Monday, 28 November 2016

Now Playing: The Crew

The Crew is an online, open world racing game that can be played solo or co-operatively/competitively with other players. Actually, ‘racing’ game isn’t the best way to describe The Crew. It’s more of a ‘driving’ game than a pure racing game. The open world of The Crew is an impressively large representation of the United States, allowing you to seamlessly drive from East to West Coast.

There is a story, of sorts. You play as some guy called Alex(?), who wants revenge on some other guy who killed his brother or something. But to do so, he needs to work his way up the ranks of a criminal organisation. This involves travelling to the major zones of the game world – The South, The Midwest, The East Coast, The West Coast and The Mountain States – and completing a series of story based missions.

These missions vary between time trial checkpoint challenges, 1 or 3 lap races, police escapes, item retrieval/destruction and vehicle takedowns. There’s not a fantastic variety of objectives, but by continually mixing these mission types from one to the next, and by introducing new car specs and environments, they never get too stale or repetitive.

That said, there’s nothing here that’s particularly great, either. The police escapes aren’t very exciting, and the item retrieval/destruction missions are more irritating than fun. The vehicle takedown jobs are easily the worst as you tediously chase down another car and ram it until its ‘health bar’ drops to zero.


Thankfully, the time trials and races are pretty good fun, and that’s where the game shines. Which is why it’s such a shame they only account for about 20% of the main mission content. Also, it must be said that the story of The Crew is forgettable and bland as f**k. It serves to point you from one game zone to the next, but don’t expect to be invested in the story or characters. You just won’t care.

Being a Ubisoft open world title, there’s a lot of side content to be found outside of the core story based missions. But like many open world Ubisoft titles, it’s largely meaningless and entirely skippable filler. I do like the way it’s integrated, however.

There are hundreds of free roam ‘challenges’ that you’ll find as you traverse the world. These may involve taking a stunt jump, weaving between virtual posts or simply driving super fast for as long a stretch as possible. Like the core missions, completing these challenges awards experience that levels up your car, as well as a part to improve its performance. These are graded on a Bronze, Silver or Gold system depending on how well you perform.

In addition to these challenges there are also points of interest to visit and secret car parts to discover, which when combined will unlock a special vehicle. And, being a Ubisoft open world title, there are of course radio towers to reveal the location of local side content. But is any of the side content really worth your time? No, unfortunately not. It’s fun to do the odd challenge as you’re driving from one story mission to the next, but that’s about it.

As you progress through the game you’ll unlock new car specs – Street, Dirt, Performance, Raid and Circuit, each with its own benefits, style of play and cosmetic customisation. Some cars can be built for multiple specs, but others may be limited to only 1 or 2. You can switch out specs and cars on the fly in the open world, and missions will select the appropriate vehicle for the terrain.


In terms of handling, The Crew leans more towards arcade than simulator, but even after sinking a lot of hours into the game and completing the main story missions, I still feel like the car handling isn’t quite as responsive as it should be. But before I start getting too negative, I have to say I did have some fun with The Crew. Exploring the map, completing the missions, attempting the odd side challenge and customising my cars was all decent enough to hold my attention.

Okay, now onto my issues with the game. The first is the UI, which is a convoluted and irritating mess to navigate. You learn to live with it, but you’ll never enjoy using it. The damage model in the game is horrible. You get these nasty white ‘scratches’ on your car regardless of where you take a hit. Cars also ‘self-heal’ over time anyway so it doesn’t matter how badly you maul them.

The music selection is awful. Awful. There’s a very limited number of radio stations with an extremely limited selection of tracks. I wasn’t expecting GTA style stations with fake adverts or talk shows, but for a game that’s entirely about driving, I’d like a far more varied and extensive selection of music to fill the void.

The car parts upgrade system is basic as f**k and is simply a case of parts with ‘+6 to acceleration’ and small stat increases like that. It doesn’t make tuning your car particularly engaging as you’ll always simply use parts that increase the overall car ‘level’.

The car cosmetic customisation fares better, but once again, for a game which is all about cars and driving, what’s available feels remarkably limited. The fact is, I had more fun tuning and customising my cars in GTA V than I did in The Crew. The damage model was also much better, as was the car physics during crashes.


I can’t run over pedestrians. I can’t run over pedestrians.

Buying new cars also feels like a grind, and the selection isn’t even that good, with many vehicles locked behind micro-transactions. The Crew, which is a game all about cars and driving, does a piss poor job with the things that really matter – car choice, car tuning and cosmetics. I could forgive the dismal music selection if they got the important stuff right. GTA V did this stuff better and that was just a small part of a much larger game.

Graphically, The Crew is a decent looking title and performance is solid considering the impressive size of its open world. But the game does suffer from some unfortunate server lag that can be rather distracting whilst driving. Also, as impressive as the open world is, most of it does only exist to serve as a long drive from one mission to the next, and you’ll always want to fast travel where available.

I actually got The Crew for free, so I suppose the question is – would I recommend paying for it? Is it worth it? Maybe on sale, I suppose, if the notion of a massive open world driving game appeals to you. And it probably is the best massive open world driving game out right now. But it’s also a game that falls far short of its potential and cuts too many corners in the areas that matter. Not a bad title, but disappointingly limited.

5/10

Monday, 21 November 2016

Steep (BETA)

Steep is an upcoming extreme winter sports game set in the Alps, represented in game as an open world you are free to explore. You can switch on the fly between four different activities – skiing, snowboarding, wingsuit flying and paragliding. The world is always online and very much multiplayer/social focused.

The core gameplay ‘loop’ is essentially this – you start at the top of one of several mountain peaks. You then go down that mountain either by land, by air or by a combination of the two. When you reach the bottom, you then fast travel back to the top and do it all again.

And that’s kind of fun, for a little while. There’s a nice sense of speed and freedom as you throw yourself off a platform onto a near vertical drop, before gliding, skiing or snowboarding your way to the bottom, pulling off all manner of cool tricks and jumps as you go. At times, you’ll wipe out, hitting the snow or rocks and ragdolling your way rather hilariously down the mountain. Which is also kind of fun, at least for a little while.


The scenery is certainly pretty, with some lovely views from the mountain peaks. Graphically though, it must be said that the game isn’t that fantastic. The snow is handled well, but rocks, trees and the few buildings that exist on the map are all a little shoddy. The music isn’t that great either, and rather irritating when it loops every time you want to restart a particular challenge or run.

There’s an emphasis on community content, with the ability to create your own runs and share them with other players, or by recording your runs and editing the footage into a slick video replay. You can customise your character with a variety of unlockable clothes and equipment, although it’s all apparently cosmetic in nature, rather than stat based.

But there is a ‘level’ system in the game, which you can increase by exploring the world, completing ‘mission’ objectives and participating in challenge runs – in which you’re scored by time and tricks and awarded medals based on your performance.

The real problem Steep has though, is that there’s just not much to it. There’s not much game here to get stuck into. Sure, it’s a large open world you can explore – but it’s a world of snow, rocks and trees. Once you’ve traversed one mountain slope, you’ve pretty much traversed them all. Whilst it’s fun throwing yourself down a mountain a few times, there’s nothing new or interesting to see.


To make matters worse, the world doesn’t feel hand crafted or tailored for the gameplay. There’s a few obvious ‘trails’ to follow in the snow, but there’s no carefully placed jumps or trick opportunities. In fact, you’ll often hit patches of hard rock or inexplicably placed wooden barriers which impede your descent, which makes the free roam less enjoyable and fluid than it should be.

And the same problem applies to the challenge runs – set courses to follow with checkpoints. But these feel randomly put together too, with no thought put into providing an enjoyable and challenging custom designed course. The entire world feels like it was procedurally generated, with no consideration to the core gameplay.

That’s what really kills Steep for me. If the game had a selection of varied, challenging courses, with multiple routes of varying difficulty and abundant trick opportunities – I’d be far more positive about it. But it doesn’t. So I can’t.


And unfortunately, the environments aren’t the only issue. Whilst snowboarding and the wingsuit are fun, and skiing is okay, the gliding is dull as f**k. It’s terrible. And that’s a quarter of your available gameplay down the drain right away. The trick system is also rather poor. You never really feel ‘in control’ of what you’re doing, as it’s more a matter of timing to stop performing tricks before you crash to the ground, rather than actively using combos to string different tricks together.

Speaking of controls, they feel too loose and nowhere near as responsive as they should be. And hit detection in the game is a bit of a mess as you’ll sometimes pass near a tree or rock and then go flying head over ass as if you clipped it.

All that said, I still had some fun with Steep. There are moments when you do find a good run in the open world and it’s a cool rush as you slide and trick your way to the bottom. But there’s just not enough game here to make it worth a purchase, especially not at full price.

Hell, even half its release price would feel a little steep (huh huh) as the entire game feels more like a tech demo with a few features tacked on and an over reliance on player created content to prop everything up.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Now Playing: Bastion

Bastion is an action-rpg by Supergiant Games, the developers of Transistor and the upcoming Pyre. Bastion was originally released in 2011 to an extremely positive reception, but I wasn’t as enamoured with Bastion as many others, which is why I was somewhat sceptical of Supergiant’s next game – Transistor.

But if you’ve seen my Transistor review, you’ll know I thought that game was pretty damn amazing. So I really wanted to give Bastion another shot to see if it could hook me now in a way that it didn’t at release. So has it? Unfortunately – no.

Let’s start with the good stuff. Like Transistor, the visuals, animation, music and sound of Bastion is fantastic. The world is interesting, with a subtle attention to detail, history and story. You play as ‘the Kid’ who awakens to find his world shattered (quite literally) into pieces. You need to figure out what happened and how to put the world back together again.

Unlike Transistor, however, the story isn’t quite as engaging as its premise. Like the world of Bastion, it’s a fragmented narrative, that despite the wonderful narration, struggles to make an impact until the very end. The story and characterisation is too threadbare and too shallow to illicit much of an emotional reaction.


Which I wouldn’t care too much about if the gameplay of Bastion offered more than it does. The game is split into small, separate levels that take roughly 10-15 minutes each to complete. There’s a good variety of locations and enemies, but the combat itself is rather one-note regardless of which weapon or ability you choose.

And the game does have a decent selection of weapons and abilities, all of which feel different to use, but sadly none of which encourage a different style of play. You’ll earn experience to ‘level up’ which unlocks slots for various boosts in the form of ‘tonics’, and you’ll find (or purchase) upgrades to your weapons. There are also ‘idols’ which add various gameplay modifiers and can be combined to further increase the challenge.

All of this stuff is fine, but the problem is, it’s all slowly unlocked as you progress through the game. Which sounds like a weird thing to say, as I normally like it when a game continually unlocks new mechanics and challenges as I progress. Let me explain – Bastion’s gameplay is basic to say the least. It’s pretty much just a simple button masher with little tactical depth aside from a ‘counter’ mechanic using your shield. It’s functional, but not terribly exciting.

It only begins to become more exciting as you unlock the various weapons, tonics and idols to mix up the core gameplay. But because each level (10-15 minutes) and the game (about 5 hours) is so short, you simply don’t have the time to properly explore or enjoy these new additions before the game is over. There’s no option to replay levels in a single playthrough. The intention is that you’ll begin a New Game+ with all of these items unlocked and ready to use from the start.


But the gameplay of Bastion just isn’t terribly interesting without applying the various modifiers – which you won’t have fully unlocked until the very end. When your game only becomes interesting to play once you’ve finished the damn thing, that’s a bit of a problem.

I can’t say I didn’t have fun playing Bastion again, but my opinion on it hasn’t really changed. Because the initial playful is so painfully average (in terms of gameplay) I’m not exactly desperate to jump into New Game+ even though I know it’ll offer a better overall experience.

This is something Transistor did brilliantly. It offered a satisfying first playthrough, and an even more satisfying second. Bastion, on the other hand, has an initial playthrough that feels like it exists purely to unlock things for New Game+. But I don’t want to be too hard on Bastion because overall, it’s a decent game. I just find its design so frustratingly backwards.

6/10

Friday, 11 November 2016

Titanfall 2: Multiplayer Map Design

I’ve already spoken a little about the disappointing multiplayer map design of Titanfall 2 in my review, but I wanted to take a more in-depth look and explain why, when compared to the maps in the original, those in Titanfall 2 kind of … suck.

As I said in my Titanfall Retrospective, Titanfall is a game of multi-layered gameplay and a strong aspect of its appeal is the interplay between Pilot and Titan combat. Maps in the original game were perfectly designed to accommodate both pilot and titan gameplay.

They did this by carefully balancing what we shall call ‘pilot terrain’ and ‘titan terrain’. Whilst all the maps had open areas and channels to accommodate titan movement and combat, they also featured areas and pathways that were only accessible to pilots.

This ‘pilot terrain’ allowed those not in a titan to traverse the maps with a degree of safety. Not only could titans not access these areas, they were often unable to target pilots moving within them. It granted vulnerable pilots the ability to traverse, relocate and evade.

The maps in Titanfall 2, unfortunately, strike a terrible balance between pilot and titan terrain. There are very few, if any, ‘safe’ pilot pathways to traverse the maps. All of the maps, to one degree or another, favour titan gameplay over pilot, and this is an issue that I consider to be a serious flaw in the map design of Titanfall 2.

The Amped Hardpoint mode, in particular, suffers for this poor map balance. On many of the maps, every domination point is either located within titan terrain, or accessible to titan line of fire. But, ultimately, all modes, even those that are less objective focused, suffer due to this imbalance between pilot and titan gameplay.

Titan domination is the key to victory in nearly every mode. The team that can control the titan terrain, effectively controls and wins the match. I know it can be argued that this was also the case in the original game, but it was never this easy.

A team without titans could still traverse the maps with relative ease. They could evade, relocate and strike back. But with some maps in Titanfall 2 featuring what I would estimate to be less than 10% pilot terrain, there’s very little opportunity for a team without titan control to respond.

The lack of pilot terrain also causes serious issues with pilot spawns, as pilots either respawn in open titan terrain – an easy target – or within a very small ‘safe’ area which is nearly always separated by open terrain, allowing titan players to effectively contain their opposition within a single location.

In the original game, pilot terrain was designed to allow fairly safe traversal from one side of the map to the other through the use of tunnels, narrow passageways and rooftops, all of which interconnected. But in Titanfall 2, the few areas of ‘safe’ pilot terrain are nearly always separated by open titan terrain, meaning there’s no safe way for a pilot to traverse the maps without continually exposing themselves to titan observation and line of fire.

Verticality was also a key aspect of the maps in the original. It allowed pilots to traverse the terrain far more quickly than if they were in a titan, often either above or below the titan terrain where they couldn’t be reached. But in Titanfall 2, the maps are far more ‘flat’ with many featuring only one or two levels, and both fully accessible to titans.

And whilst the maps of the original did adhere to the ‘three lane’ structure of design, it was never so apparent as it is in Titanfall 2 due to the verticality and interconnections of pilot terrain. Titanfall 2 severely lacks that key balance between pilot and titan terrain and as a result, it lacks the important balance between titan and pilot gameplay.

I don’t think the maps of Titanfall 2 are terrible, but they don’t serve the multi-layered gameplay of Titanfall. They don’t provide the necessary balance. Whilst their visual and environmental variety is an improvement on those of the original Titanfall release maps, their design is far more simplistic and poor in terms of balance.

The maps of Titanfall 2 are easily its most serious weakness, which is quite disappointing when compared to the original game, where they were one of its greatest strengths. We need maps with a split balance between pilot and titan terrain. We need maps with far more verticality, with multiple levels both above and below. We need objective and spawn points to be more carefully considered. And we need far more complex maps, with interconnected pathways allowing for fluid pilot traversal beyond the traditional ‘three lane’ design.

I would happily pay for a map pack with updated versions of all of the original maps in Titanfall 2, because as great as I think the game is, I can’t deny that it’s seriously lacking in a key area that is vital for its long term prospects and appeal. We need new maps. We need better maps. As fantastic and satisfying as I find the multiplayer of Titanfall 2, all of it falls a little flat without the maps to properly accommodate it.

If there’s one thing I’ve seen that even dedicated fans of the game can all agree on, it’s that ‘the maps kinda suck’. I can only hope the developers are listening and understand why.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Now Playing: Titanfall 2

The original Titanfall is one of the most enjoyable online shooters I’ve played in the last decade or so. Even though the player base on PC was fairly dead within a year, it was able to maintain a small, but dedicated community thanks to its excellent core mechanics and some fantastic maps. It was a game I continually returned to, despite its somewhat limited content and lack of populated modes. When Titanfall 2 was announced, it instantly became one of my most anticipated titles of the year. The question is – does it live up to my expectations, and is it a better game than its predecessor?

To say that Titanfall 2 is ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than the original is a little tricky because nearly every aspect of the original has been overhauled to one degree or another. This will undoubtedly disappoint some fans of the original, who may have simply wanted Titanfall 1.5. That’s not quite what we got. Titanfall 2 plays and feels quite different to the original game. If all you wanted was Titanfall 1 with more stuff, you may be disappointed.

Movement was a key part of the original game, and so it is in the sequel. The system isn’t entirely the same, however, with alterations to speed, momentum and the addition of a slide mechanic. Based on what I’ve played (40 hours, Campaign completed on Hard, Regen 2 Level 30 in MP) Titanfall 2 is actually faster than the original, but it does take longer to build up that speed by chaining together wall runs and slides.

And wall running is far more ‘sticky’ than in the original, making it much easier to traverse the maps whilst barely touching the ground – when the maps allow for it, at least (more on those later). I can’t really say which system I prefer. Both are extremely enjoyable in their own way, but I must admit that if I returned to the original game now, I’d probably find it strangely restrictive and slow compared to Titanfall 2.


The pilot combat of Titanfall 2 also feels quite different. It’s more fast paced, with quicker kills and even quicker deaths. There are various factors contributing to this feeling relating to weapon types, pilot abilities and map design. And I hate to say it, but it does make Titanfall 2 feel a little closer to a Call of Duty title than the original did, which you’ll either see as a positive or a negative depending on your preference.

Titan combat is also different, with the 6 available Titans having locked weapon and ability sets. Some may be disappointed at the lack of customisation, but I actually quite like this change, as it gives Titan v Titan combat a more strategic feel, particularly in the Last Titan Standing mode.

Titans, due to a lack of a recharging shield, initially feel weaker than those in the original, and much more vulnerable to pilots. But once you learn how best to use them, and realise how important it is to work alongside the rest of your team, you soon realise how powerful they actually are. And the game actively encourages team play when in and out of a Titan through the new rodeo and ‘battery’ mechanic, whereby you can steal an enemy Titan’s battery and give it to a friendly Titan for a very useful shield boost.

The only real problem with Titan combat and models, is how some Titans feel far more powerful than others. Actually, it’s not such a matter of power, but of the roles they play. Ion, Scorch, Ronin and Northstar all occupy very specific class based roles, but they don’t excel at everything. Ion is great for precision play and support. Scorch is a heavy hitter and great at locking down areas of the map. Ronin is fast and deals high short range damage, but is very weak at long range whereas Northstar is a glass cannon, able to dish out high long range damage, but is very fragile with few defensive options.

And then we have Tone and Legion which … are just good at pretty much everything. Short range, long range, high damage output, good defensive options … it’s no surprise the majority of people are rolling with one of these two Titans. I favour Tone myself as I was a big fan of the 40mm cannon in the original, but even I can’t deny that these two Titans are simply a better overall choice than any of the others.


These need some tweaking to make every Titan feel like an effective choice. And Titans aren’t the only things needing some tweaks. Pilot weapons could also use a few alterations in terms of stats. SMGs in particular are ridiculous. I loved using SMGs in the original game, where they operated as strong, short to mid-range weapons – as you would expect. But in Titanfall 2, the SMGs have insanely long range and even more more insane precision hip fire.

I like and actually prefer hip fire weapons to ADS, but it’s pretty silly being able to kill a pilot with an SMG half way across the map in two short bursts. Yes, it’s that stupid powerful. I shouldn’t get better long range accuracy shooting an SMG using hip fire, than shooting with an assault rifle using ADS. They seriously need their effective range reduced, or everyone will start rolling with SMG builds, just as they’ll all be rolling with Tone and Legion.

Which would be a damn shame, because the weapon selection and variety of Titanfall 2 is fantastic. Every weapon feels unique in how it handles and extremely satisfying to use. The only exception would be the LMGs, which I’m still trying to figure out what kind of role they’re intended to play. They’re powerful, but I don’t see any situation where an assault rifle or SMG would be any less effective.

I even like the sniper weapons in Titanfall 2, believe it or not. At least, I like the Double Take, which is a cross between a sniper rifle and a semi-automatic rifle. The weapons don’t just feel good to use, they also sound amazing. In fact, the general sound design of Titanfall 2 is fantastic – it’s just a shame the music is so forgettable compared to the original.

In terms of MP progression, there’s a ton of stuff in Titanfall 2 to unlock – weapons, attachments, modifications, abilities, boosts and hundreds of various skins for both pilot, weapon and Titan. The fan favourite Attrition mode returns, with the addition of new enemy types, as does Last Titan Standing, Capture the Flag, Pilots vs. Pilots and Hardpoint. Although Hardpoint – one of my favourite game modes of the original – has been revamped as ‘Amped’ Hardpoint.


And I can’t say I care for it in Titanfall 2 as much as I did in the original, as the new ‘amped’ mechanic encourages more static behaviour than I prefer. It essentially means that sitting on a point doubles its score per second. And if you want to play effectively and win, you’re really required to amp those points and hold them, but that results in a lot of sitting around and waiting when you want to bouncing off those walls.

The new game mode Bounty Hunt, a neat twist on Attrition, is a fun addition with an interesting risk/reward system. And then we have Coliseum – a 1 v 1 mode that’s more of a novelty than a serious addition. There’s also Free For All, but I haven’t played much of this mode and it’s probably the least popular based on population.

The maps don’t really feel designed for it, especially not the spawn system. The first time I played it I died at the beginning of the match without even taking a single step – the game spawned someone directly behind me like it would in a team based mode. And unfortunately, it’s not the only mode with spawn problems, as the game occasionally likes to drop you back into the action directly in the path of an enemy Titan or in the line of sight of multiple enemy players.

There are also some issues with the Titan drop system on some maps (Complex in particular) whereby you can aim at the ground to call in your Titan, and it’ll drop on the other side of the bloody map. Melee hit detection is also all over the place, leading to awkward moments when you’ll meet an enemy player and spend ten seconds frantically trying to hit each other before a blow randomly decides to connect. But like many of the issues I’ve mentioned, this can be fixed. And none of these are major issues – just annoyances that should be smoothed out over time.

What can’t really be smoothed out, is that Titanfall 2 does share one problem with the original in the sense that if only one or more of your team doesn’t quite perform, it’s easy to get stomped, no matter how well you play. It’s also common seeing people quit matches when they’ve barely begun because the enemy team take an early lead – but this just f**ks over everyone who’s left. I see this a lot in Capture the Flag.


And then we have to talk about people cheating/hacking because we’re already getting reports of it barely days after the game’s release. It wasn’t a major issue in Titanfall 1, so I hope that’s the case here, but I’ve already encountered a few players myself who are … questionable, to say the least.

Something else I need to talk about is map design. The maps in Titanfall 1 were fantastic and perfectly accommodated the multi-layered gameplay. Titanfall 2 … not so much. Whilst the maps offer more visual variety this time, and all of them are fine, none of them are particularly exceptional either. When the map most people are eager to play is a remaster of a map from Titanfall 1, that really tells you something.

The maps also feel very ‘artificial’ and over designed. The maps in the original felt like real places, as odd as that sounds, but the current maps in Titanfall 2 feel like fake arenas that are structured not as a real location would be, but as a multiplayer map should be. They’re also all rather flat, compared to the multi-level verticality offered by those in the original. And with only nine release maps, I’m already getting a little tired of some of them.

This certainly isn’t helped by a map rotation system that seems to favour certain maps more than others – I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve played on Exoplanet, but I’ve lost count of my matches on Drydock. Maybe I’ve just been unlucky.

And not all maps seem appropriately designed for all modes. Amped Hardpoint suffers in particular in terms of the objective placement, many of which are in an easy line of sight for Titans, meaning that on some maps, which team get their Titans down first can easily dominate and stomp the enemy team, essentially trapping them within their own spawn zone.


I’ve already hit max level in the multiplayer and ‘regenerated’ to see what happens. It’s not too punishing, as it doesn’t reset your weapon or Titan levels – you just need to level up to unlock them again. Overall, the MP of Titanfall 2, whilst feeling different to the original, having no truly great maps, and suffering from some early release balance issues, is still easily one of the most enjoyable, polished and tightly designed shooters you’ll ever play.

Titanfall 2, unlike the original, also offers a full single player campaign which is easily one of the best shooter campaigns I’ve played in years. It’s very short – about 5-6 hours on Hard (and Hard is something of a cakewalk) – but the polish and variety is fantastic, and the entire campaign is a perfect tutorial for movement, Titan classes and weapons. Whilst the story is fairly generic, the characters help bring it to life, and the gameplay is fast paced and far more free form than you might expect.

It feels like a cross between the new Doom and Portal 2, with open areas full of bad guys to shoot, but mixed with fun platform puzzles to solve. It mixes things up every level so you never get bored and it’s something I can see myself replaying multiple times. But as great as it is, I still wouldn’t recommend the game purely for its campaign alone, at least not until it’s on sale, as the MP is obviously the primary focus. But if you love single player first person shooters, you really need to pick it up at some point.

So does Titanfall 2 live up to my expectations? I’d say yes – but it’s not perfect, and it certainly needs more care and attention. I still can’t say if it’s ‘better’ than Titanfall 1. It’s just different. In some ways, for the better. In other ways, for the worse. But it’s easily the best online shooter I’ve played since the original, and despite releasing at a difficult time, I hope it can retain its existing users and continue to grow its community. It’s far too good not to.

8/10

Tuesday, 1 November 2016