I have to admit, I didn’t know what to expect from Respawn’s Titanfall 2. I’m a newcomer to the franchise, being a PS4 console owner, and only slightly wary of the fact that the original game suffered from a distinct lack of campaign. This time around we get a full story alongside the various multiplayer modes and a strong promise from Respawn that all future maps, expansions and DLC will be free to owners of the game.
So for those not in the know, what is Titanfall 2?
Well, it’s a first-person sci-fi shooter wherein you take control of Jack Cooper, a Rifleman from the Frontier Militia forced to act as a Pilot for a hulking Titan mech, call sign BT-7274 (or BT to his friends) after Cooper’s mentor and BT’s original Pilot is killed in action fighting enemies from the Interstellar Manufacturing Corporation and their employed mercenary group, Apex Predator.
Titans are artificially intelligent mechanised exosuits, with great emphasis put on the relationship between Titan and Pilot and throughout the campaign Copper and BT work together to defeat their enemies on the planet Typhon, while uncovering a plot to destroy the planet Harmony, home of the Milita.
What ensues is a fast-paced action adventure with jaw dropping visuals that had me glued to the controller so hard I nailed the entire campaign in one sitting, Now, for me, this was a little over 7 hours and some might say that’s too short for them, but this is a wild, adrenaline fueled ride my friends.
From the initial and somewhat traditional training run, where you learn to control your jumps, slides and signature wall-runs (that the Call Of Duty franchise quickly latched onto after the first Titanfall) to powering BT back up and climbing inside is a refreshingly swift transition. Then the fun really begins as BT informs Cooper that they have a Special Operations mission to finish.
What follows is 9 stages of exploration and combat, evenly split between on foot as acting Pilot Cooper or ensconced in BT’s mech body, culminating with a showdown against one of the mercenary members of Apex Predator every time. Yes it’s linear, but the arena style areas allow it to feel more open world, and less on rails as something like, sorry to bring them up again, the Call Of Duty games.
Power-ups are gradually introduced for both Pilot and Titan and my initial clumsy attempts at transitioning between vertical walls using double-jumps, wall-runs and ziplines were rapidly surpassed as I became used to the fast paced movement, to the point in the mid-late game where I regularly found myself utilising 3D game space to attack from as many angles as I could – stealth killing an unsuspecting IMC grunt, going invisible, wall running around said grunts heavily armored pals only to drop down and take those out by sliding between them.
It was all so much fun!
My only criticism is that the final ‘boss’ battle felt a little anticlimactic – especially when the game implies you’ll be facing another opponent, only to have that pulled from under you with a single line of dialogue.
I’ve been a long time player of the CoD franchise, but I think we can all admit it’s become a little staid over its past couple of outings. Titanfall 2 has not only invigorated my interest in the FPS genre, it’s actively made me want to start playing online multiplayer again, because as much as the campaign is great, with regards to visuals, exploration, plot, mechanics and level design, the various multiplayer modes are pure unadulterated joy.
“Rodeoing” an enemy Titan to steal its power cell, before fleeing across an arena as you send a grapple line zipping off into the distance only to cut through the maze of buildings and corridors as an agile Pilot to again harass the giant Titans is Fun, with a capital ‘F’.
Respawn should genuinely be lauded here: not only have they brought excitement and joy back to what was beginning to feel like a very tired genre, they’ve also delivered a solid story at the same time. There was so many moments in-game, either playing the campaign or multiplayer that I actually smiled, and for a Triple A developer to do that to a jaded husk like me is surely commendable.