Time Crisis 4 Preview
Who said light-gun games were dead? Don't tell Namco Bandai, because they're all ready to deliver another entry in the popular and well-received Time Crisis franchise, which many believed might not make it past the last generation. The series that introduced a defense mechanism - ducking for cover - to the relatively narrow genre is primed for a revival, and the PS3 is the target. Time Crisis 4 will be the good ol' light-gun game you've come to know and love, but it will also feature several enhancements and additions to the gameplay mechanic, which may surprise loyal followers. Don't you worry, though; at it's core, this fourth installment is definitely Time Crisis. The unmistakable style and action should be very prevalent, despite the fact you'll actually have a little freedom this time around.
Yes, you read that correctly. Shooters like this have almost always been "rail" shooters, in that the game automatically moves your character, and all you have to worry about is the aiming and firing. But in taking a closer look at the Guncon 3 (Namco Bandai's latest gun peripheral for the PS3), you will notice an analog stick on the side of the barrel. Hence, we have learned the player will use that stick to move about, allowing for a format easily recognizable in the FPS category: moving and shooting. But isn't that sacrilege for light-gun titles? That's kind of a drastic change, isn't it? Well, not really. We have a feeling your options for movement may be limited, anyway; we highly doubt the player will be able to move about as freely as he would in a game like Halo, for example. But then again, as we haven't been able to sample the gameplay in some sort of demo, we can't say for sure...just educated speculation on our part.
Time Crisis 4 will boast five levels, but that doesn't mean the arcade campaign mode will be painfully short. There is the possibility that these five levels will appear more than once during the story mode, and you will explore different sections of each as you progress. Of the environments we know of, there will be an office building (kinda expected) and, definitely less expected, a cave. These two areas will constitute the first couple levels in the game, and obviously, you'll be facing a variety of different enemies. You'll be pitted against heavily-armed individuals in the office building - some of which may even have grenades, automatic weapons, and rocket launchers - and in the cave, you'll be forced to battle nasty creatures called "terror bites" (taken from the name, "trilobite"). In examining these first two levels, we already find more variety and diversity than we'd normally experience in most light-gun games.
When fighting such difficult enemies, you'll certainly make good use of your Guncon. But amidst the constant firing you'll undoubtedly be doing, you'll also be doing a bit more in the way of defense, as hinted at before. And when under the warm embrace of cover, you can scope things out by looking around a bit; aiming the Guncon off screen will allow you to turn in a certain direction. On top of this, you may have to do a bit of babysitting, providing cover fire for your allies who are helping out a little. When assaulted on every side, you're going to need more than just yourself from time to time, despite your top-notch accuracy - you're good, right? - or your healthy inventory of weaponry. But when you do go in, guns a-blazin', you'll have the benefit of multiple firearms, ranging from regular pistols to shotguns and machine guns. And what about that rocket launcher the enemies have? Can we get that, too...?
How FPS-styled levels will work in a game of this nature remains to be seen, but at least Namco is trying a little something new. As fun as Guncon games can be, it's always a lot of "been there, done that," and it gets to the point where most fans simply move on to the more sophisticated games of today. No, we don't have a gun in our hands for Resistance: Fall of Man or Gears of War, but they're amazing experiences. On the other hand, nothing grants the veteran gamer such a wonderful dose of old-time nostalgia quite like the light-gun shooter, and Time Crisis 4 ought to satisfy that little urge of ours. We still have many questions concerning the movement (how much will we be able to move, exactly?) and we haven't had a chance to hold that sweet Guncon 3, but here's hoping everything gels upon completion.
Time Crisis 4 is scheduled to arrive some time this November.
7/7/2007 Ben Dutka