they compete even in that space.

Few screenshots have managed to capture the feeling of getting here. Softpedia did it.
Few screenshots have managed to capture the feeling of getting here on a Blacklight serverr. Softpedia did it.

If you have the cash to splash, consider the gameplay. Blacklight, to a large extent, is about very detailed customization and experience grind. It’s also a little more down-to-earth than the metal-heavy extravaganza of Titanfall. Which one do you prefer? Over to you. Till next time folks – keep those scopes locked.


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