Like Star Wars Battlefront, Evolve, and Rainbow Six Siege, the original Titanfall was a multiplayer game that kind of had a campaign. While it had a story mode, it was really just a loosely connected string of multiplayer matches. But with Titanfall 2 (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC), the good people at Respawn Entertainment have given this sci-fi shooter a real, no-foolin’, story-driven, single-player campaign. With this sequel not out yet, and thus the multiplayer servers not yet populated, here’s my assessment of the game’s campaign to tide you over until I’m able to shoot real people online.
Set a few years after the original, and many years in our future, Titanfall 2 casts you as Jack Cooper, a rifleman in the Frontier Militia. During a mission to the planet Typhon, your commanding officer is killed, and it’s up to you to complete his mission to investigate a research facility run by your enemies in the IMC. Which doesn’t just require you to shoot IMC soldiers and their robots, but it also means you have to pilot your former commander’s Titan, a heavily armed and armored mech suit.
As in the original, Titanfall 2 has you engaging in a series of frantic firefights, both on the ground and in your Titan. But there’s more to sci-fi shooter than just deciding if you want to be a foot soldier or, well, a really tall foot soldier. Especially since there are missions where you don’t get to make that decision. Along with all the running and gunning, Titanfall 2 also has you wall-running like in Prince Of Persia, double jumping like in Doom, and sliding like in, well, MLB 17: The Show. All of which is helpful and satisfying since you can not only shoot while wall-running, jumping, and sliding, but you can also come at your enemies feet- and fist-first.
This fancy footwork also makes getting around in Titanfall 2 a lot more interesting, as there are times when you have to do these acrobatic moves to get to your next gun fight. Granted, it never gets as puzzling or obstacle course-esque like it does in such dedicated platformers as Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze or the recent Ratchet & Clank, though some scenarios do require a bit of trial and error. Thankfully, the game’s controls make the platforming here work far better than it does in such similarly first-person games as Mirror’s Edge Catalyst and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.
The platforming in Titanfall 2 also gives you more options when it comes to approaching your objectives and enemies. Battles are often set in large to mid-size areas that include beautiful jungles, busy factories, damaged buildings, and elevated industrial platforms, many of which are multifaceted, both horizontally and vertically. Which not only gives you the opportunity to attack your enemies from multiple directions, but you can also use the aforementioned platforming to flank them as well (though it means your enemies can attack you from all sides as well). You can even use your personal cloaking device to approach someone all quiet-like, or use a silent kill if you get the jump on them, both of which can help you thin the herd like you can in Battlefield 1 and Wolfenstein: The New Order.
As for your sweet, sweet ride, while you use the same Titan throughout Titanfall 2, he’s rather versatile. As you progress, you’ll occasionally find weapons packages from other types of Titans, which not only include their main guns, but their special attacks and defensive systems as well. You can then, on the fly, switch between them, even in mid-battle, essentially turning your little buddy into a Swiss army mech.
Setting up the action in Titanfall 2‘s campaign is an epic story full of explosive moments that are told with cinematic precision and flair. This not only gives you good motivation to keep going, since it gets you invested in both your character and your Titan — who has the dry cool wit of an unintentionally funny robot — but it also does a good job of setting up the game’s action scenes.
Of course, all of this would be for naught if Titanfall 2 didn’t have smooth and intuitive controls like a Halo game, a Call Of Duty sequel, or, well, the original Titanfall. It’s why the campaign in Titanfall 2 is not only a great first-person shooter on par with 2007’s Halo 3, 2008’s Gears Of War 2, and 2010’s Call Of Duty: Black Ops, but also has the same effortless vibe as Fallout 4, Rise Of The Tomb Raider, and any other game where you sit down to play for an hour, and before you know it, it’s four in the morning, and where the hell are my pants?
As effortlessly great as the campaign in Titanfall 2 may be, though, it’s not perfect. Though, admittedly, none of its problems are all that, well, problematic. For instance, one of the bad guys sounds like he’s doing a bad Arnold Schwarzenegger impression, which makes him more laughable than threatening.
It also seems like an oversight that you can’t mix and match the guns, special attacks, and defensive capabilities of the Titans when you find their weapon packages. Though, while we’re on the subject of options, I also wish you could turn off the music in the campaign like you can in multiplayer. Which is not to say the music is bad, just that it sometimes ruins the vibe when it’s just you against the world.
Titanfall 2 also also has a problem so prevalent in video games these days that I cut and paste this paragraph into every relevant review I write: some of the type is too small. If you sit at a reasonable distance from your television — y’know, like your mama told you to — you’ll have trouble reading the captions. Which is odd given how the aforementioned the good people at Respawn Entertainment had the forethought to put the captions in black boxes so the white text wouldn’t disappear against the light colored backgrounds.
Even with these minor annoyances, though, Titanfall 2 is an epic and engaging sci-fi shooter, easily one of the year’s best games, gun-related or otherwise. So much so that even if you don’t plan on playing its multiplayer, this is still worth picking up, since the campaign is strong enough that you’ll end up playing it multiple times…unlike the “campaigns” in some other games we know.