In 2014, we were introduced to the universe of “Titanfall”, and what a roller-coaster of a competitive multiplayer shooter it was. It introduced new mechanics involving climbing into giant mechs called Titans to battle enemy forces while also keeping on-foot combat that we were all familiar with. It’s literally the only multiplayer game I’ve played where I reached the “prestige” status with my character. That’s how into the game I was. But there was something sorely lacking from the original: a robust campaign. I know I wasn’t alone in wishing there were a mode that fleshed out a bit more of the story and let me fight against enemy AI instead of merely winning or losing rounds with friends and strangers. Thankfully, “Titanfall 2” is upon us, and while it still has a very deep multiplayer experience, we finally have a meaty story to dive into in between online matches. For the purpose of this review, I will be covering the campaign only. We will review the competitive portion of the game at a later time.
You assume the role of Jack Cooper, a rifleman for The Militia, a group that since the events of the last game is now on the offensive against the Interstellar Manufacturing Corporation (IMC), who still dominates this interstellar war. Cooper, who is obviously not a pilot, is thrown into battle during a surprise skirmish. Cooper’s mentor, Captain Lastimosa, is mortally wounded during the battle, and transfers authorization to Cooper to use his Titan, which is named “BT”. Cooper and BT work together to complete Lastimosa’s original directive, which includes reuniting with Major Anderson. This leads to bigger and more intense battle sequences, and eventually wiping out IMC leaders in their respective Titans.
When I started the campaign, I was very nervous about the lack of depth, but was pleasantly surprised with how bombastic the set pieces and events turned out to be. At the beginning, I felt like I was merely doing fetch quests with fights that were mediocre at best. By the time I reached the finale, I was pumping my fist in the air with just how incredibly action-packed each scene surprised me with. I won’t go as far as to say that the game is a slow burn, but the excitement definitely ramps up with each new area. The game even varies its mechanics to constantly give you something fresh, but never lingers on one aspect too long. Just when I felt worried that I might get bored with doing one thing, it switches it up on me, and I’m learning a whole new way to traverse and fight.
The shooting mechanics, both on foot and in a Titan feel very tight, but I felt that the realism wasn’t there like it is in other modern shooters. To be fair, I don’t believe that’s what developer Respawn intended anyway, but at times, I felt very reminded that I was playing a video game instead of having an experience. I also had issue with a couple of the boss battles in the game. One, in particular, was frustratingly difficult and brought an action-packed, thrilling sequence to a screeching halt that momentarily took me out of the excitement. While I don’t have the answer, there simply has to be a better way to offer a challenge in the end-game.
All of this, however, is forgivable in my book thanks to some incredibly clever moments before and after the boss battles that more than make up for it. I won’t risk spoiling the experience for anyone, but there are more than one instance where I was genuinely surprised by what was happening on-screen, and it truly made me feel like a soldier in an epic, futuristic battle.
I know I run the risk of sounding hyperbolic, but this is a serious contender for my favorite first-person shooter campaign experience of the year thus far. It’s what I’ve wanted out of Call of Duty for several years, but haven’t quite received since the first Modern Warfare. It quits while it’s ahead, giving the player a perfect game length. I recommend doing your very best to avoid spoilers as much as possible, as part of this game’s selling point is the surprises. Don’t miss “Titanfall 2”; it’s truly something special.