TGS 2003Time Crisis 3 Impressions

The third arcade installment in Namco's peek-a-boo light-gun game is coming to the PlayStation 2 next month.

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The Time Crisis series has always focused on one additional gun-fighting aspect that other light-gun games don't: taking cover. While other games are content to leave your viewpoint and, by default, your well-being out in the open, Time Crisis added another layer by letting you quickly pop behind a nearby object to reload, regroup, and prepare yourself to come out gunning. Time Crisis 2 refined the concept by making it a two-screen, two-player game, meaning each player takes a slightly different route through the level, crossing paths at key moments. Time Crisis 3 keeps that two-player mode from Time Crisis 2 and adds another twist in the form of an on-the-fly weapon select, so you can make sure you're always using the best weapon for the job.

By pulling the trigger on the GunCon 2 while either waiting for an action sequence or ducking behind an object, you can cycle through your four weapons. The default handgun has infinite ammo, so you're limited on how many shots you can take with the machine gun, shotgun, or grenade launcher. Shooting certain enemies, however, will cause more ammo for your various secondary weapons to appear. The weapon select adds a bit of strategy to the game, because you can now choose to save up your highly damaging grenades for a tough boss, or just use them to clear the screen when things get too heavy.

Another addition to the game is a sniper rifle, which comes into play on certain levels. You'll use this weapon to eliminate enemies via the rifle's scope view before they can reach a group of people you're trying to protect. The scope pops up when you let off of the duck button and disappears when you go into hiding.

The PlayStation 2 version of Time Crisis 3 follows the arcade release pretty closely in its main mode. You can play the game alone on a full screen or play two-player on a split-screen display that is shrunk to maintain the proper aspect ratio. Widescreen TV owners will be able to fill their 16:9 screens in the two-player mode.

Time Crisis 3's US release is scheduled for next month. It will be published in two different packages that let you choose whether to purchase a GunCon 2 light-gun peripheral alongside the game or not.

See more of GameSpot's coverage of the 2003 Tokyo Game Show.

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