This week, Zero Punctuation reviews Titanfall 2 and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare.
I know that historically it's Queen Battlefield and King Call of Duty that share the dogshit crown as they drift through the skies of the annual shooter season like two greasy zeppelins made of rancid luncheon meat, but this year, those two have undergone trial separation. All the signs were there; the way they both surreptitiously roll their eyes as they air-kissed for the photographers, the occasional half-hearted stabbing. They've had to face the fact that their mutual love of realistic violence fueled by politics on a level appreciable by frustrated chest-thumping cockslops just isn't enough anymore, because Battlefield got back into historical war re-enactments and Call of Duty got back into sticking rabbit turds up its nose. Happily, a much starker parallel exists in this year's shooter season between Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and Titanfall 2, so I'm going to do them together! 'Cause I'm trying to keep on top of the year's releases and I want to get the shooters out of the way so I can stop reflexively reaching for the iron sights button every time I aim my piss stream at a toilet bowl.
Tittyfall 2 is, spoiler warning, the sequel to Tittyfall 1. Basically the same, but with a single player campaign now. But I hope it doesn't expect to score any points for that, because selling Tittyfall 1 at full price without single player was like forgetting to inflate the bouncy castle, and resulted in about as much head trauma for me. Call of Duty, meanwhile, decided to start doing games about modern warfare a while back, but for now the series is like the brooms from The Sorcerer's Apprentice that kept doing that because no one told them to stop, and things have reached the inevitable conclusion with Call of Duty: Infinitum Warfare suddenly being IN SPAAAAACE! like it's a fucking Saturday morning cartoon adaptation. But the question you have to ask with sci-fi is if the story actually needs to be sci-fi and couldn't work perfectly well set in, just to pick an example completely out of the air, the First World War. Tittyfall does, because both the plot and the gameplay center around giant robots and jetpacks, and there weren't too many reports of giant robots in the Somme. Maybe they were all being very quiet, we'll never know. The main purpose of the sci-fi setting in Informal Warfare, meanwhile, seems to be for the sake of showing us people we have been clumsily assured are BAD getting their shit ruined in more and more spectacular setpieces, and the actual plot can be transplanted into literally any preceding Call of Duty game, because it's the same cast as always; a bunch of shouty interchangeable lads, all with the single defining personality trait of being very dutiful, like they're answering a call of some description. And in the final act, they all start getting picked off with the laughable regularity of a game of "This Little Piggy".
Both Tittyflaps 2 and Infantile Warfare open with a narrated plot recap for a plot that hasn't actually started yet, unless you count that fucking elevator music of a story Titanfall 1 claimed to have, I suppose, with a clear intention to establish the bad guys as BAD. Tittyflaps gives us the IMC, evil corporation oppressing independent planets for their precious resources, fairly cut-and-dry stuff, whereas Call of Duty: Infy Winfy gives us the SDF, Mars-based military nation that despises the people of Earth because question mark. Their leader is played by Kit Harington, and after carefully analyzing his performance in this game to ascertain his character's motivations, the only conclusion I had reached was that Kit Harington could be out-acted by a dying blobfish in a Kit Harington mask. Like a teacher's pet with an exhibitionist fetish, telling is never quite as satisfying as showing.
Tittyfuck 2 swiftly backs up the opening plot dump by having the main character, who had one of those generic everyman names that I can't remember, so let's just call him "Brian Twatchops", join a big assault against the IMC that promptly goes about as well as a charity barbecue at the home for very large, very poorly-trained dogs, leaving Brian alone and scared behind enemy lines with a faceful of dirt and and someone's shoe up his bum. Great! Threat established, protagonist sympathetic. Nice work. Meanwhile, the first we see of the very threatening SDF in Call of Duty: Improvised Wanking is when we ambush and kill a bunch, break into their house, kill about 50 more of them and smash some of their stuff, before getting killed ourselves by Kit Harington, which is as humiliating as getting licked to death by a mule. We then cut to our real protagonist, let's call him Barry Pisscup, going on about how the SDF must be taken to task for defending themselves against the previous protagonist and ruining his attempt to break his massacre record.
Compared to Interminable Whining, Titwank 2 is the better experience, but then, so is licking a used scouring pad. So let me clarify that even in a vacuum, like, say, the vacuum of SPAAAACE, Titwank 2's single player is pretty all right as campaigns go. Brian Twatchops teams up with a pilot-less mech to form a vaudeville comedy act based around pulling the "I am oblivious to your human sarcasm" gag about seven million times, but the AI comes to respect Brian's skills and their relationship actually means something by the end. Meanwhile, Impertinent Waffling also has an AI character, who is exactly the same as everyone else except he's got a traffic light for a head, and another character is really awkwardly and inexplicably racist at him for no better reason than so he can equally inexplicably stop being racist two missions later, which made me go, "Uh oh, I smell hastily-resolved character arc! Wouldn't start reading any long books, Mister Ex-Racist, mate!"
Not that the plot points in Breastdescent 2 are any less predictable, but at least there's a sense of growth and development to get us invested in characters. The problem with Call of Duty plots is that every character starts out as an off-the-shelf fully-developed soldier-type with super skills and various hitherto-unmentioned superweapons ready to be pulled from their arse, and the plot is just about giving them an excuse to use it all on something that will bleed or catch fire amusingly. Brian Twatchops isn't even a mech pilot when he starts piloting a mech, and has no superweapons up his arse, save a military-issue breakfast burrito.
The curious parallels between the two games continue in that both feature wall-running and double-jumping. But Boobytits 2 bases the levels around it, with wide open spaces, jumping challenges and hard-to-reach secrets, whereas Indecent Wobbling takes place in the usual claustrophobic ruined cities and military bases, and I think you're only obliged to wall-run maybe twice in the whole campaign, making the wall-running just another toy for a spoiled child, another lovingly-crafted wedding cake to mash up and add to the trough.
Breastmelons 2 has its issues, of course. In fact, the biggest annoyance for me in the big giant robot piloting game was having to pilot a giant robot. Which I know is like saying that I'd love sucking my fat grandma's arsehole if it didn't taste so horrible, but switching between the runny-jumpy on-foot controls to thundering about like your fat grandma's clinging to your legs makes for a jarring contrast. And since you only get into your mech to fight other mechs, you don't even feel more powerful. Your health bar is still disappearing like chocolate biscuits around your fat grandma, but what's Ignoble Weatherman got to compete with it? The token flying vehicle that controls like a magic carpet? The whole game's already far beyond fat grandma, not unlike the Atkins Diet.
- The Man from Mars who eats guitars: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
- I just don't see how anyone could look around Mars and think "Yes, our planet is far superior to one on which chicken nuggets exist"
- Fat grandma appears courtesy of the Federal Whaling Commission