Reviewed: January 25, 2003
Released: October 8, 2002
The game is called TimeSplitters 2 (TS2), the creators are the geniuses at Free Radical Design and Eidos, and the results are spectacular. While this is not the absolute greatest game you have ever played it is definitely one of the best first person shooters I have played in a while. For those of you not familiar with the TimeSplitters story the official web site describes the games thusly:
Prepare to battle through history as the evil TimeSplitters get ready to rise again!!
The year is 2401. A futuristic space station loiters on the fringe of time and space, inhabited by an evil race known as the TimeSplitters. Growing in strength and numbers, they have only one purpose in life Ė to destroy all human existence!
An elite troop of space marines has been sent to overpower these evil creatures but they are fighting a losing battle. The last two remaining marines fight their way to the heart of the station, where the TimeSplitters keep their secret weaponÖ the time portal. Powered by nine rare crystal shards it enables the TimeSplitters to leap from one generation to another, changing the course of history for the good of their own. The marines arrive as the last two crystals disappear through the portal in the hands of the enemy.
The only way to stop the TimeSplitters evil reign continuing is to follow them into the portal and recover the nine crystals before they are lost forever. The marines take a leap into the unknown, without any idea as to which time period they will end up in and without any idea as to what the future - or past - will hold!
I really canít describe the concept of the game any better than that but I can elaborate on it. This game is a gem. In fact it is more like a bag of gems because the game contains many options for play that makes it like buying four games in one. Even if only the single player mode were available on this game it would still be excellent, but as luck would have it you get more. There is a story mode, an arcade mode, multiplayer modes and enough challenges to keep you playing indefinitely.
The game is also packed with a huge amount of weapons and characters. TS2 is undoubtedly the finest and most expansive FPS in gaming history. With the ambition and experience displayed by the men and women that worked on this title I can see no limits to the quality games we will see from Free Radical Design and Eidos in the future.
The gameplay is the true heart and soul of TS2. There is such a variety of game modes that it is hard to know where to begin but we have to start somewhere so let me begin with the settings where the game takes place. During the playing of TS2 you will get to experience many varied and sometimes historic eras in human history. Nowhere in gaming can you travel to so many varied places and times and do so with such splendor.
There are nine fantasy and realistic time zones to travel to in TS2. While playing you will visit Siberia in 1990, Chicago in 1932, Paris in 1895, a robot factory in 2315, South China Sea in 1972, American West in 1853, Aztec Ruins in 1920, Tokyo in 2019 and the mysterious Planet X in 2280. Each one of these levels is extremely well done and has age specific weaponry available for you to acquire and use.
To go along with the multitude of venues there is a massive amount of characters. In the Challenge and Arcade modes. In Challenge mode you are given specific tasks to accomplish like breaking all of the glass on a certain level, shooting off the heads of all the zombies and sneaking into a certain area for example. These are only a few of the challenges available. In arcade mode you can compete against up to 3 of your friends or a group of computer controlled opponents in various sorts of death matches. In both modes there are literally hundreds of combinations of gameplay available for you to choose from.
The actual gameplay of TS2 is awesome both in concept and control. During the playing of the story mode you will be transported to the various times as different characters. This helps to immensely improve gameplay as each character has different abilities and weaponry. For example in the old west time you use weapons like rifles and six-shooters and while going to Chicago in 1932 you can use good old mobster weapons like the tommy gun. Because you change times and characters TS2 plays like nine games in one in the story mode. To go along with the multitude of levels is a choice of difficulty for each time. It is very hard to complete the story mode when you select the hardest levels. The selection of the difficulty for each level will have you playing TS2 for a long time.
The game controls are the best I have seen in a FPS. It is very easy to navigate each level and changing weapons is a breeze. The animations are incredibly smooth, even with an army of enemies ahead of you, and there was no noticeable slowdown of the frame rate while playing this game. Weapons can be selected by cycling through them on the pad. This makes it very easy to change weapons when the need arrives. There are also plenty of settings available in the options screen to customize the controls. This will help enhance your experience by allowing you to set up the controls practically any way you want.
There are an endless amount of variations available for the gameplay but the game itself also has a few twists. During each level you are given a list of objectives that you must complete. Some of these objectives become a little tricky, as sometimes you need to solve a puzzle in order to complete the objective. Most of the puzzles are very straightforward but a few of them take some thought. The puzzle aspects of the levels add even more to an already great game. Not only do you get a great FPS but also you get some free RPG and puzzle games tossed in for free.
While there is tons of stuff you can talk about with the gameplay in TS2 perhaps the finest aspect is the computer AI. The computer opponents you encounter throughout the game are relentless. In the death match and story modes you will definitely be the hunted. When an enemy get a lock on you it is hard to shake them. It is either kill or be killed. The computer-controlled opponents are sneaky and focused on disposing of you. The absolute best way to survive in this game is to recruit a friend and play in a cooperative mode to survive. With the help of a friend you will find it much easier to get through the levels, although it is still not easy by any means.
TS2 has superb gameplay and controls and because of this the gameplay receives the highest score I have ever given. I am sure I will find it hard to find a title that plays better than this one. This game is easy to learn and a joy to play.
The graphics in TS2, while not perfect, are extremely close. Both the environments and the characters are very well done and visually pleasing. The depth of the environments make it a pleasure to travel throughout time and the amazingly detailed and varied characters add another level of realism to the setting themselves.
Each level has its own details that make you think that you have actually entered a new time in history. From the gritty streets of gangster-era Chicago to the dusty streets of the old west each level has a personality of its own. If you had to imagine what the surroundings of a particular time in history looked like you would probably be imagining the levels on TS2. While there could still be a little work done to the scenery it is still very good.
The only thing that could be done differently or better is the immediate surroundings. The backgrounds are very detailed and deep but the surroundings sometimes feel as if they donít belong. There is a little less detail in some of the buildings which if improved would add to the game a lot. An example of this is the lack of furnishings in the buildings you enter. I was amazed to walk into a room only to find just a table or two. I was expecting fully furnished rooms and a completely interactive environment. Well I guess you canít have everything.
The peripheral characters in TS2 are also done very well. Each enemy has a distinct look from the zombies to the natives in the Aztec level. I have never seen such a varied amount of opponents in any game. Each level has a complimentary cast of characters that are specific to their time. To go along with the characters themselves is the quality animations for these characters.
Each opponent has almost life-like reactions to being shot and also excellent movement animations. The animations coupled with the variety of characters makes for a quality gaming experience. The animations and character detail also help to divide the times and make each one seem like a completely different game.
Overall the graphics are much better than most games but as always, there could be some minor adjustments or improvements that would push them over the edge.
The sound in TS2 does an excellent job of stetting the mood of each era of time. A specific and different musical theme is prevalent in each different level. There is ragtime music in the Chicago era and western theme music during the old west level and other level specific tunes for each differing level. While the music is a good background accompaniment to the levels, the true sound capabilities of TS2 occur during the heat of battle.
The sounds of mayhem in TS2 are incredible. This is especially true in the futuristic settings when there are many laser guns and pulse weapons firing. The electricity from the weapons produces crackles, hisses and ricochets that are truly amazing. When there are many weapons firing at once there is almost an aural overload. The sound production team deserves a pat on the back for their sound effects.
The only part of the sound in TS2 that is lacking is the voice acting. Most of the voice acting takes place in the cut scenes but there is a little dialogue in some of the levels. The voice acting and in game dialogue are very flat. There is something in the voices that donít convey a real believability. It almost seems as if the voice acting was done by an uninterested third party and not someone attached to the game itself. This isnít always the case. Some of the voice acting is well done but nothing really stands out as superb which causes one to want to skip the cut scenes in order to jump right into the action.
Overall, the people at Free Radical Designs have done an excellent job with the sound and should be proud of their efforts. In future TimeSplitters offerings the addition of some quality voice acting could push this title even further. Not that it has far to go.
What else can you say about the value of TS2 other than it has maximum value. With the multiplayer modes and varying difficulty of the story mode the possibilities are endless. Never has there been a more diverse and varied title. The only thing that would have bumped the value level into regions unknown would have been the addition of online compatibility.
There is enough content included in this title to keep the occasional gamer occupied for many months. Even the daily gamer will play TS2 longer than any recently released title. The greatest thing about this game is that even when you finish the story mode you can then move on to the challenges and death matches. These two modes will keep you occupied for years, or at least until the next TimeSplitters comes out. If youíre looking for a title that you can get a lot of gameplay from then you should definitely look into purchasing TS2.
Basically any fan of any game genre will like TS2. This game packs enough challenges and variety to satisfy any gamerís needs. FPS fans should consider this a must buy title and anyone else needs to at least give it a shot.
Free Radical Design and Eidos have a bonafide hit on their hands. The future looks extremely bright for this talented group of game designers. The insight and design shown in TS2 is without an equal. As an added plus, this game is both an audio and visual experience that shouldnít be missed.
After having experienced TS2 I cannot wait for TS3. I am sure that the addition of online play, they tried to put online play in TS2, will make this game a number one smash hit. The online gaming experience, while still in its infancy in terms of the amount of players utilizing it, is the wave of the future and I would expect that a title like TimeSplitters could vault this type of gameplay into the mainstream very easily.