a look at world history. Overall, we’re a pretty messed up bunch.
Imagine, if you will, that our apparent insanity isn’t really
our fault at all. Imagine that there is a secret and hidden race
of beings, living outside of time and space, that have for eons
sown the seeds of inhumanity and destruction amongst us. Now imagine
that a few goody two-shoes over the last hundred years or so have
drawn the attention of these beings, and they ain’t happy. Enter
Timesplitters, from designers Free Radical Design and published
by Eidos, is a PlayStation 2 (PS2) only title, and is simply one
of the best games available at launch, or even now, three months
later. Possibly the best First-Person Shooter (FPS) yet to be
seen on a console, the game puts you into the roles of the aforementioned
goody two-shoes, and takes you across several locales and eras
set between the years 1935 and 2035. Each era and location allows
you to choose from either a male or a female onscreen avatar;
it’s nice to see a designer address this always touchy issue,
though admittedly the women are somewhat scantily clad - hey,
this is published by Eidos, after all. Gameplay is fast and frenetic,
with nary a drop in framerate no matter how hectic the action
gets. Single player mode takes you across 24 unique and varied
levels, ranging from a desert tomb to an alien planet, with stops
in factories, seaside villas, and Triad-infested cityscapes along
the way, facing everything from thugs, to cult members, to aliens.
Where, you ask, do the actual Timesplitters come in? Well,
in each level you have two primary objectives: retrieve on object
(amulet, data file, what have you), and then return it to your
starting location. Once you grab it, forget about the crazed cultists,
alien scumbags, or Chinese thugs you’ve been facing; the Timesplitters
themselves will teleport in to try to rain on your parade. Remember:
always keep an eye on your back! While the single player game
is a blast to play, the real meat and potatoes is in the multiplayer,
where no fewer than eight game types will test your skills against
up to three opponents (the Sony Multitap is needed to play with
three or four people). Modes include such variants as Deathmatch
and Capture the Bag (a twist on the standard FPS Capture the Flag
wherein you need to grab a specific item and hold onto it), but
if you really want to show off to your friends, try creating your
own levels to blow them away in. That’s right, Timesplitters
includes a fully loaded level design kit, and it’s about the easiest
to learn I’ve seen in a game since the days of Doom.
Just stick the disc in, spend a while designing a level, and take
it your friend’s house on your handy memory card - instant replayability.
This is done in a 3D environment, which is notoriously difficult
to design for in PC FPS games - PC developers can learn a thing
or two from what Free Radical has done here. I’m looking forward
to when the PS2 gets online capabilities; it should be interesting
to see if they’ll allow the swapping of game files online, as
this would be a perfect way for Timesplitters to grow a
community, much in the manner that its PC forebears have done.
Each era has unique enemies to face, and an arsenal of chronologically
appropriate weapons to use (the futuristic missions contain natural
evolutions of today’s firearms, along with a few exotics). In
addition to providing tons of replay via the use of completely
different locales and times, choosing your difficulty level will
also have an affect on what you see and do. Not only does it affect
the number and toughness of your enemies, but entire sections
are added to each map to enhance the challenge to your FPS skills.
Control couldn’t be easier, with no fewer than three preset control
schemes, and the ability to completely customize every action.
This game was made with ease of use in mind.
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