34th game played so far

Genre: First-Person Shooter
Platform: PS2/Gamecube/X-Box
Year of Release: 2002
Developer: Free Radical Design
Publisher: Eidos Interactive

Of all the first person shooters out there I have lost the most of my time on the Timesplitters franchise. As much as I loved the first installment it was still fairly rough around the edges since it appeared that they rushed in order to have it as a release title for the Playstation 2. For the sequel, however, they had plenty of time to iron out the kinks and add a lot of elements that would go on to become known as Free Radical’s trademark humour. With critics upon the games release naming it as an essential title for shooting multiplayer it is little wonder that this made the 1001 list.

Our Playthrough

In Timesplitters 2 there are three major gaming modes: Arcade, Challenge and Story… so we gave them all a good go.

Our Thoughts

So here we are. Another game inspired by Goldeneye 007. Well Perfect Dark doesn’t really count as they were by the same developer. Granted, but in any case we see another step in the game’s lineage. Probably helped by many former employees of Rare going to off to form Free Radical Design who were the brains behind this game. The sequel to the warmly receieved Timesplitters that improved upon the formula in every way. An odd order, but true, it has improved on the previous games mentioned here that I’ve played. Good graphics, good multiplayer, rousing music and what seemed to be the start of an interesting story and gameplay.

Whilst our 5 hours of gameplay did mainly focus on Arcade and Challenge modes there is a very good Story mode, but from my many hours of experience this was the weakest of all game modes, despite completion of it leading to a wealth of unlockables. Why’s that? It seemed fun to play through, and rather jumpy at times. Which is where I suppose I should mentioned the thing you can do here you rarely see in such games – coop story mode. Play through the levels together, rather than on your own. Yes the option of a co-op story mode is indeed an extreme in it’s favour. I mean there are very few games that can boast such a feature. Some games in the Halo franchise being the main ones that come to mind. As well as some RPGs that I can think of, my beloved Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale being the obvious ones for me.

I guess that the multi-player was just so ahead of it’s contemporary competition that it’s hard not to focus on this as being it’s extreme strength. The story line itself just is not enough to drive this game. You find it hard to connect with Cortez and Hart during their quest through history… even in the explosive finale. Something that was very well improved on in Timesplitters: Future Perfect where the story mode becomes such an incredible asset that it still pains me that Timesplitters 4 has remained in development hell for the better part of a decade. Everyone knows Free Radical games for their sense of humour (and their love of monkeys) and this is something that is lacking in the Story missions but is present in spades within the Challenge and Arcade modes. I guess that the increased use of cutscenes and witty dialogue with it’s fair share of idiotic puns (“time to split” anyone?) are what I miss most of all.

Wow.  In other words, keep an eye out – it may be a while, but we’ll be getting around to this better future game. Well, I always said that it was a better game. The book itself is a bit contradictory on the issue. Basic summary: The single player mode improves in the third game, but the multiplayer and arcade modes are great. And that’s very true, it’s addictive and fast enough that it leaves you wanting to play another round, helped by a competent AI that actually makes the game more difficult, rather than just being there to be slaughtered. It managed to fool me at least – and as is well known, I’m not the best at those things. The fact that you can play with a maximum of 10 AI opponents during the arcade modes bring a fantastically chaotic feeling. Also the variety of gaming modes within the Arcade section is great. Not only are there the typical Deathmatch and Capture the Bag modes but also aptly named Assault, Vampire, Shrink, Flame Tag and Virus. MONKEYS! Yes, yes, yes, monkeys. FLAMING MONKEYS! Purple monkey dishwasher? I didn’t spot that one. Nevermind.

Worth mentioning are the graphics. They’re not OMG brilliant as we’ve been before here – they feel off at times. Considering that this game is nearly 10 years old they are still very acceptable. It helps that the characters are stylised in a cartoon-like fashion which means it has aged far better than other games released in the same era. Unlike the first Timesplitters which looks pretty bad a few years later so who knows how it’ll look now. The feeling is that they could have made a bit better use of that – it’s trying to be just realistic enough that, during a few cutscenes, it seemed a bit jarring. Oh? The first cutscene of the game has two guys talking to each other. The movement seemed unnatural – not entirely a cartoony talk, but still mouths opening and closing without matching the tone of speech. I didn’t feel the same way, but fair enough.

I guess that this is something that we will have to compare when we get to Timesplitters: Future Perfect.  My only hope is that we don’t have to wait until game 500+ to get there. Agreed.  And I’m sure we will, as this game makes for some useful filler time as well.

Final Thoughts

So there we are. A nice follow-up on some of the FPSs we’ve covered before, with possibly the best multiplayer experience we’ve had so far It’s a shame the single player falls flat in comparison, which is something that’ll get better in the coming sequel to the game. The graphics are good – not great and dated at times, but more than bearable. And the music… I was jamming to it while waiting for Peter to be ready for a multiplayer match. Worth a try for that experience alone.

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