Titanfall 2 review

titanfall-28833-1920x1080.jpgConfession: I have been pleasuring myself to Titanfall 2. Wait, no. I have been pleasuring myself with Titanfall 2. Or maybe both.

Titanfall 2 a is real heavy hitter when it comes to mainstream first person shooters. And I’m not even that big on FPS, either. I’ve had my share of Battlefields and CoDs, and I was happy to quickly let them go. But I think I will be holding on to Titanfall 2 for possibly a long time, both replaying the solid, joyful and surprisingly emotional adventure that comprises the single-player campaign, and delving deeper into the masterful, balls-out multiplayer blitz.

Titanfall™ 2_20161125185731I’m not here to sell video games for anyone, and certainly not for corporate giants. Frankly, I don’t give a fuck if Respawn Entertainment, T2’s developer, survives–even if I appreciate their effort in this case, you never know the personal, social, environmental etc. cost involved in the making of such a thing. You never know what this shit really does to the world. My gut says none of it should even exist.

And I sure as hell don’t care if Electronic Arts, the game’s publisher, bite the dust–they probably deserve it, not least for releasing this iteration of Titanfall sandwiched between CoD IW and their own Battlefield 1. Dummies.

But because I myself want to play this game with friends, I care that it is supported long-term, and for that I need others to play it as well, and for that I’d like you to cinsider checking it out.

As far as video games in general go, especially AAA titles, I’d like to see T2 mark a trend in game publishing that will enable more games like this to make their way out there and be appreciated, if not at all without reservations. To this end, let me point out some things that make Titanfall 2 worth your while:

— Unlike the original Titanfall, the sequel includes a single-player story mode. Now, you know the story campaign is never meant to be the point of an FPS, and that’s the case here too. The point of the story in an FPS game is to give you compelling and/or convincing reasons to shoot things. And Titanfall 2’s story does that very well.

Actually, thanks for making Titanfall sci-fi when DICE does the Great War in BF1. You know what, don’t fucking touch WW1 in a Battlefield game. You can’t make it fun without making a fool out of yourself; and you cannot make it serious without making it not-fun and getting yourself bankrupt. Titanfall 2 is different. It is meant to be fun with a hint of seriousness, and it pulls that off nicely. Its creators understand it well and find a fitting bracket for it.

This game’s story does more, however. The narrative it introduces is so competent and solid, it’s such a great adventure within the parameters set for a blockbuster FPS that it makes me wish Titanfall 2 was actually an adventure game and developed its themes further. The campaign takes you on a thrilling ride — one you may indeed care to be on —  revolving around your (rather generic) character’s becoming a titan pilot and bonding with titan BT 7274. There are a few amazing twists thrown in as well, including at the very end, so wait out the end credits and check it out. Pretty cool stuff overall, with virtually no mishaps. In fact, prepare to be wowed…

Titanfall™ 2_20161125002726— And what may wow you is how closely integrated the story is with gripping gameplay mechanics, culminating in a deeply immersive, cohesive package. Oftentimes when playing just about any game, I am struck at how nonsensical things on screen can get. Is Titanfall 2’s world far-fetched? Of course. Dude, it’s absolute nonsense. Titans dropping from the sky? Wallrunning with your tongue hanging out like you have 9 lives? Talk about PTSD. If you survive, that is — and you would not and no one would. No way.

But at the same time, when you step into it and take it for what it is, including the available tech, things kinda make sense or at least they are presented in a way that avoids jarring nonsense.

This goes for the mechanics of the game as well. Titanfall’s signature wallrunning and double jumping and sliding and shooting while doing all of it combine to form the solid-as-hell basis of a fluid and frantic movement system. Fuck parkour, this is the shit. Unlike in many other games that have you do high jumps and falls, here it makes sense that you don’t get hurt during: you can even hear the jet pack, or whatever it is, soften your landing each time, and you can see this happen around you as you gently slow down when approaching the ground. Devil’s in the details.

Now, I prefer the creeping tension of stealth and sneaking and careful positioning and developing tactical advantage, but when it comes to run-and-gun, few if any titles can match Titanfall 2.

It helps to keep things from deteriorating into mindlessness that players are vulnerable and easy to kill in Pilot mode if you actually manage to hit their lightning-quick butts. Even the mighty titans don’t have it easy and can be eliminated with sustained fire from a few pilots wielding anti-titan guns, motivating them to stay on the move and watch out. And all this gives the available weaponry and overall situation an aura of lethality, when so often in FPS you feel like shooting rubber bullets at enemies made of steel. Here you have to even be careful not to shoot your friends, cause there’s actual friendly fire in multiplayer and I love it.

Titanfall™ 2_20161122154134While multiplayer matches seldom slow down, as you are made to mow enemies down wholesale, the campaign takes a different tack, thankfully!, and lets you have some quiet moments of exploration and world-appreciation, accentuating some of the best moments of the game’s story. This contrast with typical run-and-gun is much needed and I hope it finds a home in similar games.

I only regret I have found almost none of this contrast in multiplayer. Even though I try to practice a bit of a slower playing style, get into superior positions, creep up on enemies, and so on, I’m not sure how much flexibility there is in Titanfall 2’s multi to do such things, even in pilot mode. You certainly are pushed by game mechanics such as match scoring and the grappling hooks, phase ins etc. and, umm, titans, as well as by other players, to going in at lightning speed. Scoring, for instance, revolves around balls-out offence, i.e., number of kills, instead of a balanced kill/death ratio, which would encourage caution and effort to preserve yourself. Now, if you’re anything like me, this will make you burn out faster and leave the game sooner. If so, this is not in the games’s best interest.

Meanwhile, for better or worse, Titanfall 2 is rife with legions of 13-year-old wankers with ADHD who are all too eager to shoot my brains out before I can even read their nick. If you don’t have ADHD yourself, odds are you’ll get it here, unfortunately. Shit is frantic as hell, and I wouldn’t mind slowing things down. In fact there’s reason for it beyond the simple desire to keep your sanity: you might want to have a good look around because…

Titanfall™ 2_20161125001310— The setting and presentation of Titanfall 2 are stunning. The map and level design is so good that it makes me want to lose myself in these places and explore them to the fullest. Even if I have no chance on account of how quick things go down around there. This goes for multiplayer, but the campaign gives you ample opportunity to take the vistas right in.

I don’t usually favor such awe-inspiring views. They smack too much of Michael Bay. But on its own terms, here this stuff is as good as it gets: mind-blowing when that’s called for, toned down and functionally sufficient when that’s in order. It’s smart that way, avoiding the pitfalls of the likes of Uncharted 4, in which every object is nuanced and loaded with data to a point where the whole game is dragged down to 30 frames per second in single player mode.

Meanwhile, Titanfall 2 runs much more smoothly on the same console, helping raise the standard for developers who either give scant attention to the console market, treating console players as an afterthought and prioritizing expensive PCs, even as they continue to demand that full price be paid for their sub-standard releases. Kudos, Respawn.

I cannot really do justice to the visuals through words, so just have a look at these screenshots from my playthrough.

Actually, as pertains to both visual scope and pacing of the game, with the update of November 30, a patch has been added to Titanfall on consoles that adds the Field of View slider to the options, allowing for expansion of the FOV from meager 70 degrees all the way up to 110 degrees. About time! This really helps you see more without turning around frantically like a madman, and allows folks like me (i.e. over 13 years of age) to enjoy the game much more. FOV sliders are a must in FPS shooters, really, and ought to become standard on consoles, no question.

I might play the campaign again with 90-100 degree FOV just to see how much that improves things, but my feeling is that it improves them a lot.

Titanfall™ 2_20161122154037— I can do even less justice here to the sound design, except to say it’s one of the best I have ever come across in any game: sheer ear candy. The symphonic music is emotional yet subtle, and it knows its place, hardly hitting you in the face with walls of noise that would pile up on top of the already booming gun fire. The soundtrack is filled with well implemented swells and orchestral movements that replace the done-to-death electronics of standard FPS material. It has something of Star Trek in it, accentuating the astonishment of finding yourself at the “frontier” of the unknown out there in space.

The musical cues on the events in multiplayer, such as kills, level-ups and such, are spot on as well, leaving me feeling all warm and fuzzy and just right inside. Gun and other sounds, including switching and reloading and running and jumping and oh my god the titan sound design — these are all crisp and amount to a very satisfying auditory experience. Makes me want to just listen to this game, you know? Just listen. People, learn from Respawn here, I implore you.

Voice acting in the standard, English version has not pissed me off once. This really says something. In fact, it is pulled off expertly even though there is not exactly much to play around with. The game’s about shooting things, remember? But both Cooper and BT, around whose interactions the shooting revolves, come across as competent and convincing. The rest of the cast join them in delivering their lines with confidence and further feeding into the well-crafted world design.

I could go on and on about the things I like about Titanfall 2, and I’m sure I’ve missed a lot of stuff, but the bottomline is this: This is serious game of the year material, especially among other AAA titles, and most definitely among shooters.

If you were on the fence as to whether or not to play it, go and give it a good try. If you hadn’t considered it, Titanfall 2 offers a lot of fun in an interesting setting and with exciting gameplay, so give it a go.

With this user review, I hope to have caught your interest and supported the game I’m currently enjoying very much, even if I’d not think it exactly up my alley.

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