Review by !.ACA.!

"A … TimeSplitters 2 is one of the strongest multiplayer games in history"

TimeSplitters 2 is one of the strongest multiplayer games in history.

Free Radical—a development company comprised of old Rare programmers—has been given a task most gaming companies will never receive. Their mission, if they choose to accept it, is to recreate the magic of Rare’s GoldenEye 007, one of the most popular games in history. GoldenEye 007, almost single-handedly, kept the Nintendo 64 console alive during its darkest months, and it therefore has a huge following, even today, years after its release.

Luckily for gamers, Free Radical accepted that mission and created TimeSplitters 2, an incredible first person shooter. Unfortunately, though, for Free Radical, GoldenEye 007’s magic is near impossible to recreate. Companies such as Electronic Arts have been trying for years, but their efforts are essentially in vane. Any game resembling GoldenEye or attempting to succeed GoldenEye will always have the misfortune of being compared to Rare’s masterpiece. And the games never come close to matching up.

While TimeSplitters 2 is obviously comparable to GoldenEye 007 in ways, it is also quite different. Free Radical’s frustration must mount every time TimeSplitters 2 is marked as a sequel to GoldenEye 007. The two games share many aspects, but ultimately each is very unique.

Unquestionably, TimeSplitters 2 is built around the multiplayer mode. The game was designed for four players sitting around the television, as is clearly seen by the attention put into the multiplayer gameplay. The game features 126 characters, each with unique abilities and attributes, for use in multiplayer action. For instance, one of the characters, the Stone Golem, is not vulnerable to fire—yet he is extremely slow. The Monkey, however, is very flammable yet moves quite quickly. A giant mob boss, Fat Tony, has more health than most characters, but also moves very slowly. A platoon leader has average stats in all categories, but his accuracy is slightly better than most characters. The list could continue on for every other character, but it’s better to see for yourself some of the wacky characters out there. And since only a fraction of the 126 characters are unlocked from the start, you’ll spend a good deal of time unlocking each new character, tacking on the replay value.

Not only boasting a gigantic list of playable characters, TimeSplitters 2’s multiplayer mode offers more than enough levels, guns, bots, scenarios, and options. Every match you play can be fine-tuned to play exactly as you want it. It is nice to create your own sets of weapons and bots, in case the system defaults become boring; it’s also a great feature to save your weapon and bot configurations.

The multiplayer, or Arcade Mode as it is officially titled, is what you’re buying TimeSplitters 2 for. In addition to classic death match mode, there are many bizarre, yet fun, modes to play. There is even a League for you to compete in, where you tackle various Arcade Mode challenges to earn trophies and, more importantly, new characters, cheats, levels, modes, and a handful of other nice treats. The game keeps track of all this progress with complete (and often peculiar) statistics, such as how many glass panes you smashed, how many heads you knocked off, or even your average running speed. With a few friends (up to four on one console, or up to sixteen through four consoles and link cables), Arcade Mode could last nearly forever—which is good, because the one player game won’t last very long.

TimeSplitters 2 is nicely built around full customization of various aspects. Your controller, for example, can be fine-tuned to exactly how you want it. You can set it in any way your heart can imagine, which is a great touch, and it gives the game a great score in the controls department. Although not necessarily a fault in the game, it should be noted that the PlayStation 2 Dual Shock analog sticks are very inadequate; precision sniping can become a real pain.

In addition to the Arcade Mode, TimeSplitters 2 offers a story mode, challenge mode, and a map maker feature. While improved tenfold over the first TimeSplitters solo player experience, TimeSplitters 2’s story mode is still very lacking in comparison to other games on the first person shooter market. The missions appear to have substance, but in reality, they are really quite shallow. The game’s first mission, the GoldenEye tribute, is by far and away the game’s best mission. Most of the missions appear to be rushed, and they come off very disjointed and unoriginal. That having been said, the missions are still a blast to play through a few times. Each level can be played cooperatively with a friend in split-screen mode, but the game doesn’t look nearly as good as it does in the full screen one player mode. Even still, it is a nice touch to play through some of the cooler single player missions with a friend.

In Challenge Mode, you’ll complete various tasks, often time based, such as smashing as many glass panes as possible, using bricks, grenades, or other objects. Completing these challenges unlocks more challenges and more characters. Luckily, most of the challenges are actually quite enjoyable, and you’ll want to play them to unlock new things.

Map Maker mode is a nice feature, albeit overrated. On the positive side of things, it allows you to create your own customized maps for single player or Arcade Mode use. You can set lighting effects, weapons, spawn points, ramps, windows, and many more options in the robust map maker. Moreover, every map takes up only a fraction of your 8MB memory card, so you can easily save all the maps you will ever need. On the downside, though, it can be very misleading. You’re not going to create any groundbreaking maps (thanks largely because of very restrictive limit of the number or rooms allowed in one map), and creating single player maps is a taxing experience. The maps you do create, however, will certainly add enormous replay to a game that is already pushing the limits of how much replay value can be packed into a single game.

TimeSplitters 2 is a deep game, which means nothing if the gameplay mechanics and engine aren’t up to snuff. Luckily, the mechanics and engine are as good as they get on the PlayStation 2. The game runs at a faster pace than other shooters on the market, because it is still an arcade experience when you boil it all down. Visually, the game runs smoothly and has a very personal feel to it. It isn’t extremely realistic—there isn’t any blood, for example—and it plays out on its humorous effects quite a bit. Each character is nicely animated, and the textures look pretty good; don’t expect to be blown away, but it is a solid performance. The sound effects all hit the mark when they need to, and the music is passable for a first-person shooter.

As the saying it goes, when it rains, it pours. What the game does well, it does amazingly well. TimeSplitters 2 is easily one of the best multiplayer shooters of all time, and the amount of customization is simply unbelievable. However, the single player mode is not up to the standards set by other games of the genre, and it comes off as disorderly, especially given the horrendous storyline. TimeSplitters 2 is the perfect game if you have a handful of friends to play it with consistently. Make no mistake; you are essentially purchasing a multiplayer game. If you were looking at the game for a remarkable single player experience, you would do best to keep looking.

A … Presentation
Load times are good, which is a relief.

B … Graphics
The graphics are very nice, but the characters could look better.

C … Audio
An average musical score mixed with some satisfying sound effects.

A + … Gameplay
One of the best multiplayer games, ever. Single player mode still needs to be vastly improved.

A + … Value
Multiplayer mode could last forever. Nearly every aspect of the game can be customized, which is simply unbelievable..

A … FINAL GRADE


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 12/14/02, Updated 12/14/02


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