Review by M. Fletcher
"A disappointing sequel. It doesn't live up to the hype that surrounded its release."
Timesplitters 2. Hailed by magazines and gamers alike as the best thing since sliced bread. But is it? Underneath the hype lies a game full of repetition and more repetition. In the next 2000 words, I will try to explain in detail, why, I feel, this game does not live up to the hype and is not worth the £45 price tag placed on it. Let the reviewing commence...
In general, the graphics are well done. The dam shows signs of detail in the first level and the weathering effects on other levels are executed almost to perfection. Yet, somehow, the graphics to not blow you away. The characters themselves, a major part of the game, are more cartoony than the realistic areas that surround them. They look like Wallace and Gromit in Metal Gear Solid 2. Forgive the poor example. This should not provide much of a problem as you never really see your character as it is in First-Person Perspective. The guns themselves are nothing more than average. When reloading, the gun drops out of the screen and pops back up again fully loaded. Minor details like this can take away from a games initial and lasting impact.
Gameplay and Controls: 2/10
Before going into the gameplay, I am going to analyse the controls. The controls are awkward and frustrating. The main controls are R2 for primary fire, R1 for secondary fire, left analog stick for movement and right analog stick adjusting height. If you have played Medal of Honor: Frontline, you will notice the similarity almost immediately. You are probably used to up on the right analog stick making you look up and vice versa. This is not the case. Moving the stick up will make you look down and vice versa. Although it may seem like a minor point, it provides for some irritating moments when you instinctively move the stick up, only to find yourself looking down and your feet. In the gameplay aspect, Timesplitters 2 falls short. Upon first loading the game, you will be hit with a feeling of 'wow' at the fast paced action. As you approach a week of owning it, you realise it is repetitive. How could I elaborate on that term? In terms of Timesplitters 2, it means that it gets old. The same thing over and over. At the start, shooting people in the head with a sniper rifle will provide a genuine thrill, but as you continue into the game and have to use it again, the thrill wears off and it provides a feeling of deja vu. There is only so much shooting can be done before you just get bored with it. Another point I would like to make is the conflicting sides of realism in the game. You can shoot someone twice in the leg with a pistol, yet they will continue to pursue you as you run off. Yet in one level, where you have to drain the contents of 4 barrels, you may not notice at the time, but you have to shoot the barrel in a specific place. Do you see what I mean by conflicting sides of realism? I hope so. The challenges provided quickly become tedious. In the first one, you have to shoot Zombies with a shotgun, with more points for shooting them in the head. This quickly becomes repetitive in the fact that how often is it 'cool' to see a zombies head rolling along the ground? You will only do the challenges for so long before getting bored with them. In a multiplayer aspect, the gameplay is not as expected. There are various options which can be unlocked through the Story Mode and then used. Most of these you will never actually attempt again after trying them for the first time. You'll wonder why the producers didn't put a bit more effort into gun reloading animation and less effort on so many multiplayer options, many of which will never be used.
The story is about as exciting as an evening spent in the house by yourself reading Ulrika Jonssons autobiography. The story is not explained very well and has you visiting different areas to regain the Time Crystals stolen by the Timesplitters. You visit different time zones from past, present and future and recollect the Time Crystals. In my opinion, the story was only made worse by its below average execution. The main thing you will use the story for will be to unlock the characters and levels locked at the start of the game, not for an unforgettable engaging experience on the console.
I must admit, the sound quality provided is excellent. Different guns have their own unique 'bang' and the nice reloading sounds are a consolation for the poor visual (of the reloading). The steam spouting out from the pipes in the first level sounds incredibly realistic and any in-game button presses are sounded beautifully. But the game falls down in some of the sound areas. For example, when you blow up a dish using a Timed Mine, you expect a bigger boom than the one you get. All you get is a feebly adapted gunshot noise. Also, when you shoot out a series of electrical panels, a sound of released electricity, and maybe a few waves of electricity would have been nice, instead, we get another adapted gunshot noise and the panels suddenly appearing broke.
The multiplayer section is highly anticipated. Although it is an enjoyable experience in the short-term, you're patience will quickly be tried with a series of minor flaws which provide the poor rating of this aspect. Firstly, the gameplay is too quick. You will be shooting someone and you'll suddenly drop dead, losing your fantastic arsenal of weapons and returning to the original weapon at one of the many restart points. Secondly, some of the levels are too claustrophobic. You will somehow end up in a large circle area surrounded by rocks with one entrance and exit. You can't remember how you got in there and you are surrounded by about 4 of the opposing team. All you can do is shoot and hope, not the gaming experience you would have hoped for. Thirdly, you have to unlock the few better modes. There are a couple of entertaining modes that are unlocked much later in the game. Their names escape me currently, but you have to go through a large chunk of the story mode before getting the game lets you play these levels. This can be nothing more than annoying if you find the story mode to be awful. And finally, the problem of repetition. You and your fellow gamers can only shoot things for a certain amount of time before it becomes the same thing over and over. For example, you and three of your mates play a four-way deathmatch for the first time. The first time through it is tremendous fun. Second time through, still quite fun but you're not taken aback by the (entertaining, short-term) gameplay. By the fifth of sixth time, you are tiring of shooting each other and different things and opt for a game of Pro Evolution Soccer 2 instead.
Replay: 1/10 - Single. 4/10 - Multiplayer
I have provided two scores for this part. I will go through each score seperately explaining how I eventually got to these scores. First, single player. Since you will be playing the game by yourself for a majority of the time, what has it to offer? To be blunt, not alot. The story, as I have explained above, is poorly executed and doesn't provide any 'flare' whilst playing it. It will keep you occupied as your labouriously go through it unlocking things to use in Multiplayer, but this will be a painful experience as, again, repetition rears its ugly head, as does the conflicting sides of realism. The challenges, as mentioned before, provide frustrating challenges that are rewarded with nothing of particular interest. In the second challenge (Sergio's Circus, or a name similar to that), you have to shoot flaming zombies before they come anywhere near you. There are fire extinguishers at the side if you should go on fire. On the base level, it sounds quite good, but as you actually play it, you will just get ticked off at the way you are shooting heads off no problem and then you go on fire, causing you to run around the edge to look for a fire extinguisher, only to be 'counted out'. Another part of the game, MapMaker, is too constricted and awkward (at times). You have to have red doors connected when you make a map. This gets frustrating, very quickly. You have just made an unbeatably amazing map which accurately portrays the layout of your family home. Yet, when you use it, you get trapped in areas as there are no doors. What is the problem? You have to have corners connecting red doors (NOTE: You don't always have to use corners, but it will be the more advised choice). This means taking apart your map and including corners, which then makes it look ten times worse than it was originally. Shame. As for the multiplayer, it receives a 4/10 for what I believe to be good reasons. The co-op story mode, with 2 players, is just as bad as single story mode. It provides no real 'perks' and drags on aimlessly in a dull, forgettable experience. People will claim that the real fun is in the vast options open to you when you play with up to three friends. I say to you, that you'll never use more than about 4 of the 'vast options open to you'. Some are pretty much the same thing, with a different name. The reason it gets a four, is because the first two or three days of multiplayer gaming is great, but after that, it is just awful.
Q: How could I describe the poor ratings of the games replay value in one word?
Yes, it is that word again. There is no other word that better describes it. First-Person Shooters are repetitive by nature. How often are you going to shoot a zombies head off before it gets old? It is like driving games, they use the same car against the same car AI, only on a different track.
I would suggest renting. I am not a major fan of the First-Person Shooter genre. I gave into the hype and was highly disappointed by it. Fans of the genre will probably find it entertaining making it worth the rental. If you aren't keen on this kind of game, then avoid it like the bubonic plague.
I am aware that the rating here is not an average, yet I can not seem to justify a higher score than this. Others will disagree. I guarantee that. But this is my opinion on a game, that I feel, didn't live up to hype. Below is a quick summary of the sections with their scores:
Not ground-breaking, but not bad either.
Gameplay and Controls: 2
The gameplay is repetitive and the controls are awkward for the fast paced action of the game.
Poor. Best word to describe it.
One of the better aspects of the game with nice execution in most of the areas.
Does not live up to the hype surrounding it.
Replay: 1 & 4
Again, the word repetitive is the best word to describe it.
To conclude, the game does not live up to hype. Period.
Medal of Honor: Frontline
Red Faction II
Reviewer's Score: 3/10 | Originally Posted: 10/20/02, Updated 11/03/02
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