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Sore Thumbs

3/19/2014

titanfall1‘TITANFALL’    (M)

****1/2

Electronic Arts

Xbox One

“Titanfall” — the much anticipated, exclusively multiplayer, first-person shooter for our newest generation of consoles — splits your time between combat on foot and combat in the snug womb of a massive mech suit, capable of untold destruction. But this game doesn’t coast on the predictably awesome feeling of wielding your very own bipedal tank. It makes all the running and gunning you do in between equally thrilling. What foot soldiers lack in robotic might, they make up for with unprecedented mobility. You can run up and across walls, double jump into second story windows or zip-line over half the battlefield. Bold players can even clamber onto the backs of the titular Titans to exploit weaknesses in their armor. All of this ensures that “Titanfall” maintains a consistently kinetic pace. Even without the occasional opportunities to pilot mechs, this would be a top-notch shooter. But when those opportunities finally avail themselves, they take the gameplay to a whole other level.

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Once you’re in the cockpit, most of your competitors will only be a hair trigger away from having to re-spawn. Although your artillery is understandably overpowered, your mobility is greatly reduced, giving the ground forces a fighting chance. If you do wind up with a pesky mortal on your back, your suit comes equipped with a number of countermeasures, including an electrified smoke that functions like bug spray. This ensures that your Titan will last long enough to encounter an evenly matched opponent. And when two of these mechanical monstrosities go head to head, it’s non-stop fireworks. As incredible as the action is, it doesn’t prevent the overall package from feeling a bit barebones. There’s no single-player campaign, and the customization options are unusually limited (although developer Respawn Entertainment has pledged to eventually remedy this with a free update). In the meantime, “Titanfall” remains an exceptional playground for multiplayer carnage and an exciting new IP to kick-start this fledgling console generation.

 

gardenbox‘PLANTS VS ZOMBIES: GARDEN WARFARE’    (E10+)

***1/2

Electronic Arts

Xbox One

Most first-person shooters feature humorless, battle-hardened soldiers blasting away at each other over grim, post-apocalyptic battlefields, so the goofy, ongoing struggle between vegetables and the undead is a refreshing change of pace. The Plants vs. Zombies formula has been successfully grafted onto (or planted into) a standard multiplayer shooter, with all the varied character classes to which you’ve grown accustomed (but in the guise of sunflowers and deceased football players). This game certainly doesn’t reinvent the genre, but it does lend it a quirky sense of humor.

 

castlevaniabox‘CASTLEVANIA: LORDS OF SHADOW 2’    (M)

**1/2

Konami

Xbox 360

The long-awaited sequel to the best “3D Castlevania” game includes an open world to explore. Unfortunately it’s our modern world and isn’t nearly as interesting as the game’s traditionally gothic environments. The original Lords of Shadow had a neat twist in that Gabriel Belmont ultimately embraced his inner Dracula. So it’s disappointing that his newfound supernatural abilities and bloodlust merely reduce him into a second-rate Kratos from God of War — a far better game in which to get your fix of hacking and slashing. CV

Matthew Scott Hunter studied video games extensively while attending the University of Nevada Reno and Vancouver Film School (despite the fact that video games were not part of either school’s curriculum). He has been writing Sore Thumbs since 2004.

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