Titanfall doesn't want to be just another entry in an endless row of shooters. That much is clear from the behind closed doors presentation that we get for the game at Gamescom. Before we can embark on the demo, we must first go through a relatively long presentation video that explains both the Titan robots, weapons selection, double jump and wall-runs, mobility and much more.
While it may be that Titanfall is steered by some of the driving forces behind the Call of Duty series, for example the pace is reminiscent of the CoD juggernaut, the game also breaks the tried and tested formula in several ways.
There are, of course, huge great Titans; battle robots that all players have available. You don't get them from the start, instead they run on a timer, so you have access to a Titan approximately every two minutes. You can either call them down and jump on board, or spawn in them if you are dead.
Such large and heavily armed robots can of course create great havoc on the battlefield, but as a regular grunt you'll have plenty to withstand them. In addition to each of the three classes we have to choose from today, we have a weapon specifically designed to defeat our mechanised enemies. The grunts also have a mobility that few other games can match.
The familiar looking double jump is here and leads to a hop straight up to some first floor windows, up on roofs, from building to building and across roads. Then you can run along vertical surfaces and jump back and forth between the house walls. The developers proudly say that maps have been carefully designed so that you can move from one end to the other without ever touching the ground.
But most important of all perhaps is trying to gather the virtues of both multiplayer and single-player games on one disc. This means story and computer-controlled companions and opponents are on hand to give more context and mood, so it doesn't just feel like 10 guys running around shooting each other.
In today's mission one team must create a diversion, while a group of allies try to sneak a kidnapped pilot away. The other team represents the state power, and of course must prevent that from happening.
And it is probably here that Titanfall lost me. Even though the mission begins with a small sequence showing the kidnapped pilot being lowered into a shaft and two soldiers jumping after him and closing the way behind, and even if the voices on the radio keep stressing the importance of the diversion you're trying to create so he can get away, in practice we're just talking about team deathmatch with some AI-controlled soldiers thrown in to spice up the experience a little.
I do not know if it's because my teammates just stunk (I topped our scoreboard in both of the rounds we played), but we got battered in both of the matches we played, with the final score something like 100-300 in the opponent's favour. After just a few minutes we were falling well behind, and there were no clear indication of what you could do to win, or even what the overall purpose was.
This is not improved by the fact that there are not many visual hints as to which of the enemies are real players and which are controlled by the AI. With the latter only giving 25 points when you shoot them, while the human players giving 500, it goes without saying who you would rather take down.
So yes, I'm pretty underwhelmed right now. The extra mobility is interesting because you can rapidly gain height advantages on your enemy, but right now I find it hard to see where all the hype is coming from, because everything I've seen of Titanfall so far is similar to ordinary team deathmatch, just with a few gimmicks added in. It's certainly not the revolution we were hoping for.