As a reformed robot, I feel a certain obligation — a call of duty, if you will — to tell you about my recent subroutine reboot. Via an extended weekend of video gaming, I lubricated the mechanized side of me, the intellectual who found more in common with Lt. Commander Data of Star Trek: The Next Generation than with my peers.
Friends think I play Xbox every day, but having two children younger than six means I spend my free time convincing my daughter to eat or tearing the house apart to find my son’s shoes, and when both kids are abed, I hang with the wife, finish up housework, or limp off to bed myself. Reality equals my booting up a video game every couple of weeks, so the rare gift of a weekend at my in-laws means while Grandma’s soaking up her grandkids, I’m soaking up digitized delight.
Some say a woman marries her father, and in my wife’s case, it’s true. Jerry’s a retired chemist; I’m a science teacher. We each own a slew of humorous t-shirts, but the only reason he’s seen more zombie movies and read more sci-fi novels than I is because he’s lived longer. Video games? They’re his full-time job.
When Jerry bought a bigger, better LCD-TV, instead of selling the old rear-projection television or moving it to a different room, he slid it four feet to the right. Now, as he’s earning his daily achievement in Halo: Reach, my mother-in-law reaches over to pat his leg while watching the Weather Channel. When we visit, I pack my Xbox One along with an overnight bag, enabling guaranteed gaming in the midst of the love maelstrom as Maggie travels from one new discovery to another with her grandmother, Asher redistributes the tiny container collection and the toy tribble, Jerry takes care of breakfast then consumes the daily paper, and my wife catches up with her parents. I visit as well, play with the kids, and walk with Jerry, but for the majority of the time, a controller nestles in my palms.
That’s how I took advantage of the Titanfall Beta. For the uninitiated, Titanfall is a military shooter in the vein of Battlefield, Call of Duty, or Halo where you fill the combat boots of a tough-as-nails soldier facing overwhelming odds. Instead of running around the map, ducking into buildings, and climbing stairs to gain the high ground, with Titanfall you can run along the sides of buildings and jump-jet your way onto second story roofs to rain fire from above; also there’s Titans. Instead of jumping into a tank or a jet when you tire of trading potshots along narrow corridors, you can call down a large, mechanized robotic suit from low orbit to reach objectives faster and squish any foot soldiers foolish enough to get in your way. In short, it’s a zombie movie-watching, sci-fi novel-reading, humorous t-shirt-wearing, science teacher’s dream game. I played and played and played and played.
Keep in mind, this was the beta version. Don’t rush out to your local Wal-Mart to find the game unstocked. Respawn Entertainment made a stripped-down version available to the public to test servers and flex muscles. They’ll release the full version on March 11th for Xbox One and PC with another iteration for the Xbox 360 sometime in June. Keep in mind, I only gain intangible rewards from this blog post: a happy man telling others why I’ve got such a big smile on my face.
Thanks to my wife who wants to see Guardians of the Galaxy together — she gets me; thanks to her parents for their hospitality and for enjoying our company almost as much as they enjoy their grandkids; and thanks to Vince Zampella who built Respawn Entertainment from the ground up to create the next summit of video game ascension. My circuits hum in anticipation.