Not every experiment is successful. Some levels (especially the first few) drag on too long, a series of tedious Titan-on-Titan boss battles kill the pacing, and I wish there were more difficult platforming sections included. Also, the brilliant environments are undercut by some of the dumbest AI to grace a shooter since...well, the original Titanfall. But overall, Titanfall 2’s campaign is wildly creative when taken from a level design standpoint.
From a writing standpoint? Not so much.
You play as Jack Cooper, a young and untested Rifleman in the Militia. As Cooper, you’re sent to the planet (or moon?) Typhon, there to investigate an IMC presence and take out the enemy stronghold. Unfortunately your grizzled old mentor (since five minutes ago) is killed in the opening salvo, and you’re left to take over his Titan and “Uphold the mission.”
If you want any more background—say, “Who is the Militia?” or “Who is the IMC?” or “Why are we at war?”—too bad. Without even a “Previously on...” to tide you over, Titanfall 2 just assumes you remember its predecessor’s lore, which is maybe one of the weirdest assumptions ever made by a video game sequel.
Did you play the original Titanfall’s campaign? If not, I would’ve said you hadn’t missed anything. It essentially threw you into a series of multiplayer matches, except random voice actors read lines of dialogue during the midst of battle. At best, it was boring. At worst, it was incomprehensible.
But Titanfall 2 doesn’t really bother to bring you up to speed. It just points you at the generic rent-a-bad-guys and says “Fire at will,” filling in the gaps later with over-the-top villain dialogue—especially one three-minute long audio log (yes, it’s only audible if you stand in place and listen to it) where the IMC’s head General repeats ad nauseum “Human life to a certain extent is expendable.”
It’s so cliché as to almost be hilarious—which I think might be the point. All the villains are one-note caricatures, including an Austrian-accented mercenary named Richter who says “Don’t try so hard to be a hero. You’ll live longer.” A villain who parodies Arnold Schwarzenegger? Yeah, I think there’s a bit of Saturday morning cartoon-style silliness here.
Your relationship with your Titan is similarly cheesy, taking on a sort-of buddy cop feel. The writing relies a bit much on the overplayed robot-doesn’t-understand-human-idioms joke, but ultimately the partnership between you and BT-7274 is the story’s peak, with a lightweight dialogue-choosing system injecting some life into your otherwise-bland character.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.