Words About Video Games

41 Games: Titanfall 2

This one took me by surprise. It's been a while since I've really clicked with a first-person shooter's story campaign.

Titanfall 2 starts out in fairly rah-rah military shooter fashion, with a training mission and a botched attack, but it soon shifts gears. It stops being about the war you're fighting or the factions in it (I still don't know what was going on in that part of the plot--and it didn't matter), and becomes about you and your titan.

Like many games, the climax hinges on the destruction of a superweapon that can destroy a planet, but it's that rare game that understands that I don't care about the fate of planets. I mean, intellectually, I do. I'm not a monster. But I don't feel it. It's too big for me to imagine. 

Instead, it understands that I care about two things: myself, and the personable walking tank (Titan) keeping me alive. The story zooms in on these two characters to the exclusion of almost anything else. It lets me choose the lines for our banter--how I will react to this machine, how my reactions will change. Critically, it sticks to that relationship through to the very end, tying together the physical, larger-than-life stakes and the emotional stakes perfectly.

It's dirt simple, but it works because above all, Titanfall 2 understands that if it's going to keep the action going, it can't delve into galactic politics, or complicated battle plans. It doesn't have the space to develop half a dozen characters. In its 4-5 hour campaign, it has room to tell one, simple story. And it does--with style and unexpected heart.

Also, you can run across walls, and there's a level where you leap seamlessly between different time periods to overcome obstacles and flummox your enemies.