By: Matt C. on October 27, 2002
In the beginning, there was Goldeneye and Perfect Dark on the Nintendo 64, which single-handedly proved that first person shooters could be enjoyable on a console system. Next came TimeSplitters, which was a rushed product, but it still managed to become one of the best PlayStation 2 multiplayer games ever created. Fast forward to 2002 where Free Radical Design (formed by several key members from Goldeneye and Perfect Dark) has kept the tradition alive with the recent release of TimeSplitters 2.
One thing the original TimeSplitters was heavily criticized for was the lack of depth in the Story mode. Even the game's producers admitted that it didn't turn out as well as they wanted it. With TimeSplitters 2, Free Radical Design has added various objectives to each mission which really gives the Story mode a lot more depth. For example, one objective has you shooting down UFOs with a massive turret, while another has you helping the Hunchback of Notre Dame fight off hordes of incoming zombies. Boss battles have also been thrown into the mix. These battles are rather straightforward, but they are still very entertaining.
Much like the previous game, the Story mode in TS2 can be played cooperatively with a friend using a split-screen view. Sure, killing your friend in a deathmatch is nice and all but providing cover fire and helping him complete objectives is a lot more fun. And if you beat all ten Story mode levels on easy and go back and play it on normal, each mission will have additional objectives that will make you want to play through the game again.
However, in order to unlock more cheats, you'll need play through the Challenge mode. If you haven't played the original TimeSplitters, the Challenge mode basically has you performing various "challenges" against pre-selected enemies and weapons to unlock more stuff. In one challenge, you have to break a certain amount of windows under a certain time limit without using any guns -- you can only use bricks. If you don't break enough windows, you need to try it again.
The Arcade mode is back but this time it is split up into two sections. One is called the Arcade League and the other is simply titled Arcade Custom. The Arcade League offers a large number of quick battles against predetermined enemies, locations, and weapons. Beating each battle will earn new multiplayer characters and maps. All in all, there are over 100 playable characters and 16 multiplayer maps to choose from (assuming that you unlock all of them).
As for the Arcade Custom mode, it allows the user to create and host a multiplayer game of up to 16 people via a LAN or i.Link cable. Or you can simply host 4 people on one PS2 and TV and play a game of Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Zones, Virus, Gladiator, Monkey Assistant, Capture the Bag, Bag Tag, Elimination, Shrink, Vampire, Thief, Flame Tag, Regeneration, or Leech (whew!). And if you are wondering, up to 10 bots can be added if you don't have enough human players to fill up all the available slots.
Lastly, TimeSplitters 2 offers an improved MapMaker mode. This time around, you can create single-player levels, as well as the usual multiplayer maps. More items can you placed in your map, including useable gun turrets. Even triggers and scripts can be used in the single-player maps! For instance, if you want a butt load of enemies to appear once the player collects an item, you can do that! Wannabe level designers who are not ready for complex design software found on the PC will definitely be pleased with TS2's MapMaker mode.
As for the graphics, TimeSplitters 2 is certainly the best looking PS2 First Person Shooter to date. All of the characters and levels look really smooth and the animations are great. The lighting effects are also quite stunning -- especially from many of the laser guns in the game. Also, Free Radical Design has managed to mimic some of the visual effects from Metal Gear Solid 2. For example, if it is raining or snowing and you look up, transparent water drops or snow flakes will collect on the screen. Yeah, we've all seen it before, but it is still very impressive.
The sound effects for each weapon is basically standard stuff. In fact, the silenced pistol sounds exactly the same as it did in Goldeneye. I like the music in TimeSplitters 2 better than I did in the first game though. I also really like how you can select what song you want to listen to before each multiplayer battle.
In the end, I truly believe that TimeSplitters 2 is one of the best PlayStation 2 games of the year. The only major flaw I can find with the game is the lack of online support. Now that I think about it, that is the only reason why TS2 isn't getting a perfect score from me. But don't let that stop you from checking this game out, because TimeSplitters 2 provides a near perfect offline experience.