Finally, the last of the big four shooters this fall after Infinite Warfare, Battlefield One and Modern Warfare Remastered we come to Titanfall 2. A game, that manages to surprise and delight through all of its campaign, yet will be forgotten because of the mistakes of its predecessor.
To give you some idea how close I came to not reviewing this it was a last minute purchase with birthday money. I can thoroughly recommend this excellent game but I feel the damage has been done. The original Titanfall was a game I queued for hours to see at that year’s Gamescom. Jaded with repeated sequels of Call of Duty and unwilling to brave the eight-hour queue for that year’s Battlefield. Titanfall was a complete breath of fresh air. The snappiness of the shooting coupled with the brilliant movement through the arena really set it apart at the time. Leaving my twenty-minute session, I had no doubt that this would be the game to topple Call Of Duty. Unfortunately many factors stopped this happening.
Firstly there was no single player campaign. Although some games can survive without this, a single player campaign in a first person shooter can elevate a very good game to one of legendary status. See any decent Halo and the yardstick Modern Warfare. By leaving this out Titanfall one always felt like a half completed or cobbled together experience. Then there was the lengthy and extended beta which allowed players around a week of play in the multiplayer. Usually, this would be a good thing as it would allow people to get excited about the game or convince people on the fence that it was worth getting. In Titanfall’s case, it was like a movie trailer that spoiled all the best bits. If you played for a week in the beta, there was no need to come back to the full game. Lastly by being an XBOXONE exclusive, it picked the console horse that was lagging behind at the time. It didn’t sell consoles and it left a sour taste in many people’s mouths.
Enter Titanfall 2 and in particular the single player campaign. This is the best single player campaign since Modern Warfare. It easily wipes the floor with the other two excellent campaigns in Battlefield One and Infinite Warfare by being interesting, innovative and fun to play. When you think of the mechanics of the Titans and pilots, I actually wondered how you would make a cohesive single player game. The answer is to boil a whole war and conflict down to one person and the small effect they can have. In my opinion, this plays very much like the epic campaign from Halo Reach. You manage to get yourself into many scrapes, but they seem personal and individual to you. It is only at the resolution of things that you see how important your actions were.
Where Halo as the super soldier Spartans, Titanfall has the pilots. While it is never properly explained why they are better than common grunts pilots have the ability to traverse the environment like some kind of space ninjas. They hit harder and have special abilities given by their equipment. Most importantly they have a link to their Titans, that allows them to be a lethal fighting force either by their side or in control of their cockpit. Without spoiling anything the majority of the campaign sees you and your Titan being separated and having to navigate various paths through levels before meeting up again and wreaking havoc on the enemy or fighting a boss battle against an enemy in their Titan. It is a simple formula, that keeps things interesting and allows plenty of freedom. If you had been stuck in the Titan for the whole game you would have felt both overpowered and got bored quickly. By limiting your time in the behemoth and making it feel particularly vulnerable when you are in it the game it plays very much like a traditional shooter campaign which is exactly what it needed to do.
Because the game plays traditionally the level design is where the game is allowed to be innovative and this is what sets Titanfall apart from its peers. The levels all feature a great degree of verticality meaning you spend as much time navigating your way to the top as you do going from point a to b. Halfway through the game, another aspect is thrown in for a memorable sequence involving time travel that harkened back to the underrated shooter Singularity. The gunplay itself is very visceral and you can actually feel the bullets thudding into the enemy grunts. At around 6 hours it isn’t the longest but there is scope for replay in the collectables. Each level has around 4 pilot’s helmets to collect. They can literally be anywhere. You see them distinguished by a bright blue glow but most times you will be scratching your head as how to get to them. Most involve a few wall runs and plenty of leaps of faith.
On the multiplayer side, things have remained much as they were. The whole game is a lot tighter but unfortunately the same problems that hampered the first game remain. At first, I thought I was a natural a Titanfall but after asking everyone, nobody would admit to having a bad game. It almost feels like you have to leave the controller sitting to be last in the round. This may come from many hours on COD, but Titanfall multiplayer is just too comfortable a place to play to be really competitive. There is nothing at all wrong with it and it can throw up many great moments. It’s just that the hook that defines a great multiplayer game isn’t there. You will never make the same kind of friends and enemies that you do in other games as there are too many equalisers. If someone is constantly killing you one on one you simply need to wait until your Titan spawns to get revenge. Even If their Titan comes down at the same time it is very rare that anyone can dominate a round. This may sound like a dream to some people but if you are instantly competitive and there is no scope for getting much better the longevity suffers. Such were the faults of the first game. Unfortunately, Titanfall 2 falls into the same trap as the first. The multiplayer is simply too nerfed to be a true e-sport. The checks and balances stop it being one of the greats and until this changes the franchise will remain behind the market leaders.
Despite the faults, this is an easy recommendation for one of the best campaigns in years.
You can get it now at Titanfall 2 (Xbox One)