Review by Matt Hellewell
Edited by Sam Hughes
Developer: Respawn Entertainment
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Composer: Stephen Barton
Audio Lead: Erik Kraber
Reviewed on: Xbox One
After reviewing the Titanfall 2 Pre-Alpha Tech Test we are back to review Titanfall 2’s new campaign in all its audible glory. The campaign begins with your character, rifleman Jack Cooper, training to one day become a full-fledged pilot. After your mentor is KIA, you are forced to jump in at the deep end as he leaves his Titan in your hands to complete his war-changing mission.
The music works well to embed you in the action, it adapts to player actions in a subtle sort of way. You do not necessarily notice the music whilst playing but this is by no means a bad thing, it achieves its goal of enhancing the experience. What I did notice however is how the music works with the localised sounds to add tension. There is a point where you are trapped and being chased down by detonating spider bots of some kind. As time progresses and you fight to survive, the music ramps in intensity. This is paralleled by the alarm system which ramps up in pitch, becoming more shrill. The effect had me scrambling walls to escape and I found myself tensing up as the situation intensified.
BT-7274, voiced by Glenn Steinbaum feels powerful and assertive but at the same time, trustworthy with some human qualities. The deep booming quality of the voice processing further sells the idea that this guy is big! The ability to choose your responses to BT were a fun aspect as I found myself growing attached to the big guy, being able to choose how I would respond made it a little more intimate. Jack Cooper, voiced by Matthew Mercer, played these parts well as the responses could be serious, or make Jack come across as a bit of a joker. It was also fun to hear some of BT’s responses to various comments, as it really added another dimension to the experience.
Referring back to the pre-alpha review, there was a distinct lack of ambient sound. Now that I have played the full version of the game I can certainly say this is no longer the case. The areas are rich in sound. You can’t turn on the spot without being introduced to things such as steam spouts or mechanical whirring. The fact that sounds changed not only by distance but also by perspective/player orientation was impressive. Not only did it feel more realistic and immersive, this kind of system is perfect for a fast paced FPS allowing the player to quickly determine the direction of threats. I was also taken back with how smoothly and realistically ambient zones transitioned from one to the next!
Another example of how the ambience changes seamlessly can be heard when BT breaks the windshield of a flying vehicle. The indoor sound instantly opens up with a blast of air; it is as if you can hear the change in air pressure.
When I played the pre-alpha, I mentioned that when leaving a building onto an open battlefield the natural change in volume and frequencies was awesome, it felt like I was stepping into that war zone, I could sense the level of danger had increased. The campaign offers a similar experience and what I noticed is that there seems to be a good object occlusion system in place. This basically means when crouching behind objects, for example, the sound of gunfire or ambient sounds is changed accordingly.
Your companion, Vanguard Titan BT-7274 is one of the Militias own Titan development projects, the IMC do not have anything like it. BT also comes with his own unique movement sounds. You can hear the hours of work that has been contributed to making all his joints and motor’s sound bespoke, I almost want to follow BT everywhere rather than pilot him, just to listen to all the intricate grains of sound. I mentioned in the pre-alpha review how Titans sounded a little lighter than expected. BT now definitely has that weightier sound I was expecting.
What is strange about this though is that after embarking into BT these sounds seem to stop, I would have expected to hear them with the appropriate changes the chassis would have on the sound, maybe BT just has great sound proofing?
Audible feedback is well executed when taking damage. Some low pass frequency processing drops out the top end in typical FPS style, but the addition of what sounds like breathing apparatus and a heart rate monitor symbolise injury and ill health, that extra kick I needed to tell me to get to cover!
Any chinks in the armour that were apparent in the pre-alpha have almost certainly been ironed out. Even though the game is fast paced, the level of detail is staggering. If you put down the grappling hooks and jumps kits for a moment and just take a walk around you can really appreciate the sonic landscape. Wall run your way through and you might just miss it! But hey that’s fun too.
I hope you guys enjoy playing this game as much as I do! It is hard to not be impressed by this game. I don’t want to give too much away but the time travel stuff is just crazy! Thanks again to the Respawn Entertainment team, your hard work is appreciated.
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The Sound Architect