Review by Soliduous
"Why buy TS2?"
This will be my first ever review, so, uh, hello, everybody!
I really stressed over the decision to buy TS2. Which of the three FPS's out there for the PS2 should I get? Red Faction 2? 007 Nightfire? Hold out for Max Payne 2? The only demo of these four games I had played was the Timesplitters 2 Siberia level on my PSM demo disk, so when I popped in the full version, I was totally unprepared for the fragging goodness that was in store. I know now I made the right decision. On with the review:
PRESENTATION - 8
Let me elaborate on that:
GRAPHICS - 8
Timesplitters 2 is gorgeous. All characters and levels have tons of polygons. As you may know by now, the game is modeled in a slightly cartoony fashion (I DON'T mean cel-shading). There are TONS of characters (126), and they all look and move good. They even dive, slide, and roll out of the way as you try and make them good-looking corpses. The guns look great, too. Other reviewers have lamented poor-quality textures, but the worlds are bright and varied and I personally haven't noticed. The only textures I have noticed are those of the Neotokyo level where it is raining. The washing-mist along the walls is stunning.
Furthermore, the frame rate for TS2 is through the roof. The GameNow magazine claims, ''co-op mode is barf-bag choppy,'' but that is a bald, fat, ugly lie. Co-op mode flows just as smoothly as single player, which is blazing fast. The ONLY, ONLY time I have EVER noticed any slowdown, was when (count the factors of this equation) I was playing a Created Map (1) in multiplayer with my roommate (2) with 10 other bots in the arena (3). And even then, the framerate was nowhere near as bad as the abysmal excuse for versus mode found in Robotech: Battlecry. Furthermore, after 3 GameNow issues I am convinced that they know the least about videogames of anybody trying to tell otheres about videogames.
Worth mentioning is the dearth of load times in this game. You ONLY load (and for 20 sec. at most) when starting a level, or going back to the menu system. THERE IS NO LOADING BETWEEN MENUS! It's amazing, giving how good the menus look and how much stuff there is to deal with. This game is all about speed.
AUDIO - 7
I have no complaints. Everything sounds right, and the moans of female characters and screams of flaming monkeys elevate this game above average in this department.
STORY - 8
For most people, this is the worst part of the game, but I disagree. You want a truly original story? Well, too bad, because there hasn't been a single original concept out there since 1296 CE! People should realize that each of the Story Mode levels is a PARODY of the relevant movie or movie genre.
The story involves evil Timesplitting aliens (and their Zombie legions) who you can only stop by jumping into the body of someone who lived in that era and defeating the evil person from that era who has teamed up with the aliens. This means that each of the 10 Story Mode levels come from a different time period. Each level has its own feel to it, and it's done incredibly well. The first level is a prolonged reference to the first level of the developers' previous work, Goldeneye 007 for the N64. My favorite level is in the Wild West, which reminds me of every western I've ever seen.
The thing I would change, is to make clear that the protagonist's soul is Quantum-Leaping into the character from that time period, because based on the often hilarious intros, it feels like you're simply playing AS the character, rather than as the protagonist inhabiting the character. Or maybe you are...it's not really clear except in the first level.
CONTROL - 9
The control is AMAZING, particularly for a genre where a
Dualshock 2 would be seemingly inferior to a Mouse. I was a big fan of Perfect Dark for the N64, and TS2 uses a similar setup. The analog sticks move and aim, the right shoulder buttons regular and alternate fire, the left shoulder buttons crouch and zoon, the left-right d-pad switches weapons, the up-down d-pad zooms in and out, X activates things, and Triangle auto-reloads. No qualms here.
The game features auto-center when you move, although you can disable this. Also default is an auto-aim feature that compensates for your lack of a mouse. This isn't the
forced-aiming auto-aim found in Dead to Rights or GTA:Vice
City, but rather, a subtle, invisible thing. You still have to use the Right Analog stick to aim, and even within the range of aiming you can aim upward to decapitate Zombies and the like. For precision, holding down L2 gives you manual aim (or Zoom control for sniper rifles).
Also, Free Radical gets major kudos for allowing you to
completely customize the button setup. I personally have no problems at all with the defaults, and control became second-nature to me within the first minutes of playing. The one thing detracting from the score is the inability to set the analog sticks' sensitivity, but again, I wouldn't use this feature anyway.
GAMEPLAY - 10
This game ROX. HARD. Why? Well, let's just say that it's the only, ONLY game on any system that is so good that I don't wanna put it down to finish up Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. I have been missing all my classes and stopped working out due to the Timesplitters 2 addiction. Furthermore, this is the only multiplayer game I can get my non-gaming roommates to play with me on a regular basis.
This is pick-up-and-play at its best (see Controls). It's simple fun for anyone who's ever played an FPS, only blazing-fast. It doesn't have Red Faction 2's Geo Mod or 007 Nightfire's License or Max Payne's Bullettime or Hitman 2's Rag Doll Physics (sigh) or Unreal 2k3's Internet Capability or Halo's Story Mode or Soldier of Fortune's numerous death throes...BUT....but, it's still a better game than any of those. Why? It's FUN. Each of those games has one problem or another (except Hitman 2, which isn't technically an FPS) whereas TS2 excels in every category that matters in multiplayer.
It's faster fun than any of the above except MAYBE Unreal. It's got more multiplayer legs than anything above except Unreal with the internet connection. And Unreal isn't out for PS2. Besides, it's got more options (bots, skins) than Unreal.
The only unique mechanic to TS2 is fire. Get set on fire, and only aiming a fire extinguisher on the ground in front of you or jumping into water areas will put you out. Otherwise, you slowly lose health until you die. You also light up anyone you touch until such time.
Weapons are fun. 35 different things, from SFPB's (RFPB's for PD vets) to 2x Double Sawed-off Shotguns to Crossbows (whose bolts can be lit on fire by approaching a torch) to Rocket Launchers and anything else you'd expect from a shooting game. The Plasma Gun, with its sticky bombs (that stick to characters) especially in the Training Ground level, reminds me alot of Halo.
TS2 has many modes. Let me explore each in detail:
STORY MODE - 9
Fun, most especially with co-op play. I refuse to finish the game without my roommie. Some of the puzzles seem like they were designed for 2 players. There are 3 difficulty levels, and, like Perfect Dark or Goldeneye 007, higher difficulty levels add not only more, harder enemies, but also increase the number of objectives and area you must traverse.
Unlike the frenzied multiplayer, Story Mode takes advantage of more detail and the slower pace to allow for varied objectives. Missions vary from shooting barrels of wine to drain them (during Prohibition-era Chicago) to sniping guards and cameras for stealthy entrances to fighting off boss ships with the aid of rocket-launching, machine-gunning turrets. Only the NeoTokyo stealth objective is annoying, because the target seems to have eyes in the back of her head.
Each of the 10 levels has its own set of enemies, unique objectives, environments, and they share only a few weapons. The stages create beautiful, unique environments. Of course, this might be a tad short if that's all there were...but Story Mode is only half of the non-Multiplayer TS2 package!
CHALLENGE - 7
Challenge is a series (8 categories of 3 each) of wierd challenges for the single player only. They range from shooting cardboard-cutout targets to a survival mode vs. the Zombies to a 3d-type Pac Man game to 3 Timesplitters 1-type ''Story'' levels. Only the 3d Pac Man was boring to me. Medals range from bronze to the hidden Platinum (hidden because the requirements aren't known). Getting Bronze on enough challenges opens the first level of the next tier, etc.
ARCADE LEAGUE - 8
The meat of the Single Player experience, arcade league is 3 Leagues worth of 6 categories of 3 each of...well, these are technically setups that you COULD make yourself with the ARCADE CUSTOM, only with medal requirements such as getting a certain number of kills before the timer runs out, and of course, a kooky paragraph-backstory. This is alotta fun, and many of later challenges are very difficult for even seasoned gamers to PASS, much less get gold on. It took me the first week of nonstop playing to even unlock all the categories.
ARCADE - 10
The true meat of the game, even if you're all alone. This is essentially the multiplayer setup you know and love from Goldeneye or Perfect Dark. Play with a friend or with up to 10 bots or both.
Bots are great. Each skin/bot has its own speed, health, and aiming stats, which can be deactivated for a level playing field. There are over 126 characters, and they comprise a TON of archetypes. Everything from baby-like Cyborgs to Zombie Priests to Monkeys. Monkeys!
You can set the scoring system, activate one hit kills, limits, handicaps, and select the five weapons (although, say, 2x Silenced Pistol and 1 Silenced Pistol count as 2 separate weapons...just finding 2 Silenced Pistols will not let your character have a pistol in each hand. You have to specifically find a 2x Silenced Pistol pickup in the level).
There are tons of modes: Vampire, Shrink, Health Regeneration, Team Deathmatch, Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Hold the bag the longest, Flame Tag, etc., etc., etc. It's very customizable, and very, VERY fun.
One feature I'll never use, but worth mentioning. You can play up to 4 people if you have a multitap.
Like above, I'll never get to do this, but with 4 tvs, 4 multitaps, 16 people and controllers, and an I-Link, you can have a 16-person deathmatch. That would ROCK!
TS2 has no official internet or online play. Not that I would get the adapter if it did, but you should know this in advance. Of course, the great people at Gamefaqs(tm) have devised a system of playing with each other through the internet by fooling the PS2 into thinking it's an I-Link game. Check it out if this matters to you. Even without all these frills, TS2 has more multiplayer legs than any console game I've ever seen.
MAPMAKER - 7
That's right, mapmaking...on a console FPS. Unfortunately, your options are VERY limited...maps have to be small, and you can only choose from 20 or so tiles to work with (you can't edit wall textures). Still, you can make maps for any mode, even Story Mode. I've already made this great map with 2 bases (one lit in red, the other blue), the good pickups in the battlefield in the middle, and 2 pairs of 2 controllable turrets designed to punish those who go for the pickups. JOY! Mapmaking for Story Mode is a lost cause; you have no real choices. Still, it's a great feature to include.
So there you have it; a TON of stuff to do, especially if you have friends.
The last thing I wanna comment on (you're still reading this!?!) is extras:
EXTRAS - (-2)
Minus? What? That's right. TS2 gives you great rewards for medals, in the form of DOUBLING the number of modes and skins and maps you can unlock. But this means to get all of the 126, you have to get Gold medals on virtually every Arcade League and Challenge level and beat the Story Mode on the aptly-named Hard. I don't think I'll ever be able to get all Golds, which means there's TS2 stuff I'll never see. I HATE it when games do this. I paid the full $60 for Timesplitters 2, GIVE ME THE FULL GAME!!!!! Sigh. Truth is, even with half of this stuff, TS2 is a very worthy purchase and the best multiplayer console game available on any system, it's just annoying that I have to beat certain levels for reasons other than pride.
OVERALL - 9
This game is amazing. Why not perfect? Well, I can nit-pick about wanting more gimmicks, not having to unlock half the game, wanting more Story Mode levels, but...I am very harsh on games, and TS2 deserves its 9. For the record, I don't think I've ever played a game I would rate a 10. Vice City is a 9, Sly Cooper a 7, MGS2 a 6, and those are all great games. Maybe when they add Rag Doll Physics to Max Payne and include better level design, make it a huge game with great multiplayer and get John Woo to do the story, and have perfect graphics we'll have a 10 games. Until then, there's Timesplitters 2. You will not be sorry you bought this game.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 12/13/02, Updated 12/13/02
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