Everybody knows that GoldenEye 007 is one of Nintendo 64's premier titles that was born during the first few weeks of the systems release. The game has also received numerous awards such as Nintendo 64 Game of The Year, Best Multiplayer Game of The Year and Best Console Shooter of The Year. Clearly there was no argument that GoldenEye's success came from Rare and only Rare who is Nintendo's only dedicated developer. There were tons of Sony fans aching for Rare to somehow create a game for PSOne, but everybody knew that it was pretty much impossible. Then comes the announcement that Rare will be coming back to the first person shooter genre with a spiritual successor to GoldenEye, titled Perfect Dark. Once again some Sony fans were getting a bit envious (if you will) that Nintendo is once again getting a great FPS title, and once again there is pretty much not a chance it heck that Rare would develop for Sony, although... Earlier this year a little English company who call themselves Free Radical Design, was formed, and they are apparently formed out of four former Rare employees who were some of the key elements that made GoldenEye and Perfect Dark what they are today. So when I heard that this company will be supporting the PS2 with an FPS title, I was nearly getting teary eyed, and the best part is that it will be a four player game as well. TimeSplitters is the name of the game, and to be honest it was looking to be one of PS2s most impressive projects and one of my most anticipated. So the release of the PS2 happens and TimeSplitters is released as well, and well here I am telling you whether or not it's a good game.
Without question the better looking first person shooter is TimeSplitters. Just like GoldenEye, TS features some incredibly detailed character models with good looking bodies and fluid movement. Structure detail is another big plus, Unreal had a bit deficient structures and could have definitely been done to look crisper and sharper, thankfully TS' structures are everything that UT' wasn't. They have paid great attention to detail and look very sharp, which really makes this game almost feel like a PC title. The environments are completely original and are completely varied from all of the other ones scattered throughout the game, so you will be happy to know that the atmosphere never repeats itself. If you don't know already, the frame rate is what makes this game not only the best, but the fastest FPS title on the market. The frame rate would gleam at a continuous 60 frames and the multi-player mode streams at the standard 30, which is incredibly impressive and shows that the PS2's 4MB Video RAM is more than enough to juice up a game like TS and make it run so fast. To keep the game this smooth at all times, didn't cost anything, as I see it the game is anti-aliased and shows no flickering, which is a remarkable feat to accomplish for a first try, Free Radical must truly know the depths of the PS2 if they were able to achieve what many other veteran Sony developers haven't. I must say that I am impressed with the visuals...
...on the other hand the gameplay would have been marvelous and even better than Unreal's if the camera wasn't so damn watery and irritating. TS suffers a bad problem with the camera moving too quick, which causes the pupil to dilate faster than it should and hence after that is repeated numerous of times, a case of headache, nausea or even a seizure can occur while playing this game. Now to whom it happens to is dependant, if you constantly play FPS titles on your PC or anywhere else, then you may survive the touchy camera in TS, if the last FPS title you played was Doom or Duke Nukem, then please I suggest that you'd rather pick up a copy of Unreal, it has a much better camera rotation than TS does. So if you are a constant FPS gamer than you may enjoy TS quite a lot, if you aren't but wish to play one then Unreal has to be your choice. Now although both games are fairly similar to one another, they would have been identical if they didn't have a Map Editor (TS) and the support for any USB keyboard and mouse. Now which is the better feature, casual gamers would say Map Editor, while PC fans will claim that the USB is better. I will admit that both are great, but I would have to say that the Map Editor edges the USB.
The editor lets you create your very own battleground, with multiple levels of elevation and the ability to customize how it all plays out. The Map Editor is very friendly and creating your own stages is a snap, you can set the scenario, the starting location and how many lives you start out with. A good and positive feature that boosts the gameplay a little. The game's Story mode is nothing like Unreal's test of balls, where you are thrown into a tournament and fight through over 30 levels, fragging the living hell out of somebody until his carcass explodes into bits and pieces, but TS isn't like that. TS is GoldenEye and Perfect Dark combined, but it takes place from 1935 through 2035, and every level you play is labeled with the year that it takes place. Every stage has a variety of different characters to use, some will have you playing as a Cyborg, another a police man/woman, or even a hooker, the time period will determine which one of the 55 plus characters you will play as. TimeSplitters has two basic modes, Story and Arcade, in Story you will play through a few stages, and completing it on all three difficulty will unlock everything the game has to offer. Arcade mode is where the Deathmatches, BagTags, Capture the Bag and Knockout modes are. Deathmatch, Knockout and Capture the Bag are self explanatory, but fewer of you may familiar with BagTag. BagTag is where you have to shoot the enemy who is carrying the bag, if you pick it up, see how long you can hold it without dying, longest time wins, it's very simple. Escort and Laststand are the other additions that will be granted to you in the future after playing the Story mode for awhile. The selection of weapons is quite good, you've got anything from a Mini-Gun, to a pistol, a rocket launcher to an M-16, good stuff, I just hope that the camera becomes more tolerable in the next outing of TS.
Not really as incredible as the soundtrack in Unreal Tournament, TimeSplitters still has a decent mix of techno with some bass beats to add to the background. The gameplay music doesn't capture you and get you into the mood as much as Unreal does, but it still gets the job done nicely. Free Radical should have taken a cue from Epic's Unreal series by adding some taunts that would occur from time to time during the gameplay. I would have probably raised the score a notch to an 8.0 or something along those lines. Some voices would have been appreciated and better audio would have been nice to keep the action intense, but I still think that the games audio is good, even if it is lacking in a few spots.
The control is completely hampered by the the faulty camera, this camera even made me dizzy, ME! And I've been playing first person titles like Rogue Spear, Half-Life, Quake III, and Unreal Tournament for years and I have never gotten as dizzy as I did with TS. It's a bit funny, but if you move you character a little bit slower you won't be irritated with the camera as much, you can slow your movement by using the left analog stick. TS comes with three pre-set keys and an option to customize your own controller the way you like it. Controlling your character is easy, and feels a lot like your playing GoldenEye for PS2.
All in all, I wouldn't say I'm disappointed with TimeSplitters, the only problem with the game is that its camera movement is too fast for the eye to keep up with. My grand choice would have to be Unreal Tournament, the visuals may not be as pretty but they hold their own, but the lighting fast gameplay is what gets me into the action and the audio is what gets me addicted. UT is also four-player compatible and can be played with a keyboard and mouse. TimeSplitters is an excellent first try for Free Radical Design, the gameplay is good fun after you play it for a numerous amount of times, and the visuals are currently the best of the pack, TS is by no means a bad or decent game, in fact it is very good, but the camera really hurts the game. Get both if you want, but get Unreal if you can only get one.
10/30/2000 Arnold Katayev