I never got around to playing the original Titanfall, which released on Xbox 360, Xbox One and PC in 2014. Titanfall was a big deal when it was announced; the first game from Respawn Entertainment, headed up by Infinity Ward co-founders Jason West and Vince Zampella – who’d left Activision in a storm of controversy involving unpaid bonuses, alleged insubordination and a staff exodus – it was a multiplayer only mech shooter that was also Microsoft console exclusive. Only releasing on the then-struggling Xbox One and way-past-its-prime Xbox 360 – as well as PC – meant that it missed out on a significant chunk of the gaming audience and felt like a major misstep. Not including a single player campaign further limited its appeal; introducing a new IP with lore that required quite a bit of setting up felt like another error in judgement. To this day, I still haven’t bothered with it.
That said, Titanfall was critically well received – sitting even now at 86% on Metacritic – and there was enough interest for a more fleshed out sequel. Titanfall 2 arrived in 2016 on all current gen formats – with PlayStation owners benefitting from the lack of exclusivity for the sequel – complete with a single player campaign to round out the package, alongside its comprehensive suite of multiplayer modes and content.
Having only purchased Titanfall 2 recently in a sale, I’ve not yet dipped my toes into the multiplayer waters and in all honesty, seeing how riddled with microtransactions it seems to be (this is pushed heavily in game), I’m not likely to. I have, however, played through the entirety of the single player campaign and it’s this that I’ll be giving you my thoughts on.
Respawn’s history with solid, cinematic and satisfying military first person shooter mechanics (given their experience with games such as the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare series) is clear to see right from the start of Titanfall 2. It’s hugely bombastic and feels absolutely massive in scale; along with this, the gunplay feels really hefty and impactful. Running at an impressively smooth 60fps certainly helps too.
Switching from being on foot to controlling your Titan is handled simply and with some stunning visual flourishes; though you won’t be able to engage in the double jumping, wall running antics that your human soldier uses when you’re in the pilot seat of the Titan, you’ll be squishing the more human-sized enemies and taking out massive bad guys in their own mech-based units, including plenty of boss-type antagonists that you’ll grow to hate over the course of the campaign.
And what a campaign it is. The sheer variety in environments and mechanics is bewildering, with an almost Mario-esque style of introducing a game changing mechanic or environment into the proceedings only to move on to something completely different in the next stage. Without spoiling the surprises, one of the major highlights of the game comes towards the last act, with an absolutely stunning sequence that’ll see you shifting backwards and forwards in time at will to proceed. It’s an astonishing stage in a game that isn’t short of jaw-dropping set pieces.
It’s not perfect; there are some parkour sections that feel overly fussy and some set pieces can feel a bit too scripted, with failure sending you back to repeat the same section over and over again with little variation until you’re able to proceed. Yet Titanfall 2 gets an awful lot right, with some truly memorable characters and genuinely diverse, uniformly excellent voice acting amongst the cast being another strong point. A lot is made of the bond between your character and his Titan (BT), who you’ll definitely become very attached to over the course of the game.
Though relatively short – the campaign can be completed in 6-8 hours – it’s a great selling point for quality over quantity. There’s very few dull moments and so many brilliant ideas thrown in to the sometimes dizzyingly vertical, time-jumping mech shenanigans that it is likely to become one of the most memorable FPS campaigns you’ve ever played. It’s well worth getting hold of Titanfall 2 to experience the campaign alone; I feel like I’ve had more than my moneys’ worth even without touching the multiplayer.
An excellent game then, even for the lone mech pilot – it’s set in a massively varied selection of environments with constantly changing and engaging mechanics. Though it’s four years old, it’s still an incredibly accomplished game from a technical point of view too – both the visuals and audio demonstrate the high production values and technical expertise you’d expect from a game published by EA (even though the stench of microtransactions also permeates the game, at least on the multiplayer side of things). If you haven’t already given Titanfall 2 a shot, I can heartily recommend playing it.
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