I used to think that First Person Shooters only belonged on the PC but thanks to the release of Halo
last year, my perception has since changed. Many great FPS have come and gone in the console realm, Medal of Honor
, Agent Under Fire
and more recently, Red Faction 2
. Now Eidos has decided to re-enter the realm with the sequel to their of their hit and miss first person shooter, Time Splitters 2
you’ll travel to different moments in time to retrieve the time crystals that have been stolen by an alien race. Now instantly I feared for my life, the last time I played a first person shooter that featured time travel I ended up getting stuck with the debacle that was Daikatana
, I was already getting flashbacks. Thankfully, TS2
manages to avoid the crippling blows that eventually did in Daikatana
and in the process, deliver quite an entertaining experience that is worthy of finding itself in the collection of any devoted gamer.
Unlike Time Splitters 1
, there is now a full-fledged story mode that spans 10 missions over different periods of time. The first time I booted up the game I was given the impression that I would be forced to go at it alone. Thankfully it was only after a few buddies of mine had come over to help me test out the multiplayer modes that I realized we would be able to go at it together, co-op style. So thus we have the inclusion of what just about everyone has wanted, a story mode where two players can experience together. Thank Halo
for bringing this feature into the light but give small nods to PC titles like Duke Nukem 3D
and Serious Sam
for showing that this is indeed an entertaining mode of gameplay.
The control scheme utilizes the Dual Analog sticks and for the most part it works. The left stick acts like your feet while the right analog stick acts like your eyes; it’s a combination that basically mimics a mouse and keyboard combination. Each of the weapons contains two fire modes that are controlled via the R1 and R2 buttons while aiming is handled with the L1 button. Weapon selection is mapped out to the control pad but I found this to be far too clunky for a game that is often hectic and fast-paced. Most times it’s very difficult to switch to the right weapon when your enemies are raining fire upon you. Oddly enough you can crouch but you’re not able to jump. Not being able to jump really hinders the action quite a bit as it lessens your maneuverability as well as negating the usage of the splash damage effect on many of the rocket-based weapons. I found it to be quite a bother when I fell down a small ledge and had to run all the way around a level just to get back up a 2-foot ridge. I also found that aiming was quite difficult at times and it takes quite a bit of getting used to. The sticks just aren’t precise as I’d like them to be and I wish that Eidos had included support for a USB keyboard and mouse.
The 10 missions may seem like a paltry number but it is their expansiveness that really makes them seem like so much more. You can select three different difficulty modes at the onset of each mission, which one you pick will directly impact the route you take through each level. Select easy? You can easily miss out on half of the level. Selecting the normal difficulty mode will open up new paths that have be followed, thus making the levels more larger and expanse than before. Each level requires you to fulfill a set of objectives in order for you to move on to the next. Afterwards you’ll fight against a boss and then be transported back to the mission selection screen.
The levels are quite long, much longer than one would initially expect out of a game from this type. There are checkpoints throw into the level for a player to respawn from after they die but they are few and far between. Sometimes a mission can take 20 or more minutes to complete. Since you don’t have any lives you’ll have to depend on the respawn point in case you get killed. Often times you’ll be teleported back much further back than you’d like to be and all of work you spent doing in the past 15 minutes will go for naught. This especially becomes frustrating when you’ve finally reached the boss only to find out that you should have picked up a more powerful weapon a few rooms back.
The layout and presentation of the missions leaves quite a bit to be desired. Each mission opens up with a CGI movie that sets the tone for the mission but after that, you’re basically on your own. You’ll often be given objectives in the midst of a mission but often times you’ll have to discover for yourself exactly where or what it pertains to. Sometimes you may spent far too much time wandering around the levels trying to figure out exactly what it is that the objective is referring to. The storyline is also quite bad to the point where it’s borderline B-Movie quality. Blah blah travel through time, blah blah retrieve this, blah blah save the world. There’s little reason to care about what’s going on in the game, little reason to identify with the characters and empathize with them. This is a stark contrast to Red Faction 2
where most of the characters were memorable due to their distinct personalities. In Time Splitters 2
they’re basically cardboard cutouts from the Handbook of Generic Action Stars.
Of course the missions themselves don’t contain much to write home about. I have enough fingers on one hand to count the number of memorable moments contained in the story mode. Sure I was amazed when I found out that I had to take down a chopper with a roof mounted machine gun and I was bit frightened the first time I saw a zombie, but it’s just not enough. It seems like the game starts out great with the Siberia level and slowly degrades in quality only to rise again at the end with the Space Station level. Some of the levels were just bad and begged for more attention and variety, by the time I reached the Wild West level I found my attention wavering, craving something more entertaining. Had I not been playing through the game with a buddy of mine I’m certain that I would have found something better to play.
Much like sex, solo play is only entertaining for so long, it’s the multiplayer that really makes this game worth playing. As mentioned earlier, you can have at the story mode with another buddy of yours. This definitely makes the adventure worth venturing through and extends its replay value immensely. The story mode is nice and all but the meat of the game resides in the various multiplay modes at your disposal. There is an arcade mode that allows you to enter what is essentially a ladder mode. You’ll also be able to adjust the settings and create your own custom game. There is a challenge mode that will require you to complete a challenge within a certain amount of time. A particularly entertaining variant of this mode is a level where you are required to smash all of the windows in the Siberia level with bricks. It’s pretty competitive but in the end, some of them are quite ridiculous and in particular, redundant.
Most of the game’s entertainment can be derived from the usual assortment of multiplayer modes that have become a mainstay for the genre. Deathmatch, Team Death Match, and Capture the Flag are the modes that will no doubt receive the most play. Each of the modes that can accommodate up to four players on a single machine in addition to the AI bots. There are 16 levels initially available from the start and of them; about half of them are truly memorable. Of course this means that half of them are utterly forgettable and will likely receive little to no play.
There are some rather unorthodox modes such as Vampire, Virus, Monkey Assistant, Flame Tag, Thief, Elimination, Shrink, Bag, Bag Tag, Leech, Zones, Assault and Gladiator but they’re created for such a niche audience that I doubt most will choose to ignore them entirely. It’s sad too because they’re actually quite entertaining and include lots of thought and effort to assure that quite a large variety of gameplay would be included. Gamers will also be able to tailor the games to their liking adding modifiers such as one-shot kills, handicaps, powerups and radar displaying the location of your adversaries. Of course scoring methods and time limits can be set to the user’s liking as well.
AI is rather decent for a console FPS; the bots seem to exhibit human-like tactics in the midst of the action. They’ll strafe to avoid fire and run away when they’re overmatched. As you progress you’ll notice that specific bots prefer specific weapons and will make a mad dash to the area of the level that contains it. While no match for the AI displayed in many of the PC’s premiere FPS titles, it more than holds its own amongst console First Person Shooters.
The visual look of the game is quite nice with some particularly impressive special effects that will dazzle your senses. Each of the environments are pretty well designed and because of the time zones, feature a nice change of pace from one another. The interiors don’t fare quite so well, however, and feature some rather bland and generic objects and architecture. The models although fairly bland and forgettable, feature some of the most fluid animations in the business. There are plenty of death animations to suit the area of contact; even the awkward death by shot to the leg is represented here. I was pretty disappointed to find out that the designers omitted the presence of blood in the game though. Why depict lifelike violence if you’re not going to go all out? I did enjoy the fireworks and smoke effects though and I’m pretty impressed by what the overall visual package had to offer.
The audio portions are rather hit and miss. I really wanted to crank this one up at some points but there was always something preventing me from doing so. Every time I’d turn up the sound I’d notice some particularly nasty effects that caused me to turn it back down. Whether it be a grating weapon noise or a poorly recorded audio sample, I’m just not a fan of >TS2
’s audio effects. It’s not to say that all portions are bad, I’m a huge fan of the general gunshots but some of the effects just really turned me off.
I’m rather disappointed that this game doesn’t support online play. What’s even worse is that no matter how many systems you happen to link together you’ll always be limited to a maximum of four players. If someone is willing to go through the trouble of setting up four TVs side by side, why not allow for 16 players? It’s really difficult to play with 4 people on a single machine too as the screens tend to be far too small to see what is going on.
Will Time Splitters 2
change the way we look at our First Person Shooters? Not by a long shot, the game just doesn’t have the same impact on the console gaming industry as Halo
initially did. This is a great year for fans of the genre considering that they now have two top-tier titles to choose from. I still feel that the better choice of the two is THQ’s Red Faction 2
but if you have room for two on your shelf, you should definitely consider picking this one up. It’s not exactly a Halo
killer but it’ll be enough to hold you over for the rest of the year.Time travel getting you down? Then why not pick up PrimaGames' excellent guide that will give you the winning strategy in every situation.