Review by Gruel

"And now, the motion picture inspired by the game: Timesplitters can't jump!"

Everybody seemed to love the original Timesplitters. It was one of the few standout launch titles of the PS2. One of the more noteworthy aspects about this game was that members of the development team over at Free Radical were old employees of Rare that worked on smash hit, Goldeneye 007. It also was one of the first console FPS games to contain a map maker so you can create your own worlds of destruction. The multi player gaming was fast and furious and I loved every bit of it.

Despite the aforementioned strengths, the original did have several major flaws. Some of them were horrendous loading times, no blood or gore apparent whatsoever, an embarrassing single player mode lacking a storyline, and being one of the few FPS games that won’t allow you to jump. Let’s find out if the sequel capitalized on any of these shortcomings.

The PS2 controller is bad enough as it is for first person shooters, but things didn’t help when Free Radical implemented a horrendous default control set up for the first game. After enough tinkering around though, I was able to find a decent enough scheme to get me by. It’s assuring to know the developers learned their lesson and included a better default control scheme where one analog stick is used to move, and the other to strafe. Of course, if you prefer a different scheme you can customize it to your liking or choose from one of several presets. There is still one thing that ticks me off about the controls, and that is the fact that you still can’t jump! I have no idea why they didn’t include this in the sequel. Just makes you want to think what the developers are smoking.

The whole “grab item A and bring it to point B” theory used in the original game as its main way of single player was a major disappointment. Eidos heard our cries and included an acceptable single player game complete with a story line and objective based mission’s ala Goldeneye. If you’re familiar with the old television show, Quantum Leap, then you’ll know how TS2 performs. That’s where you control of the alias of a certain person in different time periods. Just be thankful we don’t have to deal with Henry Wrinkler anymore.

New objectives also occur on the fly whenever specific event arise. It’s a nice twist and keeps the solo player experience fresh. While this single player game is a significant improvement over the one in the original, it didn’t keep me as hooked and wasn’t as enthralling as the ones in Goldeneye, Red Faction, or Halo.

There are two other additional modes which make up for this. The Arcade League and Challenge modes place you in a plethora of predetermined scenarios. In some instances, you’ll have to complete certain tasks like avoiding a flaming monkey for a certain amount of time or honing your shooting accuracy by destroying so many windows within a time limit. You are given gold, silver, or bronze awards depending on how good you perform in each challenge. This also is used this to unlock various characters, levels, and game modes to use in multi player. This whole experience is reminiscent of the whole training modes and target practice mini games in Perfect Dark, but only a lot more fun and addicting.

As I said above, the multi player action in the original was some of the best to be found in any console game at the time. The same kind of heated action makes its return. The multi player experience is incredibly deep as there are countless ways of customizing your favorite mode. There are boatloads of weapons you can choose from including new found favorites like the homing rocket launcher and flamethrower. There are dozens of skins for the bots you can choose to go against. Timesplitters 2 probably has the most multi player modes than any other game out there. These modes range from your common deathmatch to the unique flame tag.

Like before, all of your stats can be saved on your own user profile. However, post-game stats aren’t as in-depth as they were in the last game. They now include only the nitty gritty stats and you can’t even track down how many individual kills you did in team games. The acclaimed mapmaker makes its return and features the many memorable features it had before. The hundreds of parts available to you will make you churn out enough innovative maps so you can make mom proud! Aside from several different skins added, and a few new tiles here and there, not much has changed with the mapmaker. But that’s a good thing, and as the old cliché goes “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

The anorexic character models we remember from the first Timesplitters are back. Heck, it looks like little Jimmy gets more to eat than these guys. Even though they’re a bit odd looking at first, they’ll grow on you and they give the Timesplitters name some class as well. One thing I didn’t like about the original game was that most weapons had simple reload animations where a weapon would go off screen for half a second and come back reloaded. That still is the case with this TS2, save for the animations on the shotguns and a couple other weapons. While I’m disappointed with this the simple animations match perfectly for the fast pace of game play that Timesplitters 2 has to offer.

One of the problems with most early PS2 games were the jagged graphics which resulted from the low amount of V-Ram the PS2 hardware contained. The first Timesplitters suffered from this and produced some graphics that were hard on the eyes. However, it looks like Free Radical got past the hardware limitations of the PS2 this time around and most of the graphics are jaggy free! I’m amazed that the frame rate still runs at super fast speeds even with ten bots running around in the most ferocious of action.

I despised the insanely long loading times of the original. They’re still a bit lengthy in TS2, but nowhere near as bad as the original (about 15 seconds now instead of 40). Another thing that boggles me is why is there no blood? Hell, even Goldeneye had blood “stains.” I can’t even find a drop of it in Timesplitters 2. It’s probably because Eidos wanted to keep the game at a Teen rating. At least we can still behead zombies.

The voice acting is well done for the most part. The main characters like Sgt. Cortez sound good enough for me. The sound effects for everything are mostly recycled from the last game, but they still get the job done. There are plenty of background tracks to select during game play. Most of these match the atmosphere of the game and are dimmed out just enough so they don’t interfere with game play.

I’m satisfied with the single player modes available in the sequel. I’m sure you too will be spending just as much time completing the story mode, and all the challenges so you can unlock all the hidden items for multi player. Don’t forget about the infinite amount of possibilities the mapmaker can provide.

I can play this game for hours on end with my friends. If you can scrounge up the space and resources, then you can get everyone together for a PS2 LAN party where up to sixteen people can play simultaneously. Granted, that’s if you’re lucky enough to find sixteen gamers and controllers, four multi-taps, televisions, PS2s, copies of TS2, enough I-Link cables, and a partridge in a pear tree. This would’ve been much easier with the promised online play, but Eidos announced that they took it out because they said they didn’t want to cause any game delays for further development. Regardless, Timesplitters 2 is still one kick-ass mulit player extravaganza.

RATINGS

Graphics: 8.4
Sound: 8.9
Game play: 9.0
Replay Value: 9.3

Overall: 8.9

Timesplitters 2 overcame plenty of flaws from the original, even though it still retained a few of them along the way. TS2 is a much better game than the original. If you enjoyed the first one, then make sure to pick the sequel up because there is enough new content and improvements in it to warrant a purchase. The only competition on PS2 in this genre is THQ’s Red Faction 2, and TS2 goes toe-to-toe with it. In the end, I believe Timesplitters 2 slightly gains the upper hand and is the shooter to get for your PS2 this holiday season.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 12/21/02, Updated 12/21/02


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