Time Crisis 3|
By: Matt C. on November 14, 2003
The Time Crisis series has been around since 1995, and with each new installment that gets introduced in arcades (and some movie theaters), Namco has always ported the game over to console systems with amazing results. In fact, this is one characteristic that Namco is famous for. With Time Crisis 3, Namco has managed to keep the tradition alive by providing Time Crisis fans (and new comers) with a perfect port of the arcade version, plus loads of new content.
All three of the previous Time Crisis titles (Time Crisis, Time Crisis: Project Titan, and Time Crisis II) have always been about its patented "duck and shoot" style gameplay, and Time Crisis 3 is certainly no exception. While your character is ducking, he or she cannot be harmed by enemy fire. It is not possible to return fire while hiding behind objects, so you must pop-up and shoot enemies when it is safe. In order to reload your weapon or dodge incoming bullets, missiles, grenades, knives, or claws, you must retreat to safety.
Time Crisis 3 may sound too simple to be any fun, but its simplistic gameplay is actually one of its charming qualities. While RPGs or puzzle games might be too complex for some people to get into due to their steep learning curves, Time Crisis 3 is one of the easiest next-generation "pick-up and play" games you'll ever come across. Even if you've never played a Time Crisis game in your life, ducking and shooting will become second-nature to you within minutes.
And for those of you who are not new to light-gun titles, Time Crisis 3's new Weapon Selection System is sure to add some variety to your experience with the game. While ducking, simply pull the trigger to switch between your available weapons, which includes a shotgun, machine gun, grenade launcher, and the traditional handgun. The handgun has infinite ammo (and does the least damage), but to balance everything out, you can only carry a limited amount of the other weapons. The only way to replenish your supply is by shooting yellow enemies that occasionally appear on the screen. All in all, the Weapon Selection System injects some well needed strategy elements into Time Crisis' aging play mechanics.
Time Crisis 3 offers three main modes of play -- Arcade Mode, Rescue Mission Mode, and Crisis Mission Mode. The Arcade Mode (which consists of 3 stages) is obviously identical to the original arcade version. One aspect I really like about the Arcade Mode is that it is very challenging, but it never crosses the line to becoming overly frustrating. And if you are getting completely beat up by TC3's AI, then the game generously gives you an additional credit each time you fail to beat the game. It takes about 40-45 minutes to finish the Arcade Mode.
The unlockable Rescue Mission Mode is an exclusive (single-player only) mode found only in the console version of Time Crisis 3. Here, you revisit some of the same locales from the Arcade Mode as a new character, but the routes you take are usually very different. You can also upgrade your weapons once you completely fill up your damage meter. The more damage you inflict, the faster the meter fills up. There are even a few Sniper Stages in "Rescue Mission," which are actually quite fun once you get used to the slightly different control scheme. In the end, I found the Rescue Mission Mode to be a very nice addition to the game, and it is obvious that Namco didn't just slap it together at the last minute.
Lastly, the Crisis Mission Mode makes a return in TC3, which has you doing various missions -- each with unique objectives. You really have to stay on your toes if you wish to do well here.
Another one of Time Crisis 3's enticing features is the ability to play with a friend. The two-player mode comes in two flavors -- split-screen and i.Link setup. Split-screen is a tad awkward, because both screens are presented in a "widescreen/letterbox" type format. As a result, split-screen might be a problem with people who use small televisions. I also gave the i.Link mode a run as well, and it worked out perfectly. Having your own screen was a blast. Unfortunately, most people don't own two PS2's and have two TV's right next to each other, but it's nice to know that Namco still kept the i.Link setup for TC3.
As a light-gun game, Time Crisis 3 will obviously give the best experience when used with a GunCon 2. I gave the Arcade Mode a spin with just the Dual Shock 2, and it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, but it just wasn't the same as using the GunCon 2. With that said, I highly recommend putting down a little more money for the "Time Crisis 3 w/ GunCon 2" package. Trust me, it's worth it.
Time Crisis 3's graphics certainly won't blow you away, but it still looks great. In fact, it's definitely one of the best looking light-gun games out there. Each stage looks very different from each other, the animations are above average, and the destructible environments and objects are a nice touch (even though they aren't exactly new to the series). You really feel like you're in an action movie when playing Time Crisis 3.
During the course of Time Crisis 3, you'll come across some slowdown, but it's so rare that it doesn't detract from the game. Long story short, TC3's graphics get the job done.
The sound effects in Time Crisis 3 are basically a mixture of gunshots, explosions, groans, and generic taunts from many of the bosses. Not much else will come out of your speakers while playing the game, but considering that this is a light-gun title, I'm not complaining. If I want superior sound effects, I'll go play Medal of Honor: Rising Sun. Although, some surround sound would have been nice, but perhaps I am asking for too much?
The voice acting has plenty of room for improvement, but once again, it isn't very important for a game that doesn't have very much dialogue in the first place. The sound effects, music, and voice acting never gets annoying, so that's all that matters.
Overall, I found the PlayStation 2 version of Time Crisis 3 to be a perfect example of how a console-based light-gun game should be made. Sure, unlike other games, you probably won't want to play Time Crisis 3 for more than an hour at a time, but with challenging gameplay and so many unlockable goodies, you'll always come crawling back for more.
Official Time Crisis 3 Web Site