All The Small Things

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HIGH ‘Survive’.

LOW Coliseum mode is pretty awful.

WTF People are camping? In Titanfall?


 

Robot sidekicks are the best. Whether it’s Cain from Binary Domain or Loader Bot from Tales from the Borderlands, their unflinching loyalty and shiny metal exteriors make them the perfect partners for bloodthirsty murder sprees. When things get tough, they simply extend a buzzsaw out of their foreheads (or whatever) and start eviscerating everybody in sight! They’re perfect!

Such is the case with Titanfall 2‘s swanky new campaign, where boring, fleshy human Jack Cooper is linked up to awesome gigantic robo-buddy BT-7274 after an unfortunate encounter leaves BT’s old pilot dead and the two of them stranded on an enemy planet. Not much else to do but team up and go murder every enemy in sight, right?

While single-player campaigns aren’t unusual in first-person shooters, this one is a series first for the franchise. The original Titanfall skipped traditional singleplayer in favor of mixing its narrative into the multiplayer (something which worked extremely well as far as I’m concerned) but that wasn’t enough for Respawn this time out. As a result, they’ve crafted one of the most interesting and consistently enjoyable campaigns in memory.

It’s impossible to go into detail about why the campaign’s so great without spoilers, however. While it starts conventionally – dull, even – it soon branches out and evolves into something far more complex, diverse and impressive than initially expected, effortlessly introducing interesting new mechanics and challenges. It’s not just a standard shooting gallery, but also a platformer, a simple puzzle game, and an adventure that doesn’t scrimp on spectacle.

It gets so much right, in fact, that it’s unfortunate it doesn’t last just a little bit longer. It takes approximately five hours to blow through the campaign, and there’s little reason to replay aside from collecting some hidden pickups scattered throughout the environments. A few more chapters to round things out would have been perfect, though it certainly doesn’t outstay its welcome.

Then, of course, there’s the multiplayer. Given that Titanfall was one of my favorite online FPS experiences ever, the sequel has a lot to live up to and almost pulls it off. Don’t get me wrong, Titanfall 2 is still pretty great stuff, it just dials back on specific design decisions that cemented the first as an instant classic for me.

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Technically speaking, it’s still a blisteringly-paced, twitch-oriented shooter with an extremely fast time-to-kill rate and the movement and overall control is as solid as it gets for the genre. There have been tweaks in many areas, though, such as how summoned Titans no longer have recharging shields and are dependent on batteries that teammates pull from enemy mechs. Great when a team’s switched on and helping one another, but can be rather more irritating when they blithely ignore the smoke pumping out of a friendly Titan.

There’s also a ton of new weaponry and gear available, from the awesome Mastiff shotgun with its insane horizontal spread to a grappling hook that can be used to scale walls and Titans alike. The controversial Smart Pistol from the first game returns as a ‘Boost’ perk earned by doing well in battle, which makes it even more useless since any half-decent player will murder the user by the time it locks on. Then, it’s gone until re-earned. There are also a handful of new modes to play such as Bounty Hunt — killing enemies earns money to be banked between waves, but die at any point and half the money gets stolen by the killer. It’s all great stuff, it’s just packaged in a slightly less impressive manner.

For example, the multiplayer campaign is gone. Fair enough, given that a more traditional campaign replaces it, but the narrative hooks that livened up each match have been drastically reduced across all modes. It’s a shame, as it used to inject some subtle (but effective) tension when players were informed that their poor performance was causing half the fleet to get wiped out mid-match. More than that, the old approach infused each map with personality. Fracture was where the Militia made a last ditch refueling run, and the attack on Demeter underscored a do-or die-battle to cripple IMC access into the Frontier. Every map in Titanfall 2 is basically just where some people run around on walls and shoot each other for whatever reason.

The map design is also less interesting. For my money, Crash Site and Homestead are the worst maps in the franchise, and others look too similar to one another with their futuristic industrial leanings — don’t expect to see many lush forests, tranquil lagoons or floodlit nighttime airbases this time out.

The reduced number of AI characters on the field also make matches feel less like warzones, and the maps can feel a bit too large for just six players per team, sometimes not funneling them into one another quite as they should. The moment-to-moment action isn’t quite as intense as before, and while it’s probably a little more balanced, it’s also a little more camper-friendly. Running around looking for something to shoot in a Titanfall sequel is a strange and unwelcome sensation, and it would have been nice to have at least one mode that matched the sheer craziness of the first game.

Titanfall 2 is both a triumph and a mild disappointment, providing an exceptionally well-crafted singleplayer campaign alongside robust multiplayer that doesn’t quite hit the heights of its groundbreaking predecessor despite some great additions to the formula – the Legion Titan’s minigun is undoubtedly a thing of wonder. Despite my feeling that the multi has lost a few tricks, it remains pretty much best-in-class, and newcomers to the series will undoubtedly be blown away. Rating: 8.5 out of 10


 

Disclosures: This game is developed by Respawn and published by Electronic Arts. It is currently available on PS4, Xbox One and PC. This copy of the game was obtained via retail store and reviewed on the PS4. Approximately 7 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. 30 hours of play were spent in multiplayer modes.

 Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated Mature and contains blood and gore, language and violence. Necks get snapped, heads get popped and countless grunts meet their maker throughout, but it’s pretty cartoony overall. Sure, enemies burst apart in a brief cloud of blood after being shot with energy weapons but it’s all over in a flash. I doubt most teenagers would bat an eyelid at the level of violence in the game.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: In multiplayer, players who can’t hear enemies and battle noise are at a clear disadvantage against anyone who can. In the single player, most dialogue is subtitled though ‘background’ noise can sometimes be absent – for example, during an early mission there’s an ongoing enemy broadcast that isn’t subtitled at all.

Remappable Controls: Certain functions are remappable. There’s a variety of control options to choose from, though a player can’t create their own layouts.

Colorblind Modes: There are colorblind modes available in the options, which is awesome.

 

 

Darren Forman

Darren Forman

Spawned in the wilds of Scotland like some random MMORPG enemy whose sole purpose is to be hunted down and slaughtered for loot, young Darren spent the first fifty years of life eating bark and bears alike in a desperate bid to survive the elements.

The chance discovery of a muddy, burnt out copy of '50 Shades of Grey' in a hunting pit gave him an appreciation for complex plots, characters and overarching narrative, and the unexpected gift of a Spectrum 48k allowed him to indulge in these newfound sensibilities with intelligent, highbrow games such as 'flee from the badly animated spinning turquoise dolphins' or 'avoid the deadly glowing bricks of doom'.

The fusion of both these interests finally culminated with Darren teaching himself how to write by basically guessing at what words might look like when jotted down on paper as opposed to being howled inarticulately at the skies.

Now others occasionally get to read his scribblings. Lucky them.
Darren Forman

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