Press Start: 'Titanfall 2' builds on original's success
Sitting inside my mobile tank, I watched as friend and foe alike rushed to meet each other on the battlefield.
It looked like D-Day, only with giant piloted robots in place of foot soldiers.
It was awesome.
Piloting my own Titan—the Iron Giant-esque mech my character affectionately called “BT”—I rushed in and joined the fray, using BT's various weapons and powers to dominate my rivals.
That all happened in the single-playing campaign, a feature that was sorely missing from the original “Titanfall.”
As with its predecessor, “Titanfall 2” feels like two games in one. For the majority of the campaign and multiplayer, you play as a foot soldier (Pilot) who has the amazing ability to run on walls, slide, double-jump and boost around maps while shooting down foes. When I got the hang of the controls, I had a blast downing enemies while pulling off stylish moves.
The other, more unusual component of the game comes in the form of the Titans the Pilots control. These mechanized beasts can operate on their own when called into battle, but the fun part is jumping inside one and operating it yourself. With their different designs, weapons and powers, experimenting to see which Titan suits your play style becomes part of the draw.
“Titanfall 2” introduces a simple campaign to the game to add to the main attraction: the multiplayer. The story is short, taking maybe four or five hours to beat, but the length feels right. Play on hard, though; the campaign is a cakewalk on normal difficulty.
While the first half of “Titanfall 2's” campaign is largely boring, the second act ramps up the thrills, starting with a mission where player character Jack Cooper gets the ability to instantly warp between the past and present with a touch of a button. Each switch provides different enemies and platforming obstacles to overcome, creating an unusual mechanic where I had to switch often to avoid deathtraps, such as a fiery floor in the present or a giant industrial fan in the past.
The mechanic doesn't overstay its welcome, and pretty soon I found myself in a jaw-droppingly over-the-top Titan battle. Later, I was jumping between ships speeding over the ground and letting BT literally chuck me across maps to reach far-away locations. Needless to say, the story's second half more than makes up for its lackluster first.
I especially enjoyed Cooper's interactions with BT. During the pair's conversations, I often had the choice to say one of two things to my Titan companion, a mechanic seldom seen in shooting games. What I chose to say didn't affect the story in any way, but it was entertaining to hear different funny banter depending on my choice.
While I enjoyed the campaign, what gives “Titanfall 2” longevity is taking the fight online.
There are far more customization options available in “Titanfall 2” than were available in the original game, which is equal parts addicting and intimidating. With so many guns, Titans, perks and boosts to choose from, it can take a lot of trial and error to find what works best for your play style.
But it's entertaining to try, especially with the new grappling hook that makes me feel like Spider-Man as I swing around maps.
It's a bit harder to take Titans down if you aren't piloting one yourself this time around, but “Titanfall 2” still strikes that delicate balance. While calling in a Titan is definitely an advantage, playing as one doesn't make me feel overpowered, which is vital for fair and frustration-free matches.
My favorite multiplayer mode is Bounty Hunt, a game type that feels great even for someone not great at shooters, such as myself.
Players on both sides are given objectives to complete, such as eliminating a group of non-player characters or a random Titan. Each accomplishment grants players money they must then deposit in a few banks that pop up for a short period of time. Killing another player gives you half the money he or she hasn't deposited, leading to a fun balance between player-versus-player bouts and easy, yet enjoyable grub killing.
“Titanfall 2” builds on what made the original “Titanfall” so much fun. While the story isn't amazing, it features plenty of amazing set-piece moments and mechanics I won't soon forget. The balanced multiplayer is more in-depth than ever before, providing plenty of toys for players to experiment with over the next several months. The new Bounty Hunt mode is a fun game type for veterans and new players alike.
Final score: 8.5/10
“Titanfall 2” was reviewed on the Xbox One with a digital copy provided by the publisher's PR agency, fortyseven communications.
Video game columnist Jake Magee has been with GazetteXtra since 2014. His opinion is not necessarily that of Gazette management. Let him know what you think by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, leaving a comment below, or following @jakemmagee on Twitter.