While Hollywood often struggles to make a decent sequel, the gaming industry has no such issues. Some of the greatest games ever made are sequels. Classics like Half-Life 2, Red Dead Redemption, Portal 2, StarCraft 2, Metal Gear Solid 2, Resident Evil 2, Mass Effect 2, Halo 2 –, and these are just the second games in a series. With the first Titanfall, Respawn Entertainment showed incredible promise with a brilliantly fast-paced, superbly balanced multiplayer game. What it lacked more than anything else, was content. The “campaign” for the game was just more multiplayer matches with a soupçon of story sprinkled at the beginning and end of each match. There were only a handful of modes and maps available at launch. This was fixed through DLC, but by that time a lot of the player base had moved on. So how has Respawn set about fixing these issues for the sequel?
Well the big headline of this new game is that it has a singleplayer campaign. It tells the story of Jack Cooper, a rifleman who is promoted to pilot status when the regular pilot for Titan BT-7274 is killed. Teaming up together, the pair have to complete BT-7274’s mission and support any allies they find along the way. Through the campaign you’ll visit lush countryside, military complexes, automated factories, and sewer systems. You will have to battle your way past soldiers, titans, robots, and alien creatures (that wouldn’t look out of place in ‘Avatar’). Alongside these you will come across a few special Titans that work like end-level bosses. These foes are given great introductions akin to the ones in Borderlands.
The whole campaign has a sheen of quality you would expect from the original creators of the Call of Duty franchise. The best bit, though, is the way that it still feels like Titanfall. It would have been very easy for the singleplayer campaign to just play like a generic futuristic first-person shooter, but it never feels that way. Even when you’re not piloting your Titan, the speed of movement and traversal techniques that you are required to do, keep it feeling exactly how Titanfall should feel. There are some really memorable set-pieces and a particularly great mission where you are flipping backwards and forwards in time to progress through locked doors, missing floors, fires, and laser grids. Clocking in at only around 6 hours on a decent difficulty setting, it is quite short; but though it may be small, it is quite perfectly formed.
And when you talk about perfectly formed, you also have to mention the multiplayer. As the sequel to a multiplayer-only game, you would expect this part of Titanfall 2 to perform well, and boy does it. The same quick movement, balanced gameplay, and giant robots that made us fall in love with Titanfall in the first place are back and just as good as ever. While the first game may have lacked modes at launch, Titanfall 2 has an abundance of them. There’s ‘Amped Hardpoint’, ‘Bounty Hunt’, ‘Capture The Flag’, ‘Coliseum’, ‘Free For All’, ‘Last Titan Standing’, and ‘Pilots Vs. Pilots’. All of these variations benefit from different tactics and play styles, yet reward anyone who is generally good at the game.
Graphically Titanfall 2 looks pretty good, but it’s the super smooth framerate that really sells the visuals. Just like the first game, this entry uses a version of Source, Valve’s game engine. This means that it doesn’t have the amazing textures of other EA games, that use DICE’s incredible Frostbite engine, but still looks good and moves beautifully. The visuals in the game are helped by the variety of locations alongside the general design of characters and other items. The animation of all the characters and the speed that the game moves though is superb. The audio is also top notch with a fantastic musical score, great sounding weapons, and nice dialogue with some fun banter between Cooper and his Titan.
Titanfall 2 is a great step forward from the previous game. The much anticipated singleplayer campaign may be short, but it is exactly what the game needs. I do hope that for Titanfall 3, this singleplayer element is a little longer, but for a first step in that direction it’s great. Once again the multiplayer is absolutely top-notch and even though other games have tried to copy the game’s mobility (I’m looking at you Call of Duty) nobody does it better than Titanfall. This really is a complete package and everything is done well. Titanfall 2 may be squeezed in-between the heavy hitter shooters of Battlefield 1 and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, but this game more than deserves an audience. In my opinion, it has a better campaign than Battlefield 1 (which is no slouch) and the multiplayer will likely be better than the latest Call of Duty game. Those mega-franchises may well sell more copies this year than Titanfall 2, but I firmly believe that they are not its equal, because Respawn Entertainment has created something really special.