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Titanfall 2

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Respawn Entertainment
Release Date: Oct. 28, 2016

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PS4 Review - 'Titanfall 2'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Oct. 31, 2016 @ 2:00 a.m. PDT

Titanfall 2 is a sequel to Respawn's inagural online game that combines fast-paced multiplayer action with the heroic set piece moments traditionally found in campaign mode.

Buy Titanfall 2

The Xbox One-exclusive Titanfall was probably the first major new IP of the current console generation. That's why it's rather exciting to see Titanfall 2 finally make its way to the PS4, so gamers who missed out on the original will have a chance to see what the hype was about. Titanfall 2 puts a strong foot forward; it's a solid package with good single-player and multiplayer gameplay, and sometimes, that's just enough.

Titanfall 2's story gives us our first real look into the world of Titanfall, as the previous game was mostly focused on the multiplayer. It follows a war between two factions — the Frontier Militia and the Interstellar Manufacturing Corporation (IMC) — who are engaged in a frantic war. The IMC is attempting to establish dominance over the human space colonies, and the Militia is fighting back. Players are placed in the shoes of Militia rifleman Jack Cooper, who is sent on a mission to the planet Typhon, where the IMC is developing a weapon. An ambush leaves his entire squad in ruins, and the only survivor is an AI mechanical weapon, a Titan known as BT-7274. The pair must work together to survive Typhon's harsh environments and the IMC's deadly plans.


Titanfall 2'splot takes few risks, has few surprises and dutifully goes through its requisite story points. BT is a fun character, and the player's ability to choose Cooper's responses makes the friendship feel a little more natural. Alas, the rest of the game is populated by paper-thin characters who never develop into anything more. This isn't really a problem, as Titanfall 2 is more of a cheesy summer blockbuster than anything that tries to evoke deep pathos. There are a few annoying elements, including an obviously dangling sequel hook, but nothing sours the experience. You might forget it an hour after you finish it, but it'll be fun until then.

In many ways, Titanfall 2 is a standard shooter. If you've played any shooter in recent memory, you'll know what to expect. You can hold two weapons at once and regenerate health, but Cooper doesn't have a ton of special abilities and doesn't really level up. Instead, once you get past the tutorial, you're thrown into the fray. Your best weapon in Titanfall 2 is mobility. Cooper's pilot suit allows him to run on walls, slide like a rocket across the floor and double-jump.

It is possible to treat Titanfall 2 as a game where it's valid to run from enemies. You can escape from a number of combat areas through a combination of parkour and pathing. Even if you're not running, you can choose higher ground so you're harder to hit, and you can run along walls to attack enemies from unexpected angles. There are also plenty of straight platforming challenges that ask you to chain together jumps. Cooper has access to a cloaking device that can be used for a break in combat or as a way to sneak up on enemies for melee takedowns.


The level design also takes advantage of Cooper's ridiculous mobility. There are multiple paths through each area, and I never actually felt like I was stuck about where to go. If I saw a spot, I could generally figure out a path to reach it. Some areas are more linear than others, but as long as you're out of your Titan, you'll probably be offered some choice in what to do. It keeps the mobility feeling fresh because it's naturally integrated into the gameplay. There are a lot of blatant "use wall-run here" areas, but the game is good about pointing them out without requiring neon signs. However, if you get stuck, the game offers a "Pilot Ghost" who shows you the intended path. Despite it being a FPS, the entire game is designed to take advantage of the pilot's mobility.

Of course, the titular Titan is also a large part of the game. BT-7274 is a giant powerful suit of armor with a mind of its own, and getting to pilot it means you gain a lot of firepower. Every Titan has a main weapon, a handful of secondary weapons, and a super-powerful core attack that is charged by fighting. The weapons range from rocket launchers to a mecha-sized sword. You can swap loadouts instantly once you've unlocked it, and you can change it at any time, so BT's combat abilities are far more flexible than Cooper. Unlike Cooper, BT is more durable and more vulnerable at the same time. When he takes enough damage, it ruptures his hull, and you'll need to find batteries (health kits) in the area or rip them out of an enemy titan. BT is understandably less mobile than Cooper. You can leave BT to fight on his own, but the pair is more powerful when Cooper is piloting BT.

The biggest issue with Titanfall 2's campaign is that despite the name and the hype, the Titan is the least interesting thing about the game. The campaign dances from idea to idea, and a lot of them are interesting. The high point of the game is where you temporarily gain access to a time travel device that allows instant swapping between two time periods. The fights and puzzles use this repeatedly, and it's so incredibly fun that when the machine broke and I was forced back into the Titan, I was more disappointed than excited. It doesn't help that BT is separated from you so often. You wouldn't think a giant robot would be easy to lose track of, but the game finds a lot of excuses to dump him for a while.


Fortunately, this works in the game's favor, as the wall-running, time-traveling, and set piece-focused design mean that nothing stays boring for too long. The campaign is short and sweet, as I ran through it in about six hours. There are harder difficulty modes, but I don't see myself returning to try them. Each section lasts just long enough for its specific gameplay mechanic to be interesting without becoming overused. All in all, the campaign is more of an extended tutorial for multiplayer than a stand-alone product, but it's strong and enjoyable.

Of course, Titanfall 2 wouldn't be complete without its multiplayer modes, and fortunately, themultiplayer is a boatload of fun. It carries over the same high-mobility gameplay options as the single-player campaign and adds a few more. You can customize your character with various weapon loadouts and special items. The most significant of these is the grappling hook, which turns the high-speed Titanfall gameplay into something even more intense, since you can cross huge gaps and come at enemies from unexpected directions. The big selling point of Titanfall 2 is that you're more mobile than in almost any other FPS on the planet, and fights involve as much vertical space as they do horizontal.

Titans can also be deployed in multiplayer. Your ability to initiate a Titanfall is determined by a meter that slowly builds up based on the enemies you've killed and the objectives you've secured. Get enough, and you can call in your own Titan to fight alongside you as an AI ally or that you can hop into. While a Titan with proper pilot backup can easily slaughter an enemy team, they're not quite instant-win buttons. Titans are similar to a tank in that they're durable, powerful and have tons of firepower, but they still need infantry support. If you use Titans stupidly, it's easy for a pilot to initiate a "Rodeo Attack" by hopping onto your Titan and dropping bombs in open hatches.


There are a handful of gameplay modes, and each focuses on different mechanics. Bounty Hunt has players killing each other and AI opponents to earn bounties that need to be cashed in. Hardpoint forces players to defend specific locations. There are both Titan-only and Pilot-only deathmatch modes, and in Coliseum mode, you can earn special tickets to unlock additional customization options. There's a good variety here and plenty of different modes to play. Bounty Hunt felt like the best-balanced mode, but players will be able to find something to like in any of the modes.

My biggest complaint is that the standard-issue leveling feels unbalanced, as even somewhat leveled characters have a huge advantage over the standard loadouts. It doesn't take too long to level up to the point where you don't feel at a disadvantage, but when you start out, you'll feel like you're outclassed in more than skill.

Titanfall 2 is a good-looking game. The environments and character models are nice, although I discovered some shockingly bad textures in places — usually in spots where the game expected I wouldn't be looking. It ran smoothly and with minimal hitching, and some of the art design was quite nice. The soundtrack was unmemorable; it did its job of setting the mood and not an iota more. I liked the voice acting, though. BT's Optimus Prime sound-alike voice acting worked well for the character, and Matthew Mercer does a solid (if rather Troy Baker-ish) job as Jack Cooper. Some of the side actors are bland, but only these two actors are around long enough to leave an impact anyway.

All in all, Titanfall 2 is a well-made and enjoyable shooter that should be a good buy for any shooter fans. The main campaign is fun to play through, and it makes good use of gameplay mechanics. The multiplayer is fast, frantic and exciting, and it has enough variety that people will repeatedly come back to blast apart pilots and Titans. For PlayStation owners, this is the first chance to try out Titanfall's high-mobility gameplay, but even fans coming over from the Xbox One should enjoy the improvements.

Score: 8.5/10



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