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November 18, 2002
TimeSplitters 2 - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
25/10/2002EidosFree Radical1-4 (16 i.Link)MA15+Medium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen

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It's getting pretty crowded there.
Looking at the launch titles on Playstation 2 it's amazing to think that some of these titles still hold up very well against most titles being release two years later. One of those games is TimeSplitters from the new development team, Free Radical Design, which pushed the boundaries in terms of graphics and multi-player gaming. Unfortunately due to a tight development schedule to get the game out by Christmas 2000 the single player mode was a little undercooked. Two years later and TimeSplitters 2 has hit the shelves with improved... well... everything.

For those of you unaware many members of Free Radical Design previously worked at Rare on the hit game Goldeneye for the Nintendo 64. The main reason for breaking away from Rare for the members of Free Radical was to work on a more powerful system - the Playstation 2 - and TimeSplitters was the result. Realising that the original TimeSplitters was missing that little something in the single player department Free Radical have put a lot of effort into making this not only the best multi-player FPS on the Playstation 2, but also the best single player game as well.

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The first level in Syberia.
The storyline of TimeSplitters 2 is fairly impressive, and allows for some great locations - not only throughout the world - but also through time. The evil race of TimeSplitters are travelling back into human history authoring events that are leading to the enslavement of mankind. In control of a motley crew of renegade characters you must hunt down the TimeSplitters across time in historical eras like the gangster - Ridden 1920's, the lush jungle Aztec temples, soviet military installations of the cold war and futuristic robot factories. To end the evil plot of the TimeSplitters, you must seek and recover the crystals required to seal the rift in time. The fate of humanity is in your hands.

Essentially TimeSplitters 2 is a First Person Shooter. But the developers haven't made this a straight out blaster from start to finish. During some levels, such as Neo Tokyo, you must use stealth to follow a hacker around the city avoiding the security cameras placed all over buildings. What is immediatly apparently is the amount of care that Free Radical have taken to fill the levels with enemies and a wide variety of weapons. The actual "feel" of the game is just right as well. But this is a game that has two distinct parts - single player and multi-player.

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The weapon effects are spectacular.
The wide range of single player game modes is easily among the best ever seen in a video game. The story based single player mode (although the story really isn't that crucial) includes 10 different missions including (in order) 1990 Siberia, 1932 Chicago, 1895 Notre Dame, 2280 Return to Planet X, NeoTokyo, 1858 Wild West, 1972 Atom Smasher, 1920 Aztec Ruins, 2315 Robot Factory, and 2401 Space Station. It may not sound like a lot, and if you set it to easy level you'll breeze through them. However, by setting the difficulty low you remove many of the level objectives. Setting it to medium or hard will significantly lengthen the game. These levels are superbly detailed and more importantly very different to one another. The 1932 Chicago level is filled with seedy bars and gangsters while Return to Planet X is filled with aliens and UFO's.

As well as the story mode TimeSplitters 2 has an arcade mode which includes League, Custom, and Network options and sees you trying to earn gold, silver or bronze medals depending on your performance. This mode contains smaller tasks to complete such as killing a certain number of enemies, not being touched by an enemy on fire etc. To top it all off the developers have included a Challenge mode which offers you over half a dozen unique challenges to complete. These range from the very average banana collecting level to the awesome glass smashing and head decapitation levels. Each Challenge level is broken up into 3 sections which increases in difficulty.

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Check out the zombies.
Looking at the multi-player options this game offers yet more variety. Firstly, it's possible to complete the single player story missions in a co-operative mode. As expected this adds a lot of fun to the game however it's the dedicated multi-player modes that really shine. In all Free Radical Design have included a massive 16 different multi-player modes for 4 players on a single console to participate in. If you have the means it's possible to link up several PS2's for 16 player fun. Most impressively the games frame rate and detail hold up very well even in the 4-player split screen. But getting back to the many game modes. These include Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Bag, Bag Tag, Elimination, Shrink, Vampire, Thief, Flame Tag, Virus, Regeneration, Leech, Zones, Assault, Gladiator, and Monkey Assistant. Each mode has a unique feature. The Deathmatch sees who can reach a certain number of kills first. Regeneration is similar but your health levels rebuild over time while in the virus mode you have to keep away from infected players. Of course all of these multi-player games are fully customisable with the amount of kills, time limits scoring methods, handicaps among others. Also selectable is the types of weapons within the games with a maximum of 16 in each level.

There are some real bonuses in this game that deserve mentioning. As well as being able to customise the controls to your own liking (including turning auto aim on or off) you can also change video options, audio options, enter cheats, as well as view cut scenes, trailers and credits. Perhaps the most unusual bonus in this game are the statistics which are kept throughout the game. These stats include things such as total kills, accuracy, time played, distance travelled as well as more unusual stats such as "Insomnia" which is the longest time playing without a break, limbs detached, heads taken off, longest killing spree and number of UFO's spotted. It is also possible to look at how many of the 120 characters you have unlocked to use throughout the game. Once again Free Radical Design have include a superb map-making mode in the game. This allows you to choose a theme and design a complete level including up to 10 enemies which can then be saved to memory card and then play it with your selected character. It's sensational stuff that will keep you entertained for days if not weeks.

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Some of the superb lighting.
When you review a game there are usually areas that stand out as falling behind the standards of the majority of the game. TimeSplitters 2 is an exception to that as everything seems perfect. In fact my only major problem with the game is a lack of a jump button. Yes, you heard right. You can't even get your character to jump up on a 2 foot ledge often resulting on the need to track through sections of the level to get back up on a ledge you'd just fallen off. Another niggle is the lack of USB keyboard and mouse support which is slowly becoming more common on Playstation 2 titles. Obviously the removal of online gameplay is a downer as well, especially given the news that some programmers have hacked the game in America and apparently got it running online.

Graphics are simply stunning in TimeSplitters 2. Running at a rock steady 50fps (there is no 60Hz mode sadly - but the game is optimised to run in fullscreen) there is not a hint of slowdown, even with over a dozen characters on screen shooting at each other. This is most in evidence on the alien planet where two alien races are facing off with each other while you are taking any of them out to help you progress. The characters themselves, and their animations, are also top notch and while they lack some personality with over 120 characters to select from it's easy to see each of your mates from a distance and identify them immediatly.

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Now that's a damn weird enemy.
Although this game only includes stereo rather then surround sound it is still an aural treat. The music incorporates a wide range from 1930's Chicago music in that level to more industrial/techno music in the alien planets and NeoTokyo. However it's the effects from the weapons that really do stand out in this game, as you could only hope. Even the pistols have a meaty enough effect to make sure you know when you're being fired at. It must also be mentioned that the speech in the cut scenes, while at time corny, suits the game perfectly.

When it comes to First Person Shooters few get close to the quality and depth of this title. The only other game that can get anywhere near the quality of TimeSplitters 2 is THQ's upcoming Red Faction 2. It's a real shame that the online gameplay wasn't retained in this title, although given that the online network is at least six months away in PAL territories it's not surprising. If you want a First Person Shooter that is excellent in all departments then look no further then TimeSplitters 2.

GRAPHICSBrilliant characters, solid frame rate, great locations and textures.
SOUNDOnly stereo sound, but atmospheric music and great sound effects.
GAMEPLAYThis is what all FPS's should be like. Addictive and very fun.
VALUESingle player will keep you going for a while, and then multi-player.
OVERALLTimesplitters 2 is one of the best FPS's ever, and that includes PC games. With so many game modes, 16 player i.Link support, superb graphics and sound and engrossing gameplay this game has it all. You won't (or should that be can't) be disappointed with TimeSplitters 2.

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