The original “Titanfall” was a game defined by hype. Upon its initial reveal and in the months leading up to its release, it was declared as the “next big thing” and a “revolution” for the modern action experience. Indeed, the game turned out to be a high concept dream: two gameplay styles in one, one in which the player is a parkour saavy pilot and the other in which that pilot takes command of a massive mech called a Titan. This provided some of the jaw dropping moments in gaming, as few moments are more riveting than climbing into a killer robot that just fell from the sky and then wreaking havoc with it. Despite all the glamour and excitement around this new take on the action game, many felt “Titanfall” was missing something to keep players invested in the game’s ideas, and thus, it faded away until almost no one online was playing it. It seemed the new franchise was destined to be an afterthought.
Developers Respawn Entertainment pushed forward with the idea and produced “Titanfall 2,” a game which takes the winning formula of the original and provides that missing piece to tie it all together: a memorable story. The original game provided some story and background through multiplayer matches which featured some scripted cutscenes to provide context to the action, a move often described as both distracting and underwrought. Realizing their mistake, Respawn channeled a great deal of effort into devising a campaign mode, effort that pays off tremendously.
The story follows rifleman Jack Cooper, a soldier for the rebellious Frontier Militia, and BT-7274, a Titan who must designate Cooper as its pilot in order to survive after the death of their captain. The bond between the two as they battle against the evil Interstellar Mining Corporation is the focal point of the game, and it turns out to be one of the most memorable examples of the man and his robot trope so often seen in science fiction. Rather than possessing the stereotypical robotic coldness of the “The Terminator” or the quirkiness of “Star Wars” droids, BT is a unique and well written companion. He shows brilliant flashes of humor, clearly has compassion for Cooper and stands as one of the coolest characters in a shooter in recent memory. The writing behind him invests players in the story from the first words he speaks, and that fondness permeates throughout the entire campaign. When all is said and done, all of the characters are surprisingly what makes the story of “Titanfall 2” so engrossing and gives the game the edge over not only its predecessor, but many other shooters as well.
Campaign gameplay also serves as a great sort of tutorial for the multiplayer, which is still the shining star of the franchise. While not as complex and fine-tuned as other recent multiplayer experiences such as “Battlefield 1,” the “Titanfall” experience is easily the most exciting and enjoyable experience a player can have right now. The gameplay, a mixture of fluid movement and gritty mech battles, is the most rewarding system an action game has offered in a long time. Nothing feels better than stylishly defeating other players as a pilot and then earning the right to call down a Titan and go crazy. From the moment that giant robot hits the ground, player know they are in for a crazy ride.
Unfortunately, this game hits shelves in a time when bigger, more well-known shooters are surrounding it. In a particularly busy video game season, this loud and riotous mech battler may quietly slip through the cracks. That would be a shame, as “Titanfall 2” is one of the most refreshing and downright enjoyable experiences one can have gaming. There simply won’t be a more thrilling game out this year.