Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Titanfall 2 is the kind of game that is very hard for fans of fast-paced shooters to put down. I was a fan of the original game, but kudos to Respawn Entertainment for taking a good formula and improving upon it in almost every meaningful way.
There were a lot of complaints about the original Titanfall, and frankly I did not buy into most of them. However, the one I had to agree with was the lack of a single player campaign. For all of the talk about how fans of shooters only play the genre for competitive online multiplayer (one of my best friends falls firmly into this category, as he hasn’t completed a campaign mode in a shooter in years, but buys Call of Duty each and every fall), there are plenty of people such as myself who really enjoy single player campaigns – when they are done right.
Rest assured, but Titanfall 2 definitely does this right, delivering one of the best single player campaigns I have played in a long time. Not just because of the story, which is nothing earth-shatteringly new by any means, but still entertaining. No, what Titalfall 2 does so well is leverage its outstandingly smooth movement system into something that makes levels something to be explored in every direction – including and especially vertically. There are some serious platforming moments as you master running along walls and double jumping across chasms. Some of the later stages have you darting above and below electrified walls or moving parts of the environment around to create wall running opportunities. This is far more than move from point A to point B mowing down all of the AI characters in between, and the experience is far better for it.
There are elements of puzzle solving as you use an Arc Gun to enable doorways or disable high powered fans that can mess up your jumps. Use the same gun to charge nearby sentinel robots in standby mode and active them for your cause. There is one level in particular that stands out like few others as your character gets the ability to jump back and forth through time. In one time frame a room might be littered with enemies so you poof into existence to take them on and then zap back to your prior time to catch your breath. In other instances doors might not be working or windows might no longer exist, again adding a layer of problem-solving to the mix. Those wall running-double jumps I mentioned earlier? Now try to vault from one to the other while zapping back and forth between periods of time so they are available to come into contact with.
The levels are expertly crafted with outstanding presentation values both in terms of the visuals and the audio. Music soars when it needs to while subtly carrying on during quieter scenes. Meanwhile there is a lot of quality voice acting here to enjoy. If it were longer, the campaign alone would almost be worth the price of admission in and of itself for me, though it does punch in around five hours. Not short by FPS campaign mode standards, but there is not much replay value to be had once you are done. However, having played through that and used it as the gussied up tutorial that it was, I then felt properly equipped to take on the multiplayer mode, which is where people will no doubt be spending the bulk of their gameplay time.
The multiplayer is everything you would expect from a studio of Respawn Entertainment’s pedigree, and that is to say there are lots of modes and almost all of them are a great deal of fun. I came back time and time again, but that is because the core mechanics of combat work so well with one another. There is a large variety of weapons and they each of course have their own strengths and weaknesses from assault rifles to energy weapons to shotguns and more. Wall running and shooting are tweaked fantastically, but you have plenty of options to adjust the controls to your style of preference. While my usual MO in shooters is to play ranged classes that fare better in boots-on-the-ground combat, Titanfall 2 helps me to move past that with its responsive controls.
Of course, the main thing that separates Titanfall from other games is the ability to call down massive mechanized titans that have plenty of their own variety to choose from. If you want to occupy your titan you have a handful of different attacks and powerful Core attacks to choose from (I rather enjoy the Ronin loadout with massive, electrified swords that make me get in close and personal). The titans all have their various tells that add a layer of strategy to the combat with them. You replace frantic, high-flying soldier combat with slower, deadlier battling that makes you think a little bit more.
It helps that the maps are better designed this time around. They are a little bit larger, and make better use of the game’s more vertical elements as well. The end result is more room to snipe if that is your style (some of the modes practically beg for some level of camping) but even if you are constantly running with guns blazing, I appreciated having a little more space to breathe. This when combined with more loadout options helps to provide greater variety and pacing than the original game offered.
There are three big shooters that all released around the same time with Battlefield, Call of Duty and this latest Titanfall game. Hands-down Titanfall 2 has been my favorite of the three, which honestly surprised me as I really like large scale maps and boots-on-the-ground gameplay provided by Battlefield 1, which is a close second. However, there are fast and slower paced types of shooters, and Titanfall is superior to this year’s Call of Duty in just about every way. If you prefer a slower style of play, Battlefield 1 is probably the way to go. If you prefer gravity defying double jumps and twitch gameplay? Skip Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and call down some titans.
Titanfall 2 does exactly what you would hope it would, by offering improvement in almost every aspect of the game. The presentation is top-notch, the campaign mode is cleverly done and the multiplayer finds better pacing with more options that should keep the community engaged for some time to come.Score: 8.5 / 10