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Q U I C K - F A C T S:

Developed by: Free Radical Design
Published by: Eidos Interactive
Players: 1-16 (i-Link)
Official Release Date: 8th October, 2002
Console Formats:: Xbox, Gamecube, Playstation 2
Three words to describe the game overall: Insane; fun; good


An Introduction to Time

The original Timesplitters was one of the first games to be released on the Playstation 2 way back in the year 2000. Critical praise was quite sparse, and while many people enjoyed it's sense of fast-shooting, gun-toting action, it seemed a bit rushed. This is expected, as it was finished to ship with the PS2's release, and as a result was missing a few things that seemed out of place. For example there was no anti-aliasing to fix the jagged edges surrounding pretty much every object and model in the game. Nor was there a good story mode, which was nothing more than a simple "grab the item and get the hell out of there" while shooting various baddies. While the multiplayer mode was fantastic fun, the story mode lacked any real imagination.

This and many other problems have been taken care of for the sequel, Timespliters 2, which could turn out to be one of the best games of the year. Which isn't surprising, considering that the staff of Free Radical Design consists of ex-Rare Software employees. They have also had the time to perfect their game as well (2 years, to be exact).

And for all those people with questions on control issues, they are still just as reponsive and easy to pick up as the original Timesplitters. Who says a PS2 FPS can't have a good control system?

Eye Candy

The graphics are undoubtebly the first thing you will notice when loading the game up. They are absolutely magnificant. The problems of anti-aliasing and low-detail models have gone, replaced with some superb characters and game worlds. From the grey-walled, snow covered setting of the Siberian Dam, to the civil battlefield on the hostile alien homeworld Planet-X, you'd be hard pressed to find something genuinely wrong with the graphics.

One of the best aspects of Timesplitters that a lot of FPS games lacked was the almost complete absense of slow down during multiplayer. With the ability to have up to four players on screen at once, it's surprising how little it slows down at all.

All of the in game characters are very well detailed, especially during cut scenes where the lip sync is spot on. As with the first game, the characters have a distinct cartoon style look to them, in the way they move and look. While Timesplitters had this already by the bucketload, the sequel advances on a lot. You'd be forgiven if you walk in while someone is playing this and think they are watching a real cartoon on TV.

A Story Worth Telling

While that last sub-title may be a bit misleading, (the game's plot is rubbish. Timesplitters invade history, and you have to kill them all. YAWN.), the story mode is what it's all about. In the original Timesplitters, the story mode felt so rushed that it was like a multiplayer bot match. All you had to do was grab an item and get to the exit, which was either somewhere else in the level or back at the beginning depending on which level you played. But not anymore.

As before, each level has its own set of unique weapons and enemies to fit in with the setting, with two selectable characters at the beginning. While it doesn't matter which one you pick, some of them are much cooler than others. But now, the story mode is a rich, fulfilling experience along the same lines as the N64 classic Goldeneye. Which isn't surprising as Free Radical Design are just ex-Rare employees anyway. Now there are mutiple objectives to complete, that number increasing and becoming more varied with the difficulty level, and they all have some sort of background to the objectives and why you're there. That isn't the best thing about this mode either.

You get to travel to all sorts of different places in time, for example the wild west, the future, medieval times, the 1970s (you heard me right) and of course modern times. The story mode is very good, and some levels even encourage a bit of stealth, which is very different from that in the multiplayer part.....

Time to Die

.......which happens to be the best part of this game, as it was in the orginal Timesplitters. Really, if your going to buy this game, buy it because of this.

I have never seen such a good multiplayer mode since Goldeneye (dubbed Arcade mode). Sporting no less than sixteen different modes, with one hundred characters to unlock, and virtually every option changeable, this game mode really is something special. Couple that with virtually no slow down and the ability to hook up multiple PS2s with an i-Link for a sixteen player slaughterfest, and you have one of the best, if not THE best party based game on any console.

Every character model in the game is available, and more than half of them need to be unlocked in the story mode. This gives you plenty of choice over who you want to be, but that's not really the fun part either. Every single weapon is included as well, and some truly great maps are on offer with it. But the real meats of the multiplayer part are the different game modes:

  • Deathmatch
    You know the story by now. Everyone for themselves, pick ups and weapons are dotted throughout the level, the person with the most kills at the end of the time-limit is the winner. Simple.
  • Team Deathmatch
    Same as above, but it is played in teams instead of on your own. The team with the most kills overall is the winner.
  • Bag-Tag
    Hold onto the bag as long as you can. People take it off you by kiling you and picking it up. The person with the most possesion of the bag overall is the winner.
  • Capture the bag
    Same as capture the flag. Capture the enemy's bag and take it back to your team's base the most times to win.
  • Regeneration
    Same as deathmatch except your health slowly regenerates, resulting in a very frenzied deathmatch!
  • Zones
    Played in teams, a player must run over coloured markers to take control of an area. The team with the most possession at the end wins.
  • Thief
    You score points by picking up kill tokens left behind from dead bodies. The title comes from the fact that you can steal other peoples' kill tokens before they can get to them!
  • Flame Tag
    This is like playing tag, except the person who is "it" is on fire! Last man standing wins!
  • Virus
    Same as above, except you don't stop burning when you "tag" someone! Last man standing wins!
  • Assault
    Another team based game, where you have to attack or defend a base. A checkpoint system lets you start closer to the base if you die and are attacking (unlike Unreal Tournament).
  • Gladiator
    The player who is in the lead is more powerful than the rest and glows to stand out.
  • Leech
    Everytime you hurt an opponent your health bar replenishes a little bit.
  • Shrink
    Everytime you die and respawn, your character gets smaller. This makes it harder for other players to hit you!
  • Elimination
    You start out with a set number of lives and thus can only die so many times. Last man standing wins.
  • Vampire
    Same as Elimination, but you get some health back when you kill someone.
  • Monkey Assistant
    If you are in last place, you get a small monkey bot to help out with the killing!

What's even better is the enourmous league option. Split into three difficulty levels, with five seperate tournaments and each containing three matches with specific objectives for each one. You have another 45 levels of mayhem to get through there.

Sshould you ever to tire of the multplayer portion of the game (very unlikely), then you also have the challenge mode, which is unlocked later in the game through the story mode.

Monkey Madness

The challenge mode is split up into seven different variations, each with their own set number of levels to complete. The different variations are:

  • Monkeying Around
    A number of different sub games involving monkeys in some wierd way, for example having to sit and shot at them as they fly through the air clay-pigeon style! (Insert witty RSPCA joke here).
  • Glass Smash
    Run around the various levels smashing windows and varous pieces of glass with glass or high explosive rounds!
  • Behead The Undead
    Fans of the first game will remember this. You have to run around beheading zombies with a shotgun or sawn-off. The final level has the undead buggers on fire as well.
  • Infiltration
    With your temporal uplink scanner i.e. hand-held radar, you have to sneak past the security to get in and out of secret installations without being seen. The lack of weaponry doesn't help either.
  • Cut-out Shootout
    Walk around the wild west and Chicago levels shooting cut-out posters of people. Don't shoot the innocents!
  • Timesplitters Classic
    Very simple really: Get the time crystal, kill everything in sight and make it back to the beginning, just as it was back in the original game.
  • Banana Chomp
    A wierd one this. You have to run around pac-man inspired mazes collecting bananas. Strange, but utterly compelling.

Every single one of these levels, as the title implies, are a tad challenging. This simply adds so much more to the life span of the game, as you will spend a long time completing these. But wait! There's more!

Playing God...Kind Of

This game would be long enough if Free Radical didn't do the illustrious map maker. But they did. And it's good as well.

Sseeing as though Timesplitters' map maker wasn't very good, this version has been improved upon a lot, thus making it much better. For starters, they have managed to compress the tiles so they take up less RAM, thereby making the levels theorectically much bigger than before. It also has a much larger set of tiles than before, and the extra items and weapons offer more customisability than the previous version ever hoped for. All of the textures from the story mode are available, and even though you can't manually select them, the game still places them where apropiate. You simply choose the style of textures.

And while this is all fine and dandy, the real reason to be excited is the ability to make your own single player levels, with their own objectives, patrolling enemies, cameras and such. With the ability to make these creations seven stories high and twice as big as anything that could be achieved on the original, you can see how people are excited about this feature. While the objectives only amount to going somewhere, using something or blowing something up, it'a still fun nonetheless. And the ability to design a level where you raid your own office / university / college / school etc. is too good to bear.

Couple this with the option to share levels with your friends via the Memory Card, and all questions regarding the game's lifespan are instantly vapourised.

Go and Buy It

The best shooter on the console range? Probably. A damn good contender anyway. This is truly a videogame which deserves the exact same attention as other games such as Halo, GTA3 or Tekken. Now that they have had time to perfect it, they have made sure it is more fast, fun, insane, and downright lastable than any other game out there. And while they might not have achieved it, they got pretty damn close.


Sources:
Official UK Playstation 2 Magazine #25
Official Timesplitters 2 website

http://www.timesplitters2game.com

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