Titanfall 2 – More than meets the eye

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It doesn’t matter how hard they try but some people can’t get to grips with First Person Shooters can they? They’ve no sense of 3D coordination. They get lost in the maps easily and can’t navigate their way around. I was talking about this with my mates the other day in the local Spoons and one of them told me he wishes he could play FPSs but after 10 minutes they make him feel dizzy and sick, despite not being bothered by great heights. Ironically he’s a scaffholder.

“They’re not my cup of tea but I loved GoldenEye on the N64” said another , as he gulped down his San Miguel. “I just stick with Warcraft”

“I only play FIFA” said another. “I’ve played a bit of COD but I keep getting my arse kicked. Some people must not have jobs and play that all day”

Another mate of mine weighed in:

“I don’t really play much FPS games. I’m not into stuff about fighting dragons and finding fucking potions either. I like those rally racing games though. Really difficult to turn corners mind”

“I don’t know how you find time to play all these games” said another, as he cunningly introduced Love Island into the conversation. He then went on to talk about sodding Gogglebox. A TV show that films people watching TV. Yes, that’s how low mainstream TV  entertainment has become.

I made a phantom sigh under my breath as I stumbled towards the crowded bar to get another drink. I realised that trying to spark up an interesting conversation with my friends about the many intricacies of modern gaming is pointless. Its about as clever as asking Sub Zero and Scorpion to book an All Inclusive holiday together – it just ain’t gonna happen. I think that’s the reason why I starting blogging about games instead. At least there are perfect strangers out there on the internet who appreciate good games with state of the art physics engines, graphics and storylines.

They’re a great challenge are the FPSs. It all began with Doom back in the mid 90s really didn’t it? Then Quake came along. I didn’t have a PC until 1998 so I kind of missed them but I played Star Wars :Dark Forces which was outstanding for its time. It was the first FPS that gave the player the ability to look up and down along with a crouch and a jump. The cherry on top of the cake was added where they rendered 3D Stormtroopers  into a 2D engine. (Woooo, exciting times were the 90s).

After the milestone that was called Goldeneye, the genre continued  to flourish.  Then we had the Medal of Honour and Call of Dutys and I absolutely foamed at the mouth whilst playing the Killzone games.  A decade later ,On Line gaming has became mainstream and these FPSs transformed into cyber gladiatorial coliseums, available to anyone connected to WiFi. Personally I’ve never been a huge fan of online gaming. I’ve always treated games as an escape from people and a way of getting some downtime. Furthermore they become boring once you get used to the same old maps. The constant repetition of re-spawning grows tiresome for me. You shoot them, they shoot you. Its almost an online version of Laser Quest. I prefer campaign modes.

Over the past few weeks I’ve stumbled across a FPS which has tried to break the mold with something new. Its a game I thought I would never play. I mean, giant robots, are you for real? Its for the kids surely? I only picked it up a copy through word of mouth from a work colleague.

Titanfall 2??

I hadn’t played the first one since it was exclusive to Xbox One and despite Titanfall 2 receiving good reviews, most gamers didn’t rave about it. It’s  almost gone under the radar by most gamers since its release a few years ago. This has been mainly driven by  poor marketing in terms of the timing of its original release with other popular titles. Maybe the zeitgeist of the FPS gaming world wasn’t quite ready for an attempt at originality and preferred the bourgeois safety net of COD?

Its sad that more people aren’t playing Titanfall 2.  Forget what you may have heard about the first game and don’t be put off, Titanfall 2 is certainly by far one of the best FPS games I’ve played in a long time.   Not only must you alternate your style of play by jumping in and out of your Titan robot, you can also walk along walls, use stealth and in one of the levels activate a time shift and alternate  between the past and present (similar to one of the levels in Dishonered 2, another fantastic piece of art).  Indeed a lot of thought and hard work had been put in to the level design of Titanfall 2 and that alone would be a reason why I would recommend it. Its a welcome array of fresh ideas that keeps a players mind ticking.

In order to enjoy Titanfall 2, there’s no requirement to have played the original either. The original had no campaign mode whereas this game does. And its a very good one at that. It’s very reticent of a cheesy Sci-Fi B-Movie from the 80s that never made mainstream cinema release and went straight to video. And, like most of them that were discovered by mistake in the 50p section of a video rental shop and became cult classics, Titanfall 2s popularity has finally began to rise. Is the zeitgeist changing? Maybe in a few more years Titanfall 2 will go down in history as being the FPS equivalent to what BladeRunner was to cinema? A flop on its original cinema release but becomes a cult classic as the years go on. The narrative of the story isn’t great and in all honesty the campaign isn’t that long, approximately 5 – 6 hours. But I’d rather have this smaller quality time campaign than an 11 hour campaign of dogmatic repetitious  boredom any day of the week.

The synchronized bond between the main character Cooper, and his Titan robot called BT, can be felt instantly via their conversations and nurturing for one another. The robot BT develops a paternal presence over Cooper throughout and has a soothing voice similar to that of Optimus Prime out of Transformers. His attempt to understand Coopers slang words and sarcasm throughout the game is a continuous source of tongue in cheek amusement for the player. Furthermore there’s an everlasting sense of superiority and adrenaline when Cooper jumps into the cockpit of BT, linked up and facing large groups of human soldiers. There’s a balanced sense of challenge when fighting other Titans.

The graphics look rather splendid and the playability is top notch, every thing feels smooth and polished. It’s certainly a well rounded and fluid game.  Its not just the giant robot element either but also the smaller meticulous elements. The first aspect of the game that I remarked upon to myself during the first mission was how well the developers had made the water features look realistic. Whether it was the lakes or waterfalls, I was impressed how realistic the running water looked. Most developers seem to struggle with achieving this in games so that instantly stood out to me.

There’s a constant sense of progression throughout the game as the Titans arsenal improves and upgrades throughout. It enables you to switch from lazers and missiles in order to suit your adversary. I like the mercenary enemy bosses too, known as the Apex Predators, especially how they all had different Earth accents and this paired up well with their alpha male ruthlessness. Out of all of them I certainly found the airborne Titan called Viper the most difficult to defeat.(Almost impossible on the hardest setting) . The game was deliberately left open ended and I believe it opened the shell for APEX Legends but I’ve not played it. The online mode is good fun too. I like how the Attrition mode forces players to experience warfare outside the cockpits of their Titans; the main reason being its harder to spot a small soldier than a giant robot on the battlefield and it brings the feeling of David vs Goliath when you come  face to face with a death stalking dreadnought. The fight is of course evenly matched if you have scored enough kills to earn yourself the ability to pilot you’re own Titan after calling it down from orbit. (An event known as a Titanfall – see, it all makes sense now) If you want to be really cunning you can use your grappling hook and hitch a ride on an enemy Titan and rip out one of its batteries to weaken it before trying to shoot the shit out of it. As I said earlier, the giant Titans are easier to spot on the battlefield and you become targeted very easily. This forces the player to use teamwork skills with other Titans or at least change tactics when using your shield. Timing is key.

Its a great game that you will revisit again and again. You can probably pick it up on Playstation Plus now.  Try it, you won’t be disappointed.  To be enjoyed at it fullest, it must be played on the top 2 difficult settings however. The other settings are far too easy and makes the game a tad boring. By the time you’ve completed it a few times, the latest Modern Warfare will have hopefully came down in price! But that will have to wait for another blog…..

The Centrist – February 2020

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