Game review: Titanfall 2 is a rock-solid shooter with some genuine surprises

There may not be much of a plot, but Titanfall 2 has more of a story than Respawn Entertainment's original.

Titanfall 2

Electronic Arts

PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Four stars

Robots just want to be our friends. Sure, there have been a few bad apples, such as the Terminators, Cylons and Ultron – but what about all the nice ones, such as Data from Star Trek and Rosie from The Jetsons?

BT-7274, the co-star of Titanfall 2, just wants to be loved. Granted, this giant bucket of bolts is really good at stomping on enemy soldiers and blowing up stuff, but he only does that to protect you, a puny human stranded on an alien planet.

Climb on board – BT has a cavity in his chest that just happens to be you-sized – and maybe you can get out alive.

This is not much of a plot, perhaps, but it is more of a story than developer Respawn Entertainment gave us the first time around, in 2014's Titanfall.

It is also a breezier tale than you might expect in this age of ultra-serious shooters such as Battlefield 1. The villains are cartoonishly over-the-top, while the protagonist – rifleman Jack Cooper – is kind of a wise guy. He and BT develop an easy-going comic rapport, and while their banter is not exactly hilarious, it does take the edge off the ridiculously high body count.

The single-player campaign in Titanfall 2 takes some much-needed breaks from the tired one-firefight-after-­another formula found in most war games. When Jack is not inside BT, he is equipped with a nifty pilot suit that allows him to run along walls and pull off mid-air double jumps. These skills come in handy in some cleverly designed puzzle rooms that could have been pulled right out of a Super Mario Bros game.

Inevitably, though, most of the campaign is spent shooting at enemies. Titanfall 2 offers as beefy an arsenal as any of its competitors, from pistols and sniper rifles to lasers and rocket launchers.

The fireworks really explode when you’re inside BT. Developer Respawn has broadly diversified the Titans’ skills and weapons, introducing six new robots to the melée. One can lock onto opponents and fire missiles at them; one shoots out fire; one is armed with a sword. It is the sort of diversity you might expect in a fighting game such Mortal Kombat, and the one-on-one duels are some of the campaign’s most exciting sequences.

Titanfall 2 also has the usual assortment of online multiplayer modes, including capture-the-flag team games and every-man-for-himself free-for-alls. But the combination of the parkour-inflected agility of the pilots with the heavy-metal thunder of the Titans makes such events feel less predictable than other online shooters.

For now, Titanfall 2 is a rock-solid shooter with some genuine surprises.