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Stephen (Scribbler) Zillwood January 25, 2001 Review Feedback


Take 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 the Timesplitters.

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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Release Date:

Eidos Interactive

Free Radical Design


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