October 1, 2002
TimeSplitters 2 - Preview
Release Date Publisher Developer Anticipation Players Price
25/10/2002EidosFree Radical Design1-16 i.Link$109.95

Click To Enlarge Image
Stuck in rush hour.
One of the biggest games at the Playstation 2 launch was an original First Person Shooter developed by Free Radical Design called TimeSplitters. Although the game was never officially reviewed on this site, I can tell you that it was extremely good fun with great graphics and gameplay. After almost two years development the sequel is about to be released and it looks to be substantially improved. Unfortunately, Free Radical Design confirmed in mid-2002 that the planned online gameplay has been dropped, but the game still supports 4-players split screen or 16 players through the i/Link cable, something that should guarantee this is a massive hit when released in late 2002.

Click To Enlarge Image
Outdoor levels look amazing.
One of the biggest additions to this sequel is the focus on a storyline in the game. The evil race of TimeSplitters are traveling 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 1920íS, the lush jungles of Aztec temples, soviet military installations of the cold war and Futuristic robot factories in space. 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.

Click To Enlarge Image
Check out the laser blast effects.
As with most sequels there are many improvements to this game. By far the biggest improvement in this game is the addition of 16 player support with the i.Link. Sadly, the online gameplay, as previously mentioned, hasn't made it into the final game due to a lack of infrastructure for online gaming from Sony. Free Radical are also including a 4-player split screen mode to keep non-networkable gamers happy. As well as the single player game, it will be possible to complete the game in a co-operative mode with a friend on a single console, something that should prove to be tremendous fun.

Click To Enlarge Image
Time to start blasting.
Free Radical are promising over 90 characters for the game, all of which are fully animated with facial animation such as moving mouths and eyes. Even the characters teeth are full 3D polygon models. Much like the first game we can also expect a blistering frame rate. The game engine has been completely overhauled from the first game to accommodate bigger environments and special graphical effects while staying true to the distinctively smooth, break-neck paced action that the original TimeSplitters is famously known for. The development team have also incorporated an inverse kinematics system to create even more lifelike movement in all the characters. After playing the game for some time now I have no hesitation in saying that it not only looks stunning and runs absolutely smoothly. It wouldn't be unfair to say that this game visually surpasses the graphics in Electronic Arts' impressive Medal of Honor Frontline. It certainly has a much better frame rate at 60fps as opposed to 30fps in EA's game.

Click To Enlarge Image
The lighting in the levels is superb.
Another of the impressive elements in the game is the destruction of objects withing levels. Cameras and lights can be shot out to hide you from the enemy, barrels and boxes can be shot to create explosions to kill or injure the enemies while other less gameplay related objects such as chairs, tables and windows can also be destroyed by your gunfire.

Click To Enlarge Image
Very, very strange enemies.
The unique MapMaker makes a return in the sequel, and has been greatly enhanced opening up even more potential to the advanced gamer looking for customizable game scenarios. This allows you to create all new levels and designs to use in the game, and save to memory card.

It has been a great year for First Person Shooters on the Playstation 2, and it looks set to continue until the end of the year. As well as TimeSplitters 2 we will also be playing with Turok Evolution and Red Faction 2 this Christmas, each of which promise to be superb games. But while Turok has a strong history of games on the Nintendo 64, and Red Faction 2 includes the Geo-Mod technology for destructable levels, TimeSplitters 2 has 16-player support, some gorgeous visuals and stunning gameplay, all of which should combine to make this a must-have title in Octber.