Believe it or not, you can tell a lot about TimeSplitters 2 and developer Free Radical from a monkey. Well, a pack of monkeys, really. "At intervals in multiplayer the weakest player is sporadically assisted by a bunch of gun-toting monkey fanatics," explains director David Doak. "They port in, kick ass, beat their little monkey chests, then skedaddle. Kind of like your own little pocket monkey cavalry." What does that tell us? A) Multiplayer is more than an afterthought for Free Radical, packed as it is with cool options like this (monkey-assist is just one of a buttload of options and modes), B) they have a freakin' odd sense of humor, and finally, C) TimeSplitters 2 sounds like it's gonna be a whole lotta fun.
But maybe the monkey didn't convince you. Maybe you've experienced the excellent deathmatch action in the original TimeSplitters, know that many at Free Radical worked on the blockbuster Nintendo 64 shooter GoldenEye, and are still uncertain. A skeptic, eh? With all the first-person shooters out there, who can blame you? But that's OK, 'cause 752 has a lot more to offer. Like online play, for one. Plenty of opponents, 24 hours a day, seven days a week (including and especially on holidays), all aching for a crack at ya. And when straight deathmatch gets old, you can try some of that buttload of modes we mentioned before: Bag Tag, Capture the Bag, Flame Tag, Assault, Virus, Possession, Vampire, Ogre--too many to list them all here.
Plus, there's always the single-player game. You jump around time and space in your search for the missing pieces of an alien time-travelling device--everywhere from the Wild West of the 1850s to Neo Tokyo in the year 2019. Don't care for the enemies or weapons in any particular level? Just wait--the next one will be completely different.
Don't forget about creating your own multi- or single-player maps (see sidebar). By the time you're done with everything, TimeSplitters 3, will probably be right around the corner.
All the exploding crates, monkeys and Play-Dohy enemies you could want are in the demo we saw of Eidos' shooter sequel, which is due out this spring. The game's opening sequence and gameplay reminded us a lot of N64's GoldenEye, which could be a plus. And even though TS2 looks plain, it runs smoothly on the PS2. Developer Free Radical is focusing heavily on the single-player game after TS1's mediocre solo offering.
Even if you didn't know that Free Radical Director David Doak worked on the blockbuster Nintendo 64 first-person shooter GoldenEye, you can tell he knows a few things about the genre just by watching him get behind a controller. The way he glides through hallways, stealthily disabling security cameras. Or how he drops enemies with a single head-shot before they can even raise a gun to their hostages. Or when he toys with his victims, lighting them with a flamethrower then dousing them with an extinguisher, only to set timed explosives on their back and watch them panic before the inevitable "BOOM!". But maybe the best evidence of all is the fact that he, and the team at Free Radical, are the guys making the game that includes all the cool stuff outlined above (and that's just the first couple levels): TimeSplitters 2.
You may remember the original TS on the PS2 for its smooth graphics, innovative level editor or frenzied multiplayer matches, but chances are the single-player game doesn't leap to mind. "The big thing for the first [7"S]," Doak explains, "was to make a solid multiplayer game, give it a fast, arcadey feet, and have it done in time for the PS2 launch." But for the sequel, as Doak told us, Free Radical's crosshair is aimed squarely on the single-player experience. "We thought, 'Let's include the kind of interactivity that GoldenEye had', just to remind people it wasn't that we'd forgotten how," he jokes.
To jog your memory, Free Radical is building each level in TS2 as a little story in itself, set in its own unique time and place, with characters, weapons and objectives specific to it. Encompassing it is the larger overall plot of two space marines (that's you and a friend if you want to play co-op) in pursuit of the naughty title aliens and their time-travel device. "It's kind of like a TV action series," says Doak. "There's a back story, but each each level is like a little episode." From gangster-filled 1930s Chicago, to a modern-day Siberian dam overrun with mutants, to a robot factory of the future, you warp into a different identity to accomplish each mission--kinda like the old sci-fi TV show Quantum Leap. The idea is to add this deep solo experience to an updated version of the multiplayer action the original T5 was known for. An ambitious plan, but as we watch David score his umpteenth head-shot in a row, it's hard not to believe Free Radical could pull it off.
After getting into some new PC shooters recently, I was slightly disappointed with my initial play of this new title from Eidos. I started with Story mode, only to be bored by the first twenty minutes of action. The inability to jump also made me grumble a bit at first. Luckily, my first impressions were completely wrong and I was soon absorbed by the outstanding variety of options delivered in.
In my opinion, the story mode is the least valuable choice on the main menu. It's a decent introduction, but the story is really nonexistent and only serves as an excuse to put you in 10 different time periods with weapons and sounds appropriate to the locale. Despite the lame storyline, going from mobsters in Chicago to outlaws in the Wild West was quite entertaining. The graphics are very smooth and the characters are fun to watch. I loved shooting enemies in the feet and watching them hop around in pain for a few seconds. And all of your actions are being measured: the stats keep track of everything from distance traveled to the number of zombie heads and limbs severed.
Once you get away from the story mode, you'll find the real fun. The arcade and multiplayer action is great, with tons of gameplay modes; my favorites included Shrink, in which the players keep shrinking as they get killed, or Virus, with flaming monkeys running around trying to catch you on fire. Meeting certain achievements in the arcade games opens new levels, cheats and characters. With so much stuff to unlock, it will take dedication to see all this game has to offer. And just in case you don't get enough, it includes the easy-to-use map creator that allows you to build your own levels to keep you playing forever. With this much depth, it's easy to recommend purchasing this addictive game.
Snapshots and Media
- Aliens Versus Predator: Extinction
- Armed and Dangerous
- Battlefield 2: Modern Combat
- Brute Force
- Call of Duty: Big Red One
- Codename Tenka
- Delta Force: Black Hawk Down
- From Russia with Love
- Full Spectrum Warrior
- Ghost Recon
- Quake II
- SOCOM U.S. Navy SEALs: Fireteam Bravo 2
- Doom 64
- Return to Castle Wolfenstein
- Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory
- Ultimate Doom
- Unreal: Return to Na Pali