A fast First Person Shooter from Free Radical Design group.
Drawing up a contract with Rare, Nintendo assured to its 64bit console two titles that can be considered the greatest first person shooters ever realized for console: Goldeneye 007 and Perfect Dark. When was announced that Sony was going to release the new console, 4 former Rare members decided to create a society on their own, called Free Radical Design Group. The result of their efforts is TimeSplitters. A fast 3d shooter in which you'll meet tons of mummies, angry chinese chefs and hungry mutants. Oh yeah, I know. That sounds stupid, but hey, it's funny.
As many other Ps2 games released with the new console (like Tekken Tag Tournament, Fantavision, Ridge Racer V) TimeSplitters has been realized in a few months. And we must admit that these boys of the Free Radical Design Group did a great job, even though some minor details are there, just to make you say something is missing in this game. For example there is no intro movie in Time Splitters and the first thing you see is the option menu. So, forget wonderful CG movies, in-game cutscenes or other similar stuff and forget intriguing stories and characters with strong personalities because TimeSplitters doesn't have anything of all this. All these refinements require a lot of work and those developers simply don't have the time to think about them. But it's true too that if you're a lover of the genre you'll ask only three things to this game: action, fun and a load of weapons. And TimeSplitters has been expressly developed to give you all these things and something more.
When you start the game, you'll probably think the control system is terrible: but in less than an hour you'll get used to it and you'll forget the PC keyboard you used in DOOM or Quake. The left analog stick let you strafe, go forward and backward. With the right stick you spin and turn or look up and down. To shoot and kill your unfortunate enemies you have to use R buttons. L buttons will let you display or hide the reticule; the digital pad is used to select weapons. Anyhow everything here is fully customizable, even if I've found this setup very comfortable. You can switch fast you weapons and the fire buttons are in an excellent position and make you feel like you're really pressing the trigger.
From the main menu you can access two different game modes, the Story mode and the Arcade mode.
In the Story mode you play alone or in team with a friend. You'll travel through space and time and at the end of each level you'll get new characters with new, strange weapons. From this point of view, TimeSplitters is a great game. You're always rewarded for your successes and this is undoubtedly good. In a 3d shooter you usually have to sweat blood before you get a new weapon and shells, so you have to use dirty tricks like special codes ( does "idbehold" tell you something? if not you've never played id games...) to save your skin.
Nevertheless, the Story Mode doesn't convince me. First of all, in TimeSplitters there isn't a story. Ok, there are these TimeSplitters, wicked aliens who want to conquer your world and you have to stop them but..... what else? You jump from one level to another without any reason at all and all you have to do is to take a precious artifact and came back to the place where you started. The connection between the characters is the same that exists between Bill Clinton and Mickey Mouse and you really don't know who you are, where you are and why you are there.
When you'll finish a level you'll be able to play it in the Arcade Mode with the characters you've earned. And here the fun starts. This mode has been designed for the multiplayer. You are able to play wonderful games with three of your friends. If sadly you have none you can always decide to let your computer guide the other characters. The screen is divided in 4 parts and each player will be able to see its game in a corner of the screen. We've tested the game in this mode, connecting four controllers to the console and we didn't notice any slowdown at all; it actually feels like you are always playing at 60 FPS.
You can choose among different ways to play the arcade mode. There is the classical deathmatch mode in which what you have to do is to kill, kill and kill again everything you'll meet in the level. If you are killed you simply reappear in a random place in the level. In the Bag Tag mode you have to find a bag hidden somewhere in the level. You have to carry it for the longest time trying to evade all the other players that wants to steal the bag. In the Capture the bag mode each team has a bag and a base: you have to penetrate your opponents' base, steal the bag and carry it back to your base; in the meanwhile you have to to protect your own bag. Then there is the Knockout mode. Here you have to find certain objects and to return them back to the start of the level. In the Escort mode you have to protect a special item through a place full of angry enemies; in the Last stand mode you have to protect your base from several terrible attacks.
It is important to say that all these modes are fully customizable like anything else in this game.
For example you can decide to set up the realistic one shot kill option, you can choose the number of weapons or to group in team with a friend against another team; you can fix a time limit or a score limit and so on. Anything you can think of is here. But developers didn't stop here and they give you the possibility to build your own levels. Yes! In the game is included an excellent Map Builder. With this application you'll be able to create multifloor levels using all the textures used in the game. I've created tons of levels for Doom, Doom II and Quake with different editors but none of them look professional like this builder. With a simple selection you can change the setting for your level. For example you can build your level using Sci-fi textures and you'll realize something similar to a space station. But after you've finished building it you can always select a different set of textures, for example the gothic one, and your level will become a medieval fortress. Playing your own levels with your friends is great.
TimeSplitters, concluding this section, is really well designed and especially in the Arcade Mode this game is truly addictive. On the other hand, you have to play the annoying Story Mode to unlock all characters, levels and weapons. Controls are not very intuitive but they work well. The idea of the Map Builder included in the game is great.