TimeSplitters 2 Review

I was one of the lucky owners of a PS2 on the launch date of the system, and would have sold the darned thing due to a disappointing game lineup had it not been for the original Timesplitters title from Free Radical and Eidos. This game showed owners of the PS2 what the system could be capable of, and did a great job on the lighting, gameplay, and overall enjoyment. Us gamers talked about what improvements could have been made … they listened … and the result is one of, if not the best FPS title that I have played so far for any console system.

The concept and story behind Timesplitters 2 remains the same as the original, where you have to pursue and destroy an alien race that has taken time crystals into various time eras and threatens all of mankind’s future. Some of these areas are a return to some of the original levels, like Planet X, while new ones like 1920’s Chicago and the wild west of the 1800’s have been added in. Many of the characters from the original are back as well, like R-108 and my personal favorite … Harry Tripper, and over 100 new ones to play with and unlock as you progress through the stages and complete challenges.

If you’ve played the original, then some of the game modes won’t be anything new to you. There is the story mode, which has you completing stages to unlock the next one until you get to the very end. Also similar to the original, each stage will add more areas or parts onto it as you go up in difficulty, so that you can’t see or unlock everything by just playing through in easy mode. There’s arcade mode, which allows you to set up your own deathmatch or “Capture the Bag” games and is a free play style rather than following a set storyline, and there is the simple but fun as heck mapmaker which allows you to design and develop your own arenas to play in. So what’s different? Realistically, I could probably write about 4 pages … but I’ll just hit the high points for ya.

First off, the original title had you going through various stages and areas in story mode looking for an item, then you had to get back to the start point before getting gunned down. Timesplitters 2 doesn’t just have one objective … but a whole number of them. You may have to get an item, but be prepared to also do things like gun down a moving vehicle to prevent a mob boss’ brother from escaping, then meeting and escorting a contact back to his secret hideout, and the list goes on and on … just for that one level. I won’t say anymore so that I don’t ruin it, but it adds so much more depth and gives it a little more personality than just running around and blowing everything away. In addition, there are also secondary objectives that you can complete as well, which make it more challenging and add to the fun of the game.

On a similar note, in story mode, there is a neat little intro and sometimes an ending scene, and a lot more character interaction which takes place throughout some of the stages as well. Not big cutscenes or anything to break up the action, but other people who may need help or rescuing … like damsels trapped in the cathedral of Notre Dame. On a more dangerous note, you may wind up in the middle of a battle between two warring alien factions … so you never really know what’s going to happen next. There are also some characters who will run in and fight alongside you for a period of time, which I thought was a really neat touch and added to the excitement and overall action factor that makes FPS titles so much fun, and almost every level contains a boss battle of some kind or another, which adds a lot more to the overall experience than just “get to the exit”.

Arcade mode was always a blast in the original and is even better this time around. Now, you have a lot more to choose from than just deathmatch or capture the bag … and there are multiple variations which can be unlocked to make it a lot more hectic and “edge of the seat” destructive action, like Vampire … which adds a second life meter which drains rapidly. The only way to fill it back up is to kill someone, or you die. Another one is Thief, which doesn’t score based on kills … but rather on coins that are picked up after someone has been flagged. So you may get the kill, then be killed on the way to get the coin, and your killer gets them both. There’s a whole lot more of them, but I’ll save them for you to find and enjoy. In addition, the arcade mode also features a huge “league”, which gives you objectives to reach in a certain time period for a nifty gold trophy, and an unlocked extra or two. There’s a ton of challenges in the arcade league and almost serves as a whole separate game in itself. 2 for 1 deal on this title in a way … not bad, eh?

The last mode is a return from the original as well, which is the sometimes silly and super difficult challenge mode. This time around, each challenge is divided into sections with three different things to do each in order to officially complete it. In the first one for example, you have to run around a Russian base setting timed mines and blowing all of the windows out of buildings in a certain time period, since you were challenged by a buddy. For the second part, you are notified that the commander got upset about the reckless usage of explosives, so now you have to run around and knock all of the windows out with bricks. Then the third part … oh never mind. Again I’m trying not to give too much away here, and I think you get the idea. It’s more challenging than the original and is a riot to play.

TS2 also makes a heck of an impact in the area of weaponry that can be picked up and used. There are a ton of different and unique weapons that can be utilized or unlocked, some from the original like rocket launchers and sniper rifles … and some which are completely new. For example, there is now a crossbow which in itself is pretty nifty. Use a flamethrower to torch and kill an enemy, then dip your crossbow into the burning corpse to add fire to the bolts that you shoot out. Cool huh? Also, there are some sillier things like bricks to throw (there they are again) or fire extinguishers, which can be used not so much as a weapon … but to put out a teammate who has been set ablaze by a rival team member. There’s also some stages that contain weapons that are already there, like mounted machine guns or cannons which can be operated to give some additional cover and firepower.

All of this being said … I had a really had a hard time finding anything wrong with TS2 or anything that really could have been done better. The biggest issue is in the game challenge for story mode, which on easy mode will be difficult, but not impossible. It can and probably will result in do-overs as you get higher up in difficulty, but each stage in story mode has checkpoints so that you don’t have to go all the way back to the beginning if you get killed. Secondly, I was a little disappointed by the mapmaker mode for the simple reason that it didn’t seem to have enough new tiles to make it a really new experience, but overall it was still a blast to create new maps and areas to run arcade mode style play in. Lastly, this game would have ROCKED online, but unfortunately, that just didn’t make it to the final cut. Even so, the lack of online multiplayer isn’t going to kill the experience or take away from the enjoyment of the game overall.

Graphically, this game sports some fantastic lighting and lighting effects, great explosions, excellent character models and animation, great level design, and some really cool cutscenes and extra touches … like exploding windows or security cameras. The sounds of gunfighting really put you into the middle of a warzone at times, and the music was designed for each time period to set the atmosphere and mood … or add an adrenaline fueled soundtrack to the deathmatch arenas to heighten the excitement.

OK … if you are an FPS fan … I want you to do this for me. Click “Start” in the lower left of your screen, go to “shut down windows”, and be in the car and on the way to the store to buy this before the CPU shuts off. There is a slim to none chance that you will be disappointed with this purchase, and it will provide hours of fun, frags, and destructive mayhem to satisfy your FPS craving. If you like action-based titles but haven’t really played or gotten into first-person shooters, this one will give you an idea of how they should be … and will show you why there are so many of us major FPS fans out there. Lock and load GZ readers, it’s gonna be one heck of a flame throwing, rocket launching, mutant killing ride. My hats off to Eidos and Free Radical for this one.

Reviewer’s Scoring Details

Gameplay: 9.3

Good gosh. There’s a multitude of unlockable things here, and this game isn’t going to be an easy one to beat. The environments are larger and enemies are smarter. The story mode is fun, and will build onto levels as you go, so you’ll see new things as you move up in difficulty. The arcade mode has a ton of things to do as well, and the controls are easy to get into and play for anyone who is a PS2 FPS veteran. Tons of weapons, tons of characters, and a neat intro to each level.

Graphics: 9.1

Fantastic lighting and effects, great level design, and the same little bulbous, unique characters and animations found in the first game. Explosions look great, tons of onscreen action, and no slowdown.

Sound: 9.2

Also superb. Everything from weapons to moaning of zombies adds to the experience. The music is unique for each stage and sets the tone for the level, and deathmatch arena music is often fast paced and meant to set a tone for high speed destruction.

Difficulty: Medium

FPS veterans will find this challenging but not impossible in higher levels. Newcomers will have a challenge up front on easy mode, but it does a good job of balancing the learning curve so it doesn’t throw too much at new gamers at one time.

Concept: 9.1

Same story, but there is really no comparing the original with TS2. There is so much extra that they added in and did differently this time around.

Multiplayer: 8.9

Up to 16 can play through a link adapter, and four per PS2. Multiplayer mayhem at least, but the online mode would have been awesome.

Overall: 9.5

This is one of the most action filled and intense gaming experiences that I have had to date. Eidos and Free Radical outdid the original, which was also fantastic, and any FPS fan owes it to themselves to pick this one up. Action gamers who may not have played many FPS games need to try this one out, and I have seen it turn two gamers who didn’t like FPS games into fans. Nuff said.

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