This year I’ve made it somewhat of a personal mission to try and play games, that, while popular, are most definitely outside of my usual comfort zone. One of these particular genres also happens to be first person shooters (FPS). Being someone who enjoys story-driven games above all else, very few shooters have ever appealed to me outside of Spec Ops: The Line – and even then, the mechanics and gameplay of the game took a backseat to the story of ethical and moral choices. Regardless, when the opportunity to review Titanfall 2 fell in my lap, I was a little sceptical at first about playing the sequel to a game I’d never played.
While I’d been excited back in 2014 for the first Titanfall, I never ended up purchasing it. Sadly, despite a positive reception to the game, the whole thing came and went very quickly due to its one-dimensional nature. However, after covering the EA press conference at E3 this year, I started to warm to the idea of Titanfall 2 a little. Promising a single player campaign, improved multiplayer, and a full tune-up of the mechanics and gameplay, there was enough promise to Respawn’s latest effort that I decided to jump on board.
In the campaign, you play as Jack Cooper, a somewhat unremarkable Rifleman who is training to one day be a pilot. After a drop mission in the never-ending war against the Interstellar Manufacturing Corporation and the Frontier Militia goes south, your trainer and mentor Captain Lastimosa transfers control of his mech BT-7274 to you as a conditional pilot. What I love about the Titanfall 2 story is that it is clean cut, no nonsense and straight to the point. While I love storytelling as a primary feature in games, I will be the first to readily admit that there are some incredibly convoluted plots in video games, much like any other medium – and sometimes a “Point A to Point B” story such as in Titanfall 2 can serve to a work’s benefit.
While this cut and dry approach might be considered boring, it was given far richer texture by the relationship between Jack and BT. From the get-go, their relationship develops from one of mutual survival to mutual friendship and puts both a traditional and touching spin on the premise of friendship between man and machine. By the time the credits rolled, despite not necessarily being remarkable in a unique sense – the journey of Jack Cooper and BT-7274 had left an impression on me that very few relationships in games do. I was also really impressed with the marriage between Western Sci-Fi and Japanese Mecha that the game seemingly wove in, taking the best bits of both and managing to make them both pay homage to their predecessors but also put their unique perspective on the genre.
Another striking feature is how well the game handles. I appreciated all the mechanics that there are – turning what could have been a relatively generic FPS into something that incorporated core elements of puzzle solving and platforming, which broke up the flow of the game and pacing well. Weapons are also interchangeable, as well as Titan load-outs, meaning you can play the game in different ways depending on your playstyle. There’s a level of polish to Titanfall 2 that I think puts it in the same conversation as gaming TITANS (get it?!) Call of Duty and Battlefield. Respawn and EA should be incredibly proud of how they’ve accounted for themselves in this new release.
After being satisfied with the campaign mode and taking a few moments to reflect on how much I’d enjoyed myself, I limbered up and prepared myself for what I knew was coming – the multiplayer. Things were already off to a good start with server locations, with my internet speed pulling 55-60ms from the Sydney-based servers (meaning I couldn’t use lag as an excuse for why I suck). For the sake of review, I tried to play as many game modes as I could, but, unfortunately, this was not to be! Despite logging on at various times of the day, a significant portion of the available game modes were empty, such as traditional FPS mainstays “Capture the Flag” and “Free for All,” which was a little disappointing as I spent lengthy periods of time trying to figure out why I was unable to get a game.
In the end, I managed to get some time playing “Bounty Hunt” and “Attrition,” which seemed to be the two most popular types of play. Bounty Hunt was my first foray, and I was genuinely impressed to see a new game mode which I’d never played before in another FPS. The game style is broken up into “waves,” in which teams try to kill each other’s pilots and destroy Titans to collect money. At the end of the round, you’re then able to bank your money in deposit machines, and this continues until one team hits the deposit limit. I don’t mean to brag, but my team won quite handily – I was off to a good start and feeling pretty confident. Titanfall 2, you had my curiosity, but now you have my attention!
“Attrition,” on the other hand, is more of your traditional points-based scoring system when it comes to team play. By holding allocated zones on the map, each team could amass points by keeping the enemy out of the areas, and also by taking them out. At this point, I was getting pretty confident, so I was even running out of cover and gunning down enemy mechs while they fought against my teammates. Again, my team walked out with ANOTHER victory in a perfect start to my foray into Titanfall 2 multiplayer – heck, I even managed to execute my enemy in a mech battle at the end of the game when it becomes a “Pilot Elimination” to finish off the match. Needless to say, I’ve now hung up my Playstation 4 controller and retired with a perfect 2-0 record – as they say; you’ve gotta get out while the going’s good!
I really liked Titanfall 2, hell I maybe even loved it. It’s a real treat when you get to play a master crafted, well-polished title, and even BETTER when it’s one that catches you by surprise. It’s really unfortunate that the latest news seems to suggest that EA may cancel any planned sequels due to weak sales, as the game was definitely left open for one. However, it just happened to fall into the season where it would be directly competing with Battlefield 1 and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare which was just crummy timing. Ignoring rumours and news, though, when you cut down to the core of it, Titanfall 2 is a great game with a lot of really great content going for it – with even more to come, and free for all future DLC! Titanfall 2 is a game done right, and for all the flack EA may have been the subject of in the past, they’ve done a great job here with Respawn’s efforts. Thanks for making a fan out of me guys, I truly appreciate it.