TitanFall 2 PS4 Review

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Respawn Entertainment somehow squeezed together Super Mario, Super Meat Boy, Mecha and the sweet sweet feel of their first person shooters into one brilliant package. I was all but ready to write TitanFall 2 off after the less than stellar Tech Test; it wasn’t terrible but its incomplete state muddied the message Respawn were trying to convey. Movement felt off and the time spent in the Titans was far too infrequent. I wasn’t too keen on the Bounty Mode either. The brilliant Gauntlet was included but as a wall running novice, I failed to appreciate its nuances and potential. By the end of the second week of testing, I was left wondering if Respawn had lost the plot. I knew there was a campaign but with little to no word about its quality, I was struggling to find reasons to purchase the game at full price. 

As the release date approached and reviews began to roll out, positive word began peculating across gaming outlets and forums. I saw games like Portal 2 and Super Mario were associated with the the campaign. The multiplayer also received similar praise by the community at large with many claiming Respawn listened to the feedback and made necessary changes. After hearing so much positive buzz, I couldn’t ignore it and decided to pick it up on day one.

I started with the multiplayer which was indeed a superior experience compared to the earlier Tech Test. Framerate was much improved (but not perfect on the standard PS4) and the feel of the wall running was less mushy than before. I was also introduced to Attrition — team deathmatch with A.I fodder — for the first time and began to understand why people enjoy this mode so much. Straight forward team deathmatch with Titans would have felt empty without the A.I. They acted like fodder and a source of “food” for my Titan meter but towards the end of a match, they posed a threat to real player Pilots and Titans alike with the tougher Reaper class A.I roaming the battlefield. 

There are 50 levels of progress to go through and it took me about 25 – 30 or so before I came to grips with what TitanFall 2 was actually about. Call of Duty: Black Ops III and Overwatch (by way of Lucio) had wall running but they failed to properly train me to the intricacies and possibilities of jump jets, slide dashing and wallrunning. Black Ops III featured wall running and the maps reflected that. They had spots clearly marked for wallrunning but it didn’t feel like it was baked into the DNA of the maps. TitanFall 2’s maps were larger in both horizontal and vertical sense. Successful movement maneuvers enabled Pilots to traverse the majority of a map quickly and get to spots that just weren’t considered as possible in other games. In many ways the maps felt like Battlefield style maps where just about every roof, ledge and building was accessible within a set boundary; I wasn’t repelled off surfaces by invisible boundaries.

Gun unlocks, scorestreaks and perk analogs were to be expected in a game by the makers of Modern Warfare. What was unexpected, however, was the manner in which I unlocked said multiplayer staples. The Merit point system replaced XP points giving fixed rewards for completing simple objectives during a match such as inserting a battery into a friendly Titan or killing a couple of Pilots. They’re such simple objectives that I didn’t bother to review them prior to each match and just played the game. Winning obviously netted  anadditional Merit point but losing while successfully escaping during the Epilogue sequence also netted one. This system rewarded me for playing the game the way it was meant to be played and, as silly as it may sound, I have to credit Respawn for it. Other systems put players through tedious grinds for progress which dulled their appeal to me, TitanFall 2’s did the exact opposite. 

The way TitanFall 2 managed clans was innovative and encouraged group play. Being able to swap between multiple clan networks, create a party and open up to all clan members within a couple of button prompts is fantastic. It was only held back by the inability to join parties in progress and the instability of said parties. The number of times where one party member is left out in the cold while the rest of us successfully join a match is a growing concern. 

The single player campaign was a first for the franchise and while it was easy to picture a Call of Duty styled campaign filled with set pieces and explosions, it would be a disservice to a studio that has a knack for shaking things up. TitanFall 2’s campaign featured many one-off ideas and concepts packed into a six hour adventure. Nothing was particularly outrageous or mind bending if you’ve played Portal 2 or Super Mario Galaxy before but in the context of a first person shooter featuring talking mechs? It was refreshing. The story was predictable but the progression of levels was anything but — I never knew what to expect next.

The Super Meat Boy comparison stemmed from my time with the Gauntlet. Like Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare’s obstacle course, TitanFall 2’s Gauntlet was put in place to test the player’s skill and recommend a difficulty setting. It’s easy to fumble through it and choose my own difficulty setting but challenging for the “…Becomes the Master” Trophy gave me a newfound appreciation for the TitanFall 2’s mechanics and design. Placing in the top 3 was tough and I didn’t think I had the patience to shave off those seconds required to place. Thankfully super quick restarts and responsive controls kept me coming back and after about 2.5 hours across 3 sessions of play, I cobbled together this narrow victory. I have a lot of work to do if I wanted to challenge for the world record though.

It’s been quite sometime since I’ve played a game that was genuinely enjoyable from top to bottom. I would either love the multiplayer but find the single player campaign a let down. Or I would enjoy the campaign but absolutely zero interest with the multiplayer. Respawn Entertainment nailed the entire package and they should be commended for it. My favorite shooter campaign is still Doom but when the only reason I played the multiplayer was for Trophies alone, that speaks volumes about it. It also says a lot that every time I boot up the game, I find myself wondering if I should hit multiplayer or revisit single player (for Trophies but still). There may be meaty campaigns (Doom) or more engrossing multiplayer experiences (Overwatch) out there but there’s only one game that features strong efforts on both fronts and that’s TitanFall 2.

Verdict:
I love it

Ratings Guide

Checkpoint: TitanFall 2 Tech Test Edition

I was looking forward to the the TitanFall 2 Tech Test; it would be my first experience with Respawn Entertainment’s franchise. They made wall running a thing and ever since I played Call of Duty: Black Ops III, I’ve been wondering how Respawn Entertainment’s implementation felt. Apparently, if forum threads, I need to play the original TitanFall because Respawn changed the pace, the design and just about every detail of what made TitanFall beloved in TitanFall 2.

I felt the wall running lacked heft; the sound design in Black Ops III made it feel like I was actually running on a wall and not simply gliding across it like Overwatch’s Lucio. The grappling hook is surprisingly slow. I played a couple of rounds of Bounty Hunt and enjoyed the idea behind it but I kept wondering why the A.I controlled grunts were only accumulating in certain areas and why two sides are fighting over killing them.

The game ran and controlled well enough but everything looked a bit soft which is undoubtedly has to do in part with the 900p resolution. I got used to it but the soft image and feel of the wall running made for mushy feeling game while I’m a Pilot. I still feel like a tower mechanical monster while in a Titan though. It’s just a shame that they’re not coming in at a quicker rate.

I don’t want to pass judgement on just the first tech test (they’re holding another one next weekend) but I’m not enamored yet which is surprising to me.

My review of King of Fighters XIV will be up tomorrow. I’m still putting in hours into Overwatch and Doom with the latter winning me more and more with each passing level. I’m dying a lot more than I would like but a lot of it comes down to me trying to complete rune objectives while killing demons.

E3 2014 Day 3 Impressions

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Battlefield: Hardline PlayStation 4 Closed Beta Impressions

Electronic Arts unleashed pyrotechnics for this closed beta and I think that’s the most explosive thing about Battlefield: Hardline. The criticisms laid against are valid, it is very similar to Battlefield 4. The best description I heard was that it’s like Battlefield 4 mod developed by a very talented team.

The Blood Money game mode was entertaining but I can’t help but wonder how it would fare in a a game filled with tanks, APCs and generally more bombastic levels. Walls fells, glass shattered but unlike Siege of Shanghai, this urban sprawl that we were fighting through didn’t have a giant set piece to dazzle me.

There were minor changes here and there that I would love to see DICE bring to Battlefield 4 — but that’s all I took away from the beta. I just wanted to play Battlefield 4 and didn’t see anything in Battlefield: Hardline that would make want to pick it up.

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TitanFall hype ramps up with beta sign ups & previews

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I signed up for the TitanFall beta. I chose the PC version because I don’t have an Xbox One (even if I did, I would be a Gold member anyways).

The embargo lifted today and with it came a torrent of gameplay videos.

The more I see of TitanFall, the less enthused I am about it. The environment appears to be very static. Bullets and rockets spray into walls and nothing happens. Trees, towers and other obstacles are as sturdy buildings. Coming from someone who enjoys their Battlefield style of destruction, Titanfall appears to be a step back in this regard. I’m not expecting every single building to crumble but at the same time, I don’t want to see a giant mech thwarted by a thin wall either.

I love TitanFall’s movement options though. It’s what I was hoping for when DICE announced they announced Battlefield 3. I was hoping for a marriage between Mirror’s Edge movement abilities with Battlefield: Bad Company 2 destruction. Unfortunately they didn’t deliver on my hopes for improved movement but they continued to refine and improve their destruction tech.

I guess I’m asking too much when the game is coming to the Xbox 360 as well. And if they’re struggling to keep the resolution above 720p (it’s 792p for the beta) while maintaining 60FPS, I can see why they wouldn’t even bother with destruction.

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