With Soul Month now behind us, I decided to return to the eighth gen for this week’s game, mainly because I didn’t fancy venturing into the wasteland and battling marauders for the smallest chance of possibly having the opportunity to buy a ninth gen console. I think I’ll be sticking with my PS4 and Switch for the foreseeable. I’ve been an early-ish adapter to new consoles during the past couple of generations, but nothing on the list of launch games for the new machines made me think I just HAD to pick one up, and I still have quite a few PS4 and Switch games that haven’t even come out of the plastic yet, so I reckon I’ll continue working my way through those for the next year or so, which brings me to Titanfall 2.
The first Titanfall game was exclusive to the Xbox One, so I never got a chance to play it, and thus, when Titanfall 2 came out on both the Xbox One and PS4, I decided to give it a miss due to not playing the first one. However, whilst on a recent dive down a Jimquisition YouTube rabbit hole, I came across an episode where Jim spoke about Titanfall 2 and essentially stated that you really didn’t need to have played the first game in order to play the second. After watching the Zero Punctuation review of the game, I decided I’d have a look to see how much it cost and found that I could get it for less than a tenner, and thus I forked out the cash to see if I’d like it or not. After completing the campaign mode and having a day to digest it, I’d have to say “yes” but also add an “although” as well.
Titanfall 2 would appear to be set in the far flung future, although I don’t think they ever actually specify what year it takes place in. It’s far enough in the future that humanity has discovered many different habitable planets and can enlist the aid of big robots called “Titans” that they can take into battle with them. Titans are usually paired up with a specific operator known as a “Pilot”, and the idea is that the two work together to uphold their particular mission, with the Titan having a protocol that demands they protect the life of their Pilot. This being humanity and all, there are obviously some bad folk who are using the Titans to try to subjugate everyone else whilst harvesting the resources of other worlds, with the main culprit being a company called the IMC who often enlist amoral mercenaries to do their dirty work for them.
The IMC are opposed by the Militia, of which our player character, Jack Cooper, is a member. Jack starts out the game as a rifleman who is going through the initial stages of his Pilot training. However, after the good guys have their keisters thoroughly handed to them in the opening level, Jack ends up having to step into Pilot shoes before he is ready and is essentially forced to learn on the job. This works well as it gives us as the player a chance to learn along with Jack as he is paired up with experienced Titan BT-7274. By far one of the best parts of the story is Jack’s budding relationship with BT as throughout the game you are given a choice through dialogue trees as to how they react to the events of the story. You can either have Jack be a wisecracking sardonic who delivers lines that always go over BT’s head, or you can make him an earnest guy who leans on BT for support and genuinely cares for him.
Of course, the “human teams up with a robot who doesn’t quite grasp how humans communicate” trope is nothing new (Terminator 2: Judgment Day says hello), but Titanfall 2 executes it with a fair amount of charm, and I grew to like both Jack and BT as the story progressed. As a Pilot, Jack has a number of additional skills that he can utilise, such as being able to cloak himself momentarily in order to give him a window to escape when stuck in a firefight, and the game makes sure to ease you in when it comes to learning how to use them all. Pilots can not only double jump, but they can also run on walls, meaning that there is a lot of platforming mixed in with the usual shooting that you’d expect from the first-person shooter genre. How much you enjoy that will depend on your own personal tolerance for FPS platforming. I must admit that I found some of the running and jumping sections to be a tad excruciating, but I also can’t deny that I loved it when I was able to pull off a particularly difficult section on my first attempt.
Obviously though, Titanfall 2 eventually all boils down to Jack entering BT and taking on enemy Titans like the closing battle on an episode of Power Rangers, but I must admit that these sections were probably the ones I enjoyed the least, mainly because I wasn’t really any good in them. I’ve never really been into the whole “giant robots clobbering one another” thing, and I’ve always been pretty awful at games that require you to do it (it’s why I’m still yet to properly give Zone of the Enders a full playthrough, even though I generally enjoy the work of Hideo Kojima). BT has a number of different weapon layouts that you can change to at the press of a button, and as the game progresses, you can collect more. Ultimately, success in the Titan battles comes down to you picking the right layout and having quick reactions so as to avoid the other Titans’ attacks.
If you get it right, then you can actually have some very enjoyable battles as having the different weapon layouts adds an element of strategy to the proceedings. My personal favourite was the North Star as it comes with a nifty sniper rifle that allowed me to take out Titans from afar like the noted coward I am, and it had a fantastic special attack that allowed you to float in the air and destroy everything in sight with a barrage of missiles. All of the big robot fights in Titanfall 2 can be a lot of fun, but they are also pretty unforgiving as the game progresses, especially when it comes to boss fights with the mercenaries. I must confess that I actually had to lower the difficulty level when it came to the final two boss characters because I just couldn’t get past them. Viper in particular was an absolute nightmare, and I was utterly relieved when that battle finally ended with just a sliver of BT’s health bar remaining.
However, I don’t think it would be fair to hold that against Titanfall 2 itself, and indeed I never did. Whenever I failed on a wall running segment or got blasted in a Titan battle, I always blamed myself for not being good enough as opposed to blaming the game for being unfair, which is how you know a game has got its difficulty right. One critique I would have for the story itself is just how cartoonishly evil the villains are overall, with them essentially being a big collection of clichés and stereotypes. The leader of the mercenaries is a gruff South African, and his deputy is a cold Britain, which are two of the most stereotypically evil accents you can have. “Oh well, at least they haven’t gone all ‘Evil Stereotype Bingo’ and stuck a German in there too,” I thought, at which point they promptly had a German show up (he may have been Austrian, to be fair, but they’re basically Germany II anyway). I get that having clearly defined bad guys makes us feel a bit better for mowing them down in large numbers in a genocidal rampage, but they may have over egged the pudding a bit, if I’m being honest.
The ending of the game is also blatant sequel bait too, and with Titanfall 2 disappointing EA when it came to game sales, we might never get to see how the story progresses. That being said, Titanfall 2’s campaign is done really well, for the most part, and I certainly felt like I got my money’s worth from it. There is something to be said for linear stories that are done within a reasonable timeframe. I know some people judge how good a game is by how open-ended and long it is, but if you can nail a good, tight story without overstaying your welcome, then I’m all ears, and Titanfall 2 definitely does that. If you can find it for the similar price I paid, then it’s an easy recommendation, and hopefully we do get a Titanfall 3 down the line sometime so we can see how the story plays out.
The Urban Dictionary defines “The Fitzgerald Scale” as “A scale used to measure the awkwardness of a situation. The Fitzgerald Scale is divided into ten subunits, called ‘Geralds’. Each Gerald is in turn divided into ten Subgeralds, which gives 100 possible levels of awkwardness. One Gerald is a commonly awkward level, where a ten Gerald situation would be a scarring event.”
Man, the atmosphere of that party was off the Fitzgerald Scale when we decided to leave