Time Crisis: Razing Storm Review
I’ve played several really solid PlayStation Move titles thus far; Sports Champions and EyePet are tons of fun and although lacking in a few areas, both take advantage of the Move’s top-notch technology and give us a glimpse of the new motion controller’s potential. Time Crisis: Razing Storm, on the other hand, only seems to emphasize Move’s current flaws and as a result, the game becomes an exercise in frustration and even futility. I mean, even after attempting multiple controller setups the Story Mode in Razing Storm remains borderline unplayable, and I could never get my gun controller to line up perfectly with the screen. The only saving grace is the multiple games within this package; we get stuff like Time Crisis 4 and a really cool little addition called Deadstorm Pirates. But I’m not sure that’s enough to save it. In fact, I’m sure it isn’t.
The graphics aren’t anything special but they’re not bad for a game based on motion-sensing. There’s actually a surprising amount of detail, especially in the cut-scenes of the Story Mode, and the bright, vivid colors found in all modes is quite appealing. There were some instances where I even said, “wow, that’s pretty damn good for a game like this!” Of course, the arcade-based modes that will remind you of any Time Crisis you might’ve played in the past aren’t too intricate, but it’s clear Namco put a ton of effort into that Story…too bad the visuals are the only pleasant part of that experience. The special effects are a little repetitive and aren’t exactly loaded with highly accomplished particle effects but then again, anyone familiar with this franchise won’t be disappointed. The graphics are about what you’d expect, with a few nice surprises tossed in.
The sound benefits from sharp, crisp gunplay effects and a soundtrack that fits the hectic, ceaseless action. They went and implemented some hardcore metal tracks for some of the cut-scenes in all modes, which I sort of like, and the music for most any mode enhances the atmosphere. Of course, as you might expect, the voice acting is mediocre, although it can range from dreadful to halfway decent. Again, it depends upon which game and which mode you select but in general, the effects and soundtrack selection are bonuses. The balance is all over the place, though, and I suppose it’s beating a dead horse to use the word “repetitive” again, but there’s no better description. Usually, I’m forgiving when it comes to this trait provided it doesn’t annoy me when playing but in truth, everything – including the sound – started to annoy me after even a short time with Razing Storm.
If you’ve played a Time Crisis before, either in the arcade or at home with a gun accessory of some kind, you probably don’t need much in the way of gameplay explanation. But let’s straighten out the control options: you need the Move controller, of course, but beyond that, it’s very much up to you. You can either use the regular Dual Shock 3 wireless controller or the Navigation controller to handle movement (which is only required for the Story Mode), and you can pick up a gun accessory for Move. I used the Precision Shot 3 with the optional grip, where the Nav controller actually resides. So if you can picture a submachine gun with one hand on the handle and the second hand on the grip just below the barrel, that’s what it looked like; this allowed the analog on the Nav controller to be naturally near the thumb of my left hand.
After selecting and calibrating the controllers you wish to use, it’s time to pick a game: there’s Razing Storm with several modes, along with the arcade classic, Time Crisis 4, and a special addition called Deadstorm Pirates. The latter is actually one of the more entertaining options, as it’s all about nailing skeleton pirates and ghost ships. It’s not a full game in and of itself but it’s still pretty fun, and because you don’t have to actually move, it works out okay. The problem comes when you do have to use an analog to control movement, and it’s not due to the analog itself, per se. See, you move around with the analog, which is fine, but you direct that movement via the Move stick or in this case, by aiming the gun. I’ve tried doing this without the gun, but that didn’t help much; the bottom line is that it just doesn’t work. The Move is far too sensitive.
Aiming where you wish to go and then moving isn’t natural, either. Any tiny twitch of the gun/Move could cause you to lose your bearings, and although I did finally manage to settle on a way to make it work, it was still frustrating. Plus, even after turning the sensitivity all the way down, it was still extremely difficult to target enemies and when you toss in the weird and incredibly jumpy move mechanic, you get a Story Mode that just flat-out fails before it gets started. You won’t believe how long I had to play before I could even get through the first few sections. I suppose it’s good news to say that every other game and mode is a standard rails-shooter setup, where you don’t have to move. That is a bonus because I could just jump across to the Arcade Mode in Razing Storm or Time Crisis 4, and garner some relatively entertaining action.
But even then, I never really felt as if I were aiming at the targets on the screen. I was only just trying to find the red targeting reticule to settle it over a desired target. I tried holding the gun in a bunch of different ways; including peering right down the sight, but the result was still unsatisfactory in my eyes. Lastly, it’s just way too easy to lose track of the small red reticule in the midst of particularly insane encounters, and it doesn’t help that danger points are marked with big red spots, in which your reticule essentially disappears. Oh, and you sometimes have to use other buttons on the Move controller; for instance, X reloads but look where the X button is on the Move wand…then picture it lying down in the barrel of a gun accessory; see how you have to reach up with your left hand to press any button on the Move? The Nav controller is only for movement so that doesn’t assist with essential button presses.
I like the assortment of weapons, I like the fact that Namco put a lot of effort into how the Story Mode looks and sounds, and I like the inclusion of other shooting games and various modes. Some of the technical aspects did surprise me (even if they all sort of melted into an average presentation), the hardcore metal tracks were a nice touch, and the nonstop action is…well, vintage Time Crisis. But the Story Mode is just plain broken; directing with the Move and actually moving with either the left analog stick of the wireless DS3 or the Nav controller doesn’t work well at all. It’s just unbelievably irritating. Move is an amazingly sensitive device and when it comes to a game like Razing Storm, we don’t feel as if we have pinpoint control; we feel that if we even twitch a finger in the wrong direction, we’re looking at the ground or the sky.
I tamed and refined my movements after a while, but it just isn’t worth it, primarily because the end result isn’t much better. Sorry, but I’m calling “pass” on this one.
The Good: Classic, ceaseless Time Crisis action. Multiple games and multiple modes. Solid weapon and environmental variety. A few nice surprises in the graphics and sound categories.
The Bad: Story Mode is just plain broken due to the movement mechanic. Move proves too sensitive too often. Easy to lose targeting reticule amidst the chaos in Arcade modes. Tough to feel comfortable with any button/control setup. Mostly poor voice acting.
The Ugly: Manual movement controls. Awful.
10/23/2010 Ben Dutka