Okay so I’ve been thinking on this for a while now and and wanted to share my thoughts. Also it’s just been a long time since I last created a topic. But what I wanted to discuss and put out there is how things go under the radar. Specifically video games and music which are my two biggest passions. I’m interested in seeing who/what you guys think is underrated or underappreciated as well. It’s always a shame when something is deserving of love and affection but doesn’t get the credit it’s due and that happens quite often especially today. So I have two prime examples of this, one of them has a cult following today and had a few hit tracks back in the day but is still generally unknown within many Hip Hop communities.
So as you can see by the picture this is Titanfall 2. This game is so ridiculously good and refreshing to see on the market it’s really a huge misfortune that has befallen this game. I want to go in depth on this so excuse me while I gush over this game and shower it with praise. It is easily the most underrated shooter of 2016 if not the most underrated game of that year.
Campaign - So this is one of the parts of big AAA shooters that has simply been lackluster or absent altogether. And I can really say that this is the best shooter campaign I have experience in a long time. I assume many people went into it thinking “Oh another run of the mill shooter campaign I’ll play once and never touch again” but to be entirely honest it’s just as fun as the multiplayer pretty much regardless of difficulty even if it is a bit short. It’s refreshingly unique and surprising considering the last game. With a universe just begging to be fleshed out and explored this campaign absolutely delivers. Personally I’d take an amazing 6 hour campaign over a 12 hour slog of a game. I went into it exited from all the praise I heard and came out loving it. It’s heartfelt even a bit cheeky at times but it’s enjoyable. I loved seeing the relationship between Cooper (the main character you play as) and BT - 7274 (your titan) unfold and develop naturally. There’s humor in a robot not understanding hyperbole and the ending honestly hit me with the feels. I had such a great time playing this section of the game I routinely go back and mess around. I haven’t had that same wonderful sense of discovery and excitement from exploring a new beautiful world since I played Halo CE over a decade earlier. It’s that good. The story is set up nicely being more focused on the relationship between man and machine and driving home some themes of pulling through for others and the sacrifices that go into war which is something I didn’t expect at all but it was welcome nonetheless. The levels are all constructed very well taking this games superior movement system in mind with plenty of walls to run on and tons of different approaches to combat. Little hidden collectibles are placed everywhere from simple Pilot helmets to audio logs that actually provide story detail in context to how far along the player is in the game. The campaign is extremely well rounded with nothing to complain about other than it’s length but that can easily be overlooked because of how awesome it is.
Multiplayer - Ah yes, the part almost every shooter exists for. Titanfall 2 has some of the most frantic, fast paced multiplayer action I’ve ever seen. From the fast movement and grace of an agile Pilot, to the lumbering hulking mass of destruction of a Titan. It’s all balanced and feels genuinely badass. Mechs have always been an idea toyed at in games but never really executed properly until Titanfall came along. It feels so natural, the Titan is an extension of the Pilot and it controls just as well even though the experience between the two is quite different. Pilot on Pilot combat is fast and frantic, with players leaping around like madmen trying not to get hit and take each other out as fast as possible. Titan on Titan combat is much slower and more calculated. You’re a big target and so is your opponent so you have to do your best not to get hit. You can either rush in and start putting on the hurt or you can take shots from a distance and strike when they least expect it. There’s also enough variety to keep things from feeling the same. Some Titans are slow tanks able to take a lot of damage and deal just as much but take some skill to get used to, there’s the middle of the ground accessible Titans that are relatively fast with medium HP and damage output, and then there’s the small light ones that can be taken out easily but can really pump out the damage if used correctly. All Titans are equal, except for Tone but she’s been patched so it’s all good even if she was OP for a time there. Pilots can fight Titans and Titans can fight Pilots. There’s an interesting mechanic that’s like a game of cat and mouse where if you jump on a Titan and rodeo them, you as the Pilot can steal a battery from the chassis that will take a portion of health away from the Titan and you can install this in either your own Titan or a friends Titan to help you survive and will also build up a small percentage of the Titans core ability which is essentially an Ult from OW or maybe even comparable to an Action Skill in BL. Each Titan has a different core ability all equally as effective but have different uses and tactics to using them. The weapons for Pilots are unique and varied. All standard weapon types you would see in an FPS game but they all feel different and they all fill a certain role whether it be niche or for general use. You have infinite ammo on all guns so no scavenging which I assume is to not break the fast paced flow of gameplay except for the anti Titan weapons which funnily enough can be used against Pilots with some skill. You have Pilot abilities such as cloaking, super speed, holograms, and even a grappling hook to name a few. All of them provide different styles of play and offer opportunities that can be shaped or molded to best fit a situation. If you find yourself to be a very aggressive player, why not take cloak to get right up in the faces of the enemies or if you’re playing CTF you could take super speed (Stim) grab the flag and get the hell out of there as fast as possible. The progression is also nice as well instead of opting for a traditional XP system you get these things called “merits” which can level you up and and buy gear for your character. It’s been done before but it works and the progression never feels slow as it always steadily moves along. There’s even a happy hour in which you earn double the amount of merits thus leveling up even faster which encourages daily return of players and keeps a nice strong and healthy community. However small it may be.
The Devs and Their Business Practices/Dedication - Okay so this is probably one of the reasons I love this game just that much more. Respawn Entertainment is formed form the old COD developers of MW and MW2 so it’s no doubt that this game will deliver. I have so much respect for the devs because they completely turned the franchise around. They looked on Forums for feedback on the original and made a checklist doing everything that was asked. The players wanted a campaign, they got an awesome campaign, they wanted more Titans, they got more Titans, they wanted more customization, they got MUCH more customization. An overwhelming amount almost. It’s so commendable because it’s refreshing to see a team passionate and actually putting effort into their games. And they continue with this passion and love even after the game is released. Amidst the landscape of gaming today with microtransactions and loot boxes they could’ve easily implemented these predatory practices and they didn’t. Instead they did something unheard of. Literally all DLC for the game as long as it’s non cosmetic is entirely free. All new maps, Titans, weapons, game modes and such are free! That’s absurd. They should be asking money for this and they don’t! The original Titanfall outsold this one 4 to 1 and they don’t even ask money for it. God damn, I’d be happy to support them. Even if it’s something as simple as bringing back a fan favorite map I’d gladly pay for it. They deserve it without a doubt. It really is a light at the end of the tunnel, a glimmer of hope that they are so passionately dedicated to this game and its community. They listened to all the feedback, and they fixed everything that the fans wanted to be fixed. And it’s not only that, they still continue to interact with their community. I remember going on and seeing on the title screen a new record had been broken for the gauntlet by a player and upon clicking it I was redirected to a YouTube video of that player smashing the record. They routinely have announcements asking for players opinions on a new cosmetic or map they’re thinking of implementing. It’s admirable just how much they stick with it even though it’s probably disheartening seeing as how EA completely doomed this game from the start by choosing to release it in between the two biggest shooters of that year, BF1 and COD Infinite Warfare. It’s a damn shame because at least in my opinion Titanfall 2 is far superior and ridiculously underrated.
Now the second part I wanted to cover was an album and music group that is very near and dear to my heart. That being The Pharcyde.
While today this album is highly regarded as the absolute pinnacle of alternative Hip Hop by Hip Hop heads it is still relatively unknown and is really the crowning achievement of the group that consisted of 5 members. J Swift who was the producer, Imani, Bootie Brown, Fatlip, and SlimKid3 who were all the rappers and vocalists of the group. While it’s been said that these guys all secretly hated each other behind the scenes they came together in the studio to release some of the most creative, funny, and heartfelt musical projects seen within the genre and certainly the decade. If there’s a word to describe this album it has to be “fun”. The production from J Swift is in a jazzy psychedelic middle ground with an old boom bap style that made them seem more East Coast even though they all came from LA and 3 of the 4 were originally dancers even appearing in the back ground of a Michael Jackson music video. They were all just teenagers that enjoyed kicking it and making music, able to make each other laugh with their songs and generally living it up while they were young. The album is a joyride from beginning to end which is a fitting description and may also be a pun alluding to the albums name “Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde”. It covers many areas and topics, from tracks like “Ya Mama” which is a series of jokes about ones mother over a devilishly funky beat to other songs like “Passin’ Me By” which covers the topic of high school love and having feelings for another person who is simply out of reach and learning to let them go. This track is the albums crowning achievement with a sample to back from Quincy Jones - “Summer In the City”. And can we just take a moment to admire this album cover? It’s so unique and it totally fits the theme of the group. Around the way nerds that got together and made some music for fun not knowing that they were creating one of the most musically creative and expressive projects in the history of the genre. After this album while their second project was without a doubt still good is was much more serious and not as tongue and cheek as this one. They never really got a chance to blow up and that can almost be their own fault. By releasing such a masterpiece of an album as their debut anything they were to release afterwards was likely not to stand up to this record. It’s just some loud teens that chill out and kick rhymes, unapologetic with their humor and swearing yet with the grace to laugh at themselves the whole time. They show their proficiency not only as rappers but as singers too. Most notable for both spectrum’s being SlimKid3 who often weaves melodic vocals into his verses and sings with an airy rhythm that usually sounds like that of a teen reflecting on his childhood and giving many tracks a much more light hearted tone. Fatlip on the other hand was rapping before any of the other members so his skills were honed to perfection. A perfect showcase of this is his verse on “Passin’ Me By”. So to quote a line from the song as demonstration here it goes “My dear, my dear, my dear, you do not know me but I know you very well/ Now let me tell you about these feelings I feel for you/ When I try, or make some sort of attempt, I symp/ Damn I wish I wasn’t such a wimp”. Honestly though it doesn’t do any justice just reading it, you need to hear it for yourself. It’s easily one of the best I’ve ever heard and as an insecure high school student who has often seen that one special person but never getting enough courage to ask her out, I can relate to this entire verse to a painful degree. This album reached Gold but I’m not sure if it ever went Platinum although it rightfully deserves it. I just feel it’s an important piece of music that isn’t appreciated enough for what it is. The whole album from start to finish is an adventure, without ever missing a beat jumping from track to track and theme to theme with such grace and natural flow it has a personality of its own. I might not have been able to explain it as well as other people who have done in depth reviews of the album for each track but it is easily my favorite album of all time.
So guys I’m really sorry for typing this HUGE essay on these pieces of media but holy crap I adore both of them to death. So now it’s your turn, what are some of your guys’ favorite underrated/underappreciated games or music? It’s always frustrating when something that deserves the spotlight never gets it. Hopefully we can direct some attention to those deserving