Review by King Broccoli

"Oooooooooooooo............shiny"

Once upon a time a mystical group of people called Rare made a mystical game called Goldeneye and a lot of people liked it, everyone was happy. But one day darkness fell over the land of Rareware, an evil sorceror and his followers ran away to forge their own kingdom, they called it Free Radical. These people have made their very own FPS and it goes by the name of TimeSplitters, one of the most fast-paced frantic shooters to grace any console so far. Although it doesn't have much competition so far it is far and away the best PS2 shooter, and perhaps the best game for it overall, it's just so amazingly drooly! The story is a little vague, but it's something like this. The Timesplitters are a mean bunch of dudes, travelling through time and doing stuff, you must control some people and steal information from a chinese gang.....it doesn't really make sense.

GAMEPLAY
Despite the gameplay gravitating more towards a multiplayer game, there is still a veritable truckload of enjoyment for the single player. Three game modes are available for you to have a shot at, the first one goes by the name of STORY MODE and is where the single player must succeed. There are nine missions with three difficulty levels, finishing them will unlock secrets and finishing them really fast will unlock even more (cooperative story mode is a reality)! Then there's ARCADE MODE, this is the best part of the game. 1 - 4 players can take part in deathmatch, capture the flag, escort and quite a few more games. It offers intense firepower and some of the fastest action ever witnessed. Mode number three is CHALLENGE MODE, and it's rather tough, you get a certain task and a time limit and have to go out and set some records, it's rather abstract but still a lot of fun.

There have been quite a few complaints made about the controls of the game, but after just one match you can be partially accustomed to them. The idea of using both analog sticks to control your character can be tough to get used to, but this has been countered by having a greater focus on the top buttons. It's actually quite an intuitive control scheme, and makes the game very friendly to play after those first couple of introductory games. Your character moves at quite a fair pace but doesn't quite turn as fast as you'd like, the lack of a jump button also hurts you at times. There are a few shortcomings but the controls aren't too bad at all.

There's a big list of weapons that can be used in this game, from the old fashioned weapons that were all the rage in the last couple of centuries to the weapons of today all the way to a future where all the bullets have pretty luminous colours. All of them have ups and downs, and many have two different firing types. There's always a gun that you'll find to your liking, there's a lot of variety in the weapons, it should be a pleasure maiming ducks and zombies with all of them.

The level designs have been done well, many of them appear to be short but have multiple routes and the like which open them up a little bit. There's a nice combination of cramped passages and cavernous spaces, and none of them are too tricky to navigate your way through without too much hassle. There's a nice range of levels, the time travelling theme has been used well to capture nine locations from nine different years. You can go through an ancient Egyptian tomb or a futuristic airport, all of them are very clever in design and should keep you happy during your blasting sprees.

The damage control for yourself and the enemies is very clever, a shot to the head or other vital organs should take them out immediately, whilst honing in on an arm or a leg might prove to be a bit more useless. When you're being absolutely swamped with enemies it's always smart to go for these areas, this is about as strategic as the game will get, seeing as it's more focused on FUN!

If you get sick of all the levels that have been so thoughtfully laid out for you, just direct your efforts towards the MapMaker included in the game. You get a selection of tiles to put down and lighting and items to whack in them. It's all a litle bit limited, but you have enough freedom to make your own masterpieces. They're all saved into one file and aren't big at all, you can have hundreds of the little blighters on one memory card! Design your house or your school or your dog if you're getting bored.

Overall, there is a fair amount of depth in the game for all players. Even though the STORY MODE appears a bit rushed together and lacking, it will be played for a long time by the people who like unlocking things. Of course the single player can always try out the ARCADE and CHALLENGE modes so there's plenty there. It's never as much fun as with a friend or two, but no FPS is. Some fine gameplay that will take a long time to get sick of.

GRAPHICS
The graphics of TimeSplitters are very sharp, crisp and have extremely few techincal faults. You can have a four player split-screen game with 10 bots in a small environment, and it just won't show any sign of slowdown! Moving at a tasty 60 frames per second has never been so enjoyable, everything is so very clear as well! Somebody decides to shoot you from behind you can quickly whip around and pinpoint their direction immediately. There are a lot of great visual effects as well, the flames from a rocket laucher or gas oozing from a nuclear waste container are always a treat to see and help give some lovely atmosphere to the game.

The characters have not been made to look realistic, and believe it or not it actually pays off. It's more of a deformed look, with long skinny necks and oddly shaped heads, but they still look awfully good. You've got a rather ragtag bunch of characters to choose from, with some strange humans being available at the start and even quirkier selections like ducks, zombies and Elvis impersonators being unlocked later on. Their animations are fairly good, it's nice to be able to see what the enemy is actually doing! If an opposing bot decides to hit manual aim mode you actually see them bring the weapon up to their eyes, truly breathtaking stuff (they all run like girls though!). They all have high levels of detail, the zombies can often have half their bodies missing, the humans being immaculately dressed with no-nonsense haircuts. There's pretty much nothing wrong with this bunch of wierdos!

The backgrounds are all very good, with the same attention to detail as the characters, and often a little bit more! In the middle of a game just take a look around and you'll see all sorts of bells and whistles that weren't neccessary but make the game look that much more special. The colours of the levels can get a little bit bland at times, but you'll forget that once you start blowing some stuff up. The levels are fairly expansive, and you can see things very far off, it's all just so very clear. Lighting has been used to great effect in all of the arenas, being gloomy at times whilst giving out more of a futuristic look mainly using lights is not a bad effort at all. There are prettier backgrounds that can be seen on the console, but certainly not too many!

Overall, it's a very polished graphical look that Timesplitters has! Very few faults to be found, just a sharp, clean look that you won't get sick of looking at for an immensely long period of time. Of course a CG movie or two would have been a nice touch, but going without certainly won't dent your opinion of the game one bit at all. The fact that it manages to have a high amount of detail but still move at a frantic pace is almost astonishing.

SOUND
The sound is at a very high standard, it's even nicer than the graphics, it's even nicer than the Queen Mother for crying out loud! Background music has indeed been used as an instrumental tool in creating tension and atmosphere in the game. Each tune has been carefully selected and given a corresponding level to be played in, and boy do they fit each other well. Take the ''Mansion'' level for example, you're wandering along a dim hallway in a house crawling with mean zombies, fearing an attack from any given side....all of a sudden this slow organesque music fades in! What do you do? Soil your pants and hide in the closet! All of the levels have music that fit them just as well as this, they don't get repetitive at all and actually sound pretty good. Not the highest quality music around, but don't complain unless you can orchestrate a better soundtrack darn it!

There are a lot of sound effects, more than enough to keep a person content through the winter. They have a very nice ambience to them and are as realistic as one could have hoped. Each of the guns has a very distinct and personalised sound, from the throaty roar of the rocket launcher to the echoing bang of a handgun all the way to a quite zzzzzzppppp of a cute little futuristic weapon. There is a little bit of voice acting to be heard, it's quite good and often comical. When you hear the ubiquitous Mr. Big growl out ''I'm a busy man'' you'll know that the world is a good place to be. All of the lines are delivered with conviction, and their growls of pain during a match are equally realistic. It's very tough to find a problem with these sound effects, so don't bother.

Overall, the sound goes perfectly with the graphics, they're a match made in heaven. The sound effects do tend to drown out the music, and it's unfortunate that this happens since it's so luvverly, but you'll honestly hardly notice in the middle of a deathmatch. A godlike sound category.

LIFESPAN
The lifespan is very long, it will take long enough to unlock everything there is to unlock in the game and to finish everything and you'll still play months after that. There is a lot of stuff to customise, so no game will ever really be the same, and if you've got some friends out there who like games then this one will hardly ever leave your console. You'll be playing this game until the sequel is released, then maybe even a little bit longer!

FUN FACTOR
The fun factor is also extremely high, it's a game that will bring many joyous occasions to your household. The thrill of patrolling the quiet streets of a small village armed with a rocket launcher and taking out highly adept bots is peerless. It's a game with a great sense of humour and a penchant for violance and destruction, what more does the average gamer need out of a game (other than a whole lot of nudity)?

CHALLENGE
The challenge would be somewhere between medium and ridiculously hard, this game can be so tough at times that it might just make you cry. The easy difficulty won't present you with too much of a challenge, keep plugging away and you'll be through it no worries, it's the normal and hard difficulties that are really worrying. The very first level on a normal dificulty will take hours to get through, you'll need a lot of practise to actually get through all of these. And doing it at a pace to unlock extra secrets? You'll have to be some kind of superhuman!

THE FINAL PARAGRAPH
Timesplitters looks to me like the top PS2 games out there, beating even the highly acclaimed SSX. It offers a decent one player game and unmatched multiplayer enjoyment. I highly reccomend that you go out and get yourself this game immediately, and if you don't have a PS2 then it would be a good idea to get one of those as well, this game is almost worth it. It leaves the PS2 version of Unreal Tournament for dead and coming very close to those ''oh-so-special'' N64 games. Timesplitters is a great long-term investment for anyone...except those that crumble at even the mention of a challenge.
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GOOD POINTS
- Brilliant multiplayer matches
- A speedy pace throughout the whole thing
- Very nice audio/video workings

NOT SO GOOD POINTS
- The one player mode annoys some people
- The controls annoy some people
- The difficulty annoys some people
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GRAPHICS - 8/10
SOUND - 9/10
GAMEPLAY - 10/10
LIFESPAN - 10/10
FUN FACTOR - 9/10
CHALLENGE - 7/10
OVERALL - 10/10


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 01/06/01, Updated 09/10/01


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