TimeSplitters: Future Perfect
Review by neothe0ne
"Third time's the biggest charm!"
Dead-center aiming reticule, making sniping and such MUCH easier!
Story mode is very epic and much improved (strangely, TimeSplitters aren't a part of the big picture)
Health and ammo spawns in story, making it much easier
Multiple checkpoints in story, making it possible to finish
Map Maker is much more powerful
More characters, cheats, and guns
Addition of vehicles
Addition of melee
Secondary fire is now a toggle button, allowing you to use grenades even while dual wielding
Fully customizable bots, match settings, and controls
Detailed kill/score results at end of matches
Amazing physics system
Lots of in-game cheats to alter your shooting experience
Graphics are much better
Endless replay value
Occasional freezes and hangs
Music is plagued with pops and hiccups (story songs in both channels, all other songs just in the left channel)
Unexcusable absence of Flame Tag
Lack of Arcade Leagues
Lack of vehicles (both multiplayer vehicles are gunless)
Can no longer switch weapons while paused
Can't dual wield different weapons (same system as past)
No online features in GC version
A lot of wasted potential (vehicles and time grenades)
You can only have eight max people in Mapmaker maps
"EA Games Challenge Everything zwap!" plays every time you turn on the game
TimeSplitters was one of the lesser known FPS games. Not many people were aware that Free Radical Design, who developed the game, comprised of the vast majority of the teams who worked on GoldenEye and Perfect Dark, the forefathers of the modern console FPS. Free Radical left Eidos before the publication of their third game in the series, and sought the unlikely and much despised company Electronic Arts. Despite being published by a company known for average games, Free Radical finally given TimeSplitters fans reason to rejoice, for their third game truely wipes away all competition.
TimeSplitters: Future Perfect has greatly improved visuals and audibles. The graphics are smooth, and the textures look great (except for some skies). The character models are very well done, and the blood and gore are very realistic. Your screen will still bob up and down with your character's breaths, and the graphics will shift cookedly like before, but when you're moving everything is very smooth. The sound effects are very good and sound like guns. Voice acting, while cheesy, is surprisingly good. The music in TimeSplitters: Future Perfect is very fitting for each mission and map, although most of the soundtrack is nowhere near as good as TS2's (mainly because many songs are simply ambiences now). The Spaceport music is an awesome piece of techno, though. A huge problem with the music is frequent hiccups and pops. Hiccups occur at the same places, ALWAYS in the left channel, and the two discs I've tried had no scratches or smudges to cause them. Only the Main Menu music is free of hiccups, but the menu music and just about every other piece of music in the game has inaccurate loop points, resulting in skips of the music at the end of each loop! However, if you're not paused and don't have sound effects turned off, you would never notice anything wrong, so this is only a minor flaw in most cases.
The controls of TimeSplitters: Future Perfect are very, very good. Free Radical did a very good job of fitting all the controls of a modern FPS onto the limited buttons of the GameCube controller. R is shoot for both guns, and L toggles the aiming reticule. Z is for grenades, and can be used even while dual-wielding smaller guns. B is duck, Y is reload, and X is melee. Up on the D-pad toggles your weapon's secondary fire, and down on the D-pad changes your grenades. While the controls may be awkward to some people, you can easily customize your controls in your Profile's preferences. You can turn on or off invert look, auto aim, auto lookahead, turning sensibility, and can choose whether or not the aiming reticule is always on or only on when you bring up the L trigger.
The guns in TimeSplitters: Future Perfect are very cool. There are a handful of pistols, all dual-wieldable, and they have scope add-ons for secondary fire. One nice change is that you can fire pistols as fast as you press the shoulder trigger, instead of the fixed fire rate of pistols in TS2. Most of the old guns are back but have different graphics and fire speeds. For example, the Rocket Launcher reloads much more slowly than before which makes it much less useful than the Rocket Launcher in TS2, but the Plasma Autorifle fires faster and overheats slower than the one in TS2. The Soviet Rifle and SBP500 are no longer dual-wieldable as they're very big, and the Soviet Rifle and Plasma Autorifle no longer have secondary fires as grenades, as the Grenades and Plasma Grenades are now individual weapons. The old weapons are all generally better than before, however, but the new weapons are to die for. One of the major highlights is the Baseball Bat, which is a very hard-packing melee weapon. There's a Ghost Gun, which is a lot like an ElectroTool but is used on ghosts, not robots, and an Injector to blow people up from the inside. The Flare Gun is like a rocket-launcher pistol, and there are many other sweet weapons. The Monkey Gun is like a SBP500 from TS2, and when you press the trigger, it fires a burst of machine gun fire for a few seconds, great for lazy people. Each gun has a different melee move, but the best weapon in firing power and melee attack is definitely the Double Machine Guns. They fire very fast and are very powerful, have plentiful ammo, and have the best melee hack. There are 6 slots for each weapon set, and you can edit them without deleting all the way back to slot one.
Unfortunately, the greatest weapons in the game with the greatest potential were wasted. Time Grenades, which slow down time in the blast radius, only appear in the two U-Genix missions, and aren't available in multiplayer. While it's understandable how Time Grenades would unbalance a deathmatch, Free Radical should still have given us the option to use it. Another wasted potential involves the vehicles. The only vehicle in a multiplayer map is the Buggy, the two-seat unarmed truck. The other vehicle placeable in some mapmaker tilesets is the futuristic buggy, which is also unarmed, but travels much faster than the other buggy. These vehicles' only purpose is to travel faster and to run people over. The truck with a gun turret on the back and the heavy tank aren't available in multiplayer, which is a shame. Note that vehicles can't be destroyed.
The story campaign has been greatly improved. There are thirteen missions in all; longer than TS2, but shorter than TS1. Each mission features multiple checkpoints instead of a single checkpoint, which makes the story much easier to finish. Health, shields, and ammo are also placed throughout the missions, and some even spawn every so often, which makes Hard missions possible, unlike TS2's hard missions. The story campaign features a lot of cutscenes, speech, comic relief, weapons, vehicles, and everything that belongs in a story. Every mission gives you at least one ally of some sort at some point in time, and in several missions you play as multiple Cortez's to save yourself. The first mission features Cortez hanging upside down from a shipwreck, rescued by marines trying to return him to headquarters. The first mission features a lot of ticked off TimeSplitters; strangely, this mission (and the repeat of this mission where you play as Future Cortez) is the only one featuring TimeSplitters. The last mission is the ONLY mission to feature a Time Crystal, and it doesn't trigger TimeSplitter assaults. This is another huge difference from TS2's campaign, but also for the better. Another difference is the seperation of single player completion and co-op completion. While the campaigns are almost entirely the same, the record for your player progress is kept seperate, and have different rewards.
TimeSplitters: Future Perfect also features the Arcade League and Challenges for single player. These are miscellaneous missions, built into the game primarily as a tool to unlock features for multiplayer. Because all the multiplayer maps are already unlocked, there is a considerable shortage of Arcade League missions. There are still three leagues, but each league only has three categories of three missions, a considerable smaller number compared to TimeSplitters 2. The content of the Leagues and Challenges more than makes up for the smaller quantity, with cat racing, gravity arm manipulations, and monkey curling standing out. The bulk of unlockables is obviously centered on getting those 150 characters, but there is also a much larger number of cheats to unlock than TS2 featured.
TimeSplitters has always been a multiplayer-focused game, but while FRD has spent considerable time on the single player portions of the game, multiplayer is better than ever. All the modes from TS2 return, already unlocked, except for Flame Tag. Flame Tag appears to be missing from the game for some inexcusable reason, but Future Perfect's new features more than makes up for the absence. All the multiplayer maps are also unlocked from the start, so there's nothing to stop you from busting out the game and calling your friends over for some fun shootin'. Besides Deathmatch, Capture the Bag, and the greatly improved Assault, unique modes of TimeSplitters include Thief, Virus, Shrink, and Monkey Assistant. The vast majority of the maps in TimeSplitters Future Perfect are much larger and more open than those in TimeSplitters 2, and are designed for certain purposes. Siberia is a HUGE open snowland, ideal for sniping on the move, and features the game's only vehicle on a multiplayer map. Vietnam shows off the physics system with impressive water effects, as does Venice. Virtual Reality is an ideal show of originality. Disco is a nice replacement for Nighthall, with great music and lots of stage effects. Returning maps include Mexican Mission, Training Ground, and Chinese, all receiving slight modifications (and a major one: Training Ground's computer turrets were removed!) Overall, multiplayer couldn't be better.
One of the major features of TimeSplitters: Future Perfect is an improved and more powerful Mapmaker. And FRD made good on this promise. You can make a map for any of the game modes, including Story, and you can place powerups, weapon spawns, player spawns, and set bots and weapons. The maximum size for maps is slightly larger than before, and maps are defaultly set on no ceiling to show the sky. When the ceiling is disabled, the highest level will show the sky, while all lower levels will show a ceiling, which can be annoying. You can't really make an outdoor map since you're surrounded by walls, which was a commonly held misconception. However, you can change the weather, change the sky, and enable a ceiling. There are more tiles and tilesets, and connectors are no longer a concern for tiles. The trigger system is easier to use than before and more powerful, too, and the spawn trigger allows you to have more than ten bots in a map at once. There are only two vehicles that you can place in the map maker, and both are weaponless. One is the buggy, which is available on half the tilesets, and the other is the jeep-type buggy, available on the other half of the tilesets. An act of laziness over at FRD made it so that you can only have eight max players starting in a Mapmaker map in-game. This suggests they did the PS2 version first, designed for online play, then ported over.
You probably read about the occasional freezes and hangs the GameCube version gets. How bad are they? They're almost unnoticeable. In my 30 hours of playing, my game only froze twice, once after a particularily unique ending to an Arcade League and once when the music changed in the last story mission. Some people have never had any freezes at all, while others have had a large number of crashes. Freezes rarely occur in the middle of a game, so they don't matter too much.
Free Radical Design has refined TimeSplitters into a new standard-setter for the FPS genre. TimeSplitters: Future Perfect has all modern FPS features yet retains the oldschool feeling that TS is so well known for. TS:FP would have been perfect if it weren't for the technical issues, but they're so minute in the big picture that they really don't matter. Overall, however, TimeSplitters: Future Perfect is simply fun. Now the big question you're probably asking: Is TimeSplitters: Future Perfect worth $50 compared to TS2 for $10? It most certainly is!
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 03/28/05, Updated 04/04/05
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