TimeSplitters 2 Preview
We check out a near final version of Eidos and Free Radical's upcoming first person shooter.
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When it was released two years ago at the PlayStation 2 launch, the original TimeSplitters offered a solid dose of first-person shooting action. Developed by Free Radical, whose staff includes former Rare employees who cut their teeth on the Nintendo 64 classic GoldenEye, the game played well and had some of the best multiplayer action to be found in the infancy of Sony's powerhouse console. While the original game still holds up, there's always a little room for improvement, especially in a launch title, which is something Free Radical has clearly taken to heart for its follow-up. For the latest installment in the series, TimeSplitters 2, the developer has expanded on the original game and beefed up the graphics and gameplay. In addition, TimeSplitters 2 is expanding the series' reach as well, with the game slated to ship for the GameCube, PlayStation 2, and Xbox. We checked out a near-final version of the Xbox version to see how it was all coming together.
You'll find three main gameplay modes in TimeSplitters 2--story, arcade, and challenge--as well as the return of the mapmaker feature. Story mode, as in the original game, will send you through themed levels set in various eras in search of aliens up to no good. On your journey to take out the bad guys, you'll work your way through such locales as 1990 Siberia, 1932 Chicago, 1895 Notre Dame, 2280 Planet X, 2019 neo-Tokyo, 1853 Wild West, 1920 Aztec ruins, 2315 robot factory, and finally a 2401 space station. Arcade mode will offer three types of game options: arcade league, arcade custom, and system link for multiplayer action. Challenge mode will feature 21 different timed challenges to work through. The tasks will be broken down into seven descriptively titled game types: glass smash, behead the undead, infiltration, banana chomp, cutout shootout, TimeSplitters story classic, and monkeying around. Each game type will offer three challenges that are variations on its theme. For example, behead the undead will initially require you to use a shotgun to hold off hordes of advancing zombies, but a later trial will require you to use your bare hands. Finally, the game's mapmaker feature will let you release your inner level designer by providing a very functional toolset so you can create your own maps.
After spending some time with the game, we have to say we've been pretty taken with one of the game's low-key additions to the single-player game. As you make your way through the various levels in the game, you'll discover little cartridges that you can use in conjunction with your character's PDA. While the cartridges don't carry any mission-critical information, they do contain little minigames along the lines of those you'd find on a cell phone. Old-school gamers will get a healthy dose of déjà vu from the games, thanks to the inclusion of some prehistoric classics like Lunar Lander. The games will provide a nice diversion from all the carnage, and you'll be able to play them on your PDA whenever you want.
From what we've seen so far, TimeSplitters 2 is looking sharp on the Xbox. Our only issue with the game is the turning speed, which is a little slow for our tastes. TimeSplitters 2 is currently slated to ship this September for the Xbox. The GameCube and PlayStation 2 versions will also ship at that time.