EA and Respawn Entertainment's 'Titanfall' is meant to improve the sales of the maligning Xbox One, but how does it fair when finally played?

REVIEW: Respawn's 'Titanfall' Is Evolutionary, But Has Room For Improvement

Respawn and EA's Titanfall is a competitively challenging game that creates a fun experience for FPS fans. But will the game help the Xbox One console to fly off the shelves?!

Titles such as Call of Duty and Halo have seemingly exhausted first-person shooter fans for years, leaving Respawn's new bit of multiplayer mayhem to add new life to the genre. Titanfall has been lauded by pundits and critics for its next step in the evolution of FPS, and its potential as an Xbox One franchise player. For those unfamiliar with the game, players step front-and-center as a pilot who fights on a war-torn planet utilizing mech-style Titans in online multiplayer-only matches. Early on, Respawn described the game as "bringing scale, verticality, and story" to the first-person shooter multiplayer genre, which some would argue has been missing from the competitive FPS world since the days of Quake and Doom.

As a pilot, you're able to use speed and mobility to engage in unique firefights. Respawn has placed an emphasis on unlimited sprinting, a jetpack for double jumps, edge grabbing and wall running to create a parkour feel. These abilities allow players to comb through every map landmark on foot, while keeping gameplay completely enveloped around the player. After playing the game for six hours prior to launch, we were happy with the level design, the smooth and fluid controls, and the excitement delivered by the enormous Titans dropping from the sky made Titanfall an exceptionally arresting FPS. The originality comes from Vince Zampella and Jason West, two ex-communicated Infinity Ward head honchos, who wanted to give "new life" to the critically acclaimed arena-based combat they implemented in the development of Call of Duty. The result of their handiwork is a title that increases the gameplay speed in a six-against-six competition that is powered by Microsoft cloud-based servers.

There's the understanding that a lot of pressure is on the staff for this title to succeed. As the Xbox One's first big game release since its launch last November, Titanfall is pegged as the game to ramp up console sales to catch up to (and surpass) frontrunner PlayStation 4 in worldwide gross. As an "online only" title, Titanfall improves on the concepts set by its predecessors, making it one of the most refined multiplayer experiences ever, but it also comes up short in the mythology / story department. The characters featured throughout the campaign mode basically serve as brief introducers of cutscenes that set the stage for the matches with no compelling lore. This leaves the two playable factions — the Interstellar Manufacturing Corporation (IFC) and the Frontier Militia — lacking an iconic hero / villain archetype to get behind, use and control throughout the game.

And in the game, you're always the pilot. In the kill-or-be-killed world of Titanfall, players must be certified through a training program that serves as a tutorial, but the jury is still out on whether or not the learning curve is drastically different than previous FPS iterations. The game's beautiful level designs allows players to turn nearly every surface into a potential route of attack or retreat. Each map's battleground serves as a parkour fiend's dream, and it is purely exhilarating to run-jump-wallrun-and-leap onto the shoulder of a Titan. The balance of the game is so tight that players never feel like they're at a disadvantage, even when confronting the behemoth Titans on foot. The hacking ability allows players to target the giant-mechs and pounce like a big-game hunter. Equally impressive is the ability to send your Titan out into the world on its own, while players stealthily traverse the map to flank enemies, use their Titan as a decoy, or ambush someone else's Titan.

The diverse selection of weapons, attachments and other items are also a plus, as they allow players to customize their pilots and Titans to their unique style of play. Being able to carry more explosives, run faster than normal or even use a cloaking device to turn invisible make creating tactics a plus and the game should be rewarded for such feats. With no single-player campaign (or story mode) in Titanfall, each match creates a loose framework that is pieced together in a sequential order. Matches such as Attrition finds players not only battling enemies controlled by other players, but NPC-controlled "Grunts" and "Spectres". Other match types include Last Titan Standing (round-based with no respawns), Pilot Hunter (team with most kills wins), Hardpoint (capture and hold points on a map), and the traditional Capture The Flag mode.

Titanfall is not yet a Call Of Duty killer and players should not expect it to be so. This is a no-frills type of game, where you essentially are playing through eight multiplayer matches with minute-long cutscenes added in. The characters like Graves, Bish or MacAllan aren't wholly instrumental to the plot, as the story is already predetermined no matter which side — the IMC or the Militia — wins. This is a huge disappointment for gamers, but the foundation of Titanfall should allow Respawn to add new mechs, new weapons and maps later on. The ability to create a narrative once the hype of the six-against-six online matches dissipate is something we also hope comes to fruition sooner than later.

Overall, Respawn and EA have created an engaging game where players will forego the lack of story, in favor of being able to run-and-gun with the big dogs. Despite the latter's history with online games, Titanfall's precursor to launch ran well with little-to-no lag time at all. With the advent of Twitch, players are able to livestream their gameplay, but from our experience this is an issue that concludes with the game crashing while streaming. Respawn pulls off the difficult feat of finally giving Xbox One fans a game to play that feels as unique as the console they're hoping to propel into blockbuster status.

This is an evolutionary step for all parties involved, our hope is that Respawn adds more elements to increase the replay value of the game.

Don't believe us? Well, take a look at the trailer below:

Titanfall is available exclusively for the Xbox One and is in stores now.

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Chris Rock, Megan Thee Stallion Sign On For ‘SNL’ Season Premiere

Chris Rock is returning to Saturday Night Live as host of the upcoming 46th season. The 55-year-old comedian will helm the season premiere next week with Meghan Thee Stallion as the musical guest, NBC announced on Thursday (Sept. 24).

Airing on Oct. 3, the season premiere marks SNL’s return to its headquarters at Rockefeller Center since March. The long-running sketch comedy show went virtual last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The show will also be Megan’s first time performing solo on the SNL stage (she previously made a guest appearance with Chance the Rapper last November).

October. [email protected] @theestallion pic.twitter.com/J8KUYWngaL

— Saturday Night Live - SNL (@nbcsnl) September 24, 2020

Rock, who has hosted the SNL three times, was a cast member from 1990 until 1993. After SNL, Rock joined the cast of In Living Color, and embarked on a successful career in stand-up comedy.

But he's not  the only In Living Color alum heading back to SNL this season. Jim Carrey has signed on to play former Vice President and presidential hopeful, Joe Biden, on the show.

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‘Antebellum’ Star Janelle Monáe: ‘This World Owes Black Women So Much’

For us Black folk, the fight for social justice in America continues to be a long and arduous fight. Since the day our African ancestors set foot on this land, we’ve endured the chains and whips of systemic oppression and marched arm in arm for our civil and economic rights. Along the way, we’ve witnessed the senseless killing of our Black brothers and sisters at the hands of police brutality and white supremacy.

Let’s face it. Today, 400 odd years later and in the midst of an anxiety-inducing pandemic, being Black in America is still exhausting. Our Black brothers can’t go for an afternoon jog without running into the armed, confrontational, and self-appointed neighborhood watch. Or question their arrest before being handcuffed and forced to lie face-down, while gasping for air under the pressure of a police officer’s knee on their neck. The most disheartening of all is that our Black sisters can’t rest peacefully in their beds without trigger-happy police officers raiding their homes with a fatal shower of bullets.

The gut-punch of it all? Justice for Black bodies is far and in between. And the group less likely to see any form of justice? Black women. The women who’ve carried and birthed nations. The women who’ve fearlessly aided and led historic uprisings while fighting on the front lines to spark social change. In the upsetting case of Breonna Taylor, one of the officers responsible for her death has been indicted on “three counts of wanton endangerment” for endangering the lives of those in a neighboring apartment.

One activist who has been vocal about the lives of Black people in America is eight-time Grammy award-nominated artist Janelle Monáe.

“I feel like this world owes Black women so much. At the very least, it owes us peace...I have to actively fight for my own peace,” shared the actress in a recent sit-down with VIBE correspondent Jazzie Belle. “It's tough, especially when you see your brothers and sisters, that look like you being murdered and killed, all you can really feel is rage. And when that festers in you, it's hard to shake it. It's hard for me to unwatch the videos I watched of Sandra Bland, of Trayvon Martin, of Jacob Blake, thinking about Breonna Taylor, it's difficult. So, you have to actively fight. I have to actively fight for my own peace.”

In the newly released thriller Antebellum, Monáe plays Veronica Henley, a best-selling author and outspoken sociologist. After speaking on the marginalization of Black people in America at an event in New Orleans, Veronica wakes up as Eden, an enslaved woman working on a Louisiana plantation in a Civil War era. As Veronica experiences the past life of slavery, she (Eden) finds her strength and voice to plan and lead fellow slaves to freedom. Even if she fails over and over again.

“I used to say, ‘Black women are superheroes.’ That's not what I say at all. It's not our job to be superhuman. It's not our job to clean up systemic racism or dismantle them,” pointed out Monáe.

“This film [Antebellum] is a look at what it is like for a Black woman to carry the burden of dismantling and deconstructing white supremacy every single day. We persevere through it. We are triumphant, but we shouldn't have to carry that emotional labor and that heaviness every single day.”

This same weight of responsibility can be seen in today’s oftentimes women-led social movements and calls to action in the streets of America. You can see how it’s cinematically embedded as a theme in the twisted Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz co-directed film. But there’s one thing that must take precedence during any physically and mentally demanding mission for change: rest. And those of us protesting for equality should have loved ones around to serve as a reminder of joy and lightheartedness. For self-care is an underrated superpower.

“I think that it's important to surround yourself around people that if you are doing heavy lifting, if you're out there on the front line, if you’re just having a difficult time, [you can] go watch some comedy films,” encouraged Monáe. “Just be around people that make you laugh. That's really important. I think laughter is something that we can do a lot more of together.”

Watch the full interview with Janelle Monáe above. Also, catch our chat with Antebellum's co-directors Bush and Renz where they talk about how one nightmare inspired the film’s premise.

Antebellum, co-starring Gabourey Sidibe, Kiersey Clemons, and more, is available now on premium video-on-demand platforms.

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The Game Reboot Lands At Paramount+ Streaming Service

A revival of the BET’s The Game is officially in development under the ViacomCBS digital subscription streaming service Paramount+, which was originally branded as CBS All Access.

The series reboot was announced on Tuesday (Sept. 15), along with a list of original and rebooted shows headed for the streaming outlet which includes a limited series chronicling the making of The Godfather, a new edition of VH1’s Behind the Music, and the true crime docuseries, The Real Criminal Minds. The programming will join CBS All Access’ list of more than 20,000 episodes and movies across BET, MTV, CBS, Comedy Central, Paramount Pictures, Nickelodeon, and more.

Although no details have been released about The Game revival, the series will fall under BET’s Paramount+ programming from CBS Television Studios and Garment Productions. It’s unclear if any of the show's original cast members like, Tia Mowry, Pooch Hall, and Wendy Raquel Robinson, will be involved in the new installment.

The hit sports series was created by Mara Brock Akil, as a spinoff of her other hit sitcom, Girlfriends. Akil recently inked an overall deal with Netflix to develop new projects for the streamer. The company also acquired the rights to Girlfriends, Sister, Sister, Moesha, and The Parkers.

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