An Iron Giant: A Review of “Titanfall 2”

2013’s Xbox-exclusive Titanfall seemed to come and go with relatively little fanfare despite the incredible hype it garnered prior to its release. With Titanfall 2 (available on Xbox One, PS4, and PC), Respawn Entertainment aims to revitalize its series in hopes of providing an experience that makes good on the original’s monumental expectations. Titanfall 2 delivers in nearly every respect, becoming one of the absolute best games of 2016.

Whereas its predecessor contained only multiplayer offerings, Titanfall 2 includes a remarkable single-player campaign that stretches about four or five hours, as well as a robust multiplayer component you can easily spend dozens more hours enjoying.

Titanfall 2 is a first-person shooter where, almost 100% of the time, your objective is to shoot stuff. This should sound relatively familiar to anyone who has had any exposure to modern video games. But where Titanfall 2 stands out is in its stellar controls. This is simply put one of the best feeling shooters I’ve ever played.

As a pilot, you have the ability to double-jump, knee-slide, run on walls, and grappling hook your way up to vantage points — all the while unloading countless magazines on your enemies. The intuitive controls make it easy to chain these moves together to substantial effect, resulting in exciting moments in which you flank your opposition with ease. The range of mobility at your disposal in Titanfall 2 is completely unmatched by its peers, and very few in the genre have weaponry that feel as fun and precise to shoot, too.

In the campaign you control Jack Cooper, a standard rifleman deployed in a futuristic war where man and machine fight together. You fight along pilots, specialized infantry who can take control of bipedal mechanized tanks that stand 25-feet tall called Titans. You’re paired up with a fallen comrade’s Titan early on, and you’re called upon to defeat the evil Interstellar Manufacturing Corporation.

It’s unfortunate that the story presented in Titanfall 2 is decidedly the worst aspect of the game. It feels like the developers at Respawn came up with the exciting scenarios and set-pieces first, only then attempting to tie them together through a loose narrative structure. This makes for an enjoyable gameplay experience, but on a narrative standpoint, it just doesn’t work very well.

But even with its uninspired story, the campaign in Titanfall 2 is still one of the best of the year due to its many awe-inspiring scenes. New, interesting gameplay mechanics are introduced mission-to-mission, making each level feel like a nice change of pace from the last, resulting in a campaign that remains engaging throughout and never becomes repetitive.

And while I prefer controlling pilots due to their increased mobility, taking control of a Titan is an equally exhilarating experience. Titans don’t possess the impressive mobility that pilots have, but this is countered by a substantial boost in weapon capability. Battles between Titans are edge-of-your-seat spectacles and feel distinct from the firefights you have as a pilot.

While I loved the single player portion of Titanfall 2, it’s main selling point is it’s wonderful multiplayer component, which I know I will be losing a lot of time to in the foreseeable future. Here you can create your own pilot and Titan loadouts, taking with you into battle a variety of weaponry and abilities over a plethora of game modes and maps. You and up to 15 other players start every match in control of your pilot, gaining the ability to call in your Titan as you complete objectives and fight the opposing team. The dynamic here is awesome, with pilots fighting pilots, Titans fighting Titans, and everything in between.

Some game modes are familiar, like Free for All and Capture the Flag, while others introduce compelling, unique mechanics to the mix. My favorite mode, Attrition, for example, places never ending streams of non-player AI combatants within the war zone in what would otherwise be a standard variation on Team Deathmatch. This mode is appropriately hectic as the battlefields crowd with dozens of infantry, lending to matches that are without a single dull moment.

Similar to any other modern multiplayer shooter, every objective you complete in a multiplayer match nets you experience points in order to level up and gain new gear. The process here, while it feels very familiar, still remains rewarding.

With a release date sandwiched between the latest installments in the Battlefield and Call of Duty series, Titanfall 2 no doubt has its work cut out for it. Appropriately enough, though, Titanfall 2 feels like an amalgamation of the best aspects of its two main competitors. It balances the large maps and focus on vehicular combat of Battlefield with the speed and infantry combat of Call of Duty, making Titanfall 2 a wholly phenomenal shooter that you should be playing.

— Michael Lane, Blog Editor


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