Standby for Titanfall … again!
With the release of Titanfall 2, this time on multiple platforms (previously an Xbox One exclusive), Respawn set out to address all the issues fans had with the first title. As a result, this highly-anticipated sequel adds a beefy single-player campaign (unlike the embarrassing excuse of for a “campaign” included in the first game) to supplement the robust competitive online offering that now features even more customization options. Is this retooling enough to get you back into the cockpit?
As mentioned above, there’s now a single-player campaign that can be completed in roughly six hours. In this standard length FPS campaign, you’ll take on the role of Jack Cooper, a low-level rifleman who dreams of becoming a Titan pilot. Who you’re fighting and why it’s important is confusing, and it boils down to a fairly generic “take down the bad guys who want to destroy the world” tale. It makes more sense if you paid attention to the “campaign” from the first game (which was really just multiplayer matches with some voice over telling you some random story about the conflict), but you’re out of luck otherwise. Just know there are some bad dudes, doing some bad things, that you must defeat. Fortunately, that doesn’t mean there isn’t fun to be had here.
The game does an excellent job of highlighting the importance and power of a pilot when combined with his mechanical Titan partner via some early cut scenes, and even emphasizes the connection between the two. This leads to some touching moments with your mech, BT-7274, that’ll pull at your robot-loving heart strings. The banter between the two leading roles is quirky, charming, and will have you rooting for both of them to succeed. BT really does steal the show with his witty remarks and habit of taking everything literally. By the end of the game, you’ll be wanting your very own BT.
Ignoring some of the narrative issues, the gameplay is still top-notch. Movement is the best in any first-person shooter, as you’ll be running on walls, double-jumping onto platforms, and even sliding around while you take down some unprepared goons. The best moments come when you must think on your feet and utilize all these abilities quickly. Because the movement and wall-running work so well, there are a good amount of platforming moments to change the pace of your standard shooting gallery. And some of the environments you explore are fantastic–one of the missions has you jumping between flying ships, and I can’t overemphasize just how much fun it was. Typically, the campaign is broken down into missions where you’re running around on your feet to moments where you must pilot BT. Mixing theses moments keeps you on your toes.
But what really had me smiling during the campaign were the Titan boss fights, during which you have to take down another pilot and his/her mech. These baddies are mean and highly skilled, making for a fun time pushing your Titan-combat attributes to the limit. The scenarios vary as well; once I was taking down a baddie who could fly, while another time I was fighting one that could completely disappear. There’s one boss, Ash, who is a creepy robot whose Titan uses a sword to slice into BT like a samurai. Dashing around trying to avoid massive gashes while trying unleash BT’s very own arsenal is a rush that is rarely matched in other shooters.
Now onto the multiplayer. One of my biggest complaints about the first Titanfall was its lack of customization and progression, and Respawn seems to have listened. Now you can completely customize your pilot, Titan, and weapons in ways that were not possible in the original. Pilots have a choice between seven abilities that range from a grapple that’ll allow you to attach to buildings and Titans (it’s so much fun!) so you can swing around like Spider-Man, to a Pulse Blade that can be lethal as well as tactical since it detects enemies. There are also six different Titans you can choose from, each utilizing different skills–like Ronin who is supposed to be like a samurai bot that gets up close and personal to deal damage.
It’s hard to complain about customization with so many options at your disposal, however, be warned that this change doesn’t vastly alter the feel of multiplayer. That’s not bad considering how spectacular the first game is, but it’s important to note this for Xbox One users who’ve already invested hundreds of hours into the original. That aside, the mobility from the first game and the campaign make a smooth transition into Titanfall 2′s multiplayer. It feels so good running around the carefully crafted multiplayer maps that are built with the pilots wall-running abilities in mind.
Titans also work well in all of the maps, but now there’s a different dynamic in the pilot vs. Titan battles. Hopping onto an enemy Titan will let you rip a giant green battery out of their back, damaging them in the process. Jumping on them again will have your character dropping a grenade into the empty battery hole. Repeat until the mech is down (or use your anti-Titan weapons if you don’t want to rodeo). I found that this made it easier for pilots to go against these giants without being at a huge disadvantage. Plus the Titan shields don’t regenerate, so they will fall much quicker.
All of this is to say that the multiplayer is still spectacular. It’s still a total blast, and pretty unique in the shooter landscape. But hearing “Prepare for Titanfall” isn’t as magical as it was the first time around, but that’s not the game’s fault.
Titanfall 2 is the full package. Despite the campaign’s shortcomings, it’s still a fun six hour experience that was sorely lacking in the original title. The multiplayer is more of the same with added customization, but why fix what isn’t broken? Because it’s a sequel, it no longer feels mind-blowing when you call in a Titan, but that doesn’t mean it’s not damn fun. Most importantly, it still includes the best mobility of any first-person shooter ever. Now there’s a real battle between the best first-person shooter on the market between this, Battlefield 1, and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare (depending on its quality). PS4-only gamers should definitely nab a copy.
RATING: 4.5 OUT OF 5 Titanic Burritos
This review was completed using a retail Xbox One copy of Titanfall 2 purchased by reviewer. The game hit shelves on October 28, 2016 for the PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4.