Is it really the successor to Goldeneye 007 and Perfect Dark? Yeah.
I’m not a huge fan of first-person shooters, but I know a great one when I play it. TimeSplitters 2 is easily the best FPS I’ve played since Perfect Dark, and in fact, it’s probably a better game than even that shooter masterpiece.
The Story mode doesn’t have a strong base material like Goldeneye 007 did, and the plot is even more disjointed than Perfect Dark’s, but the missions themselves are fantastic. Each one is prefaced with an excellent cut-scene that shows off the environment and introduces your overall objective. There are also several other primary objectives that have to be accomplished during the mission, plus a few secondary objectives that will unlock extra goodies if completed. Just like in Rare’s games, new objectives can and will pop up throughout the mission. My only problem with these surprise tasks is that the on-screen notice doesn’t indicate whether a new one is primary or secondary. You can pause and check the mission status screen, but it shouldn’t be necessary to break up the action like that.
Challenge mode is much more fun than I expected. Most of the tasks are silly and quite inventive, such as using bricks to break all the glass windows in a small area. Performing well on a challenge, which usually means finishing within a tough time limit, will unlock features for multiplayer. Unlike in Perfect Dark, it seems that Challenge mode is only for one player.
Half of Arcade mode is basically the same thing as Perfect Dark’s Challenge mode. You and up to one other player can play a themed deathmatch against computer-controlled “bots”. Unfortunately, I don’t think you can play these Arcade challenges with three our four players, unless that feature has to be unlocked later on. Regardless, the preset matches are quite entertaining, and their difficulty ramps up quickly. They also introduce you to many of the more unusual multiplayer features, like Virus and Vampire games, and performing well will unlock those modes for you to play with your friends.
The other half of Arcade mode, called Arcade Custom, is basically the multiplayer component of the game. You can play it by yourself with bots, but TimeSplitters 2 really shines with three or four players. The level of customization is insane; there are even five custom weapons sets that are saved in your player profile. You can also play with several bots, for a total of about eight players running around in each level. I still haven’t figured out all of the setup for bots, so you may be able to play with even more than that. Another fantastic multiplayer feature is two-player cooperative Story mode. I haven’t gotten to try it out yet, but I can’t wait.
Finally, TS2 includes a map editor, quite a rare feature for a console game. I only played around in this mode for a few minutes, but it seems quite flexible and easy to use. There are several tilesets to choose from, and when finished, the homemade stages look very fluid and solid. Naturally, you can use your custom maps for multiplayer battles, which could be a great feature if you’re willing to pour some serious time into the editor.
In every mode, the controls are exceptional. Dual-analog is now the standard setup for a console FPS, and the game lets you customize the controls quite a bit. The auto-aim is well executed, as its accuracy drops heavily if you’re moving and shooting at the same time. The manual aim works just like in Goldeneye, but if your gun doesn’t have zoom capabilities, you can walk around and use the manual aiming cursor at the same time. As far as I can tell, you can’t lean around corners in TS2; hopefully I just haven’t figured out how to do it yet. It’s a small but very cool feature that I’ve missed so far.
TimeSplitters 2 looks like a clean PS2 game. The polygonal models are fairly simple, and the environments aren’t particularly detailed, but the game generally looks pretty nice. There is some great lighting in a few levels, and the more advanced guns put on quite a show with all their lasers and plasma bursts. The best part is that the framerate never takes a hit. Even with three players (don’t have a fourth controller) and a handful of bots, my quadrant of the screen was smooth as hell. I’m not a framerate whore, but the difference is tremendous when compared to N64 shooters.
TS2 also fares well in the audio department. The music fits in very well for each time period, and the voice-acting is very respectable. Oh, and if you like the sound of bullets whizzing by your head, you’ll be in heaven. The sound effects and positioning, even in standard Stereo sound, are amazing.
So far, one of my favorite aspects of this game is that almost anything you do unlocks something else. Get a gold trophy on a single Challenge mode event and you may unlock three secret characters, a new multiplayer level, a new weapon, and a new multiplayer game setting. The game makes it very clear that it has plenty of stuff to unlock and that it enjoys rewarding you for a job well done.
I can’t recommend TimeSplitters 2 enough at this point. I’ve seen only a small fraction of what the game has to offer, and already I’m extremely impressed. The core gameplay is tight and fluid. The Story mode is challenging and very intense, and the multiplayer options are more than plentiful. This is simply a top-notch first-person shooter, and if you’re a fan of the genre, you should get it immediately.