TimeSplitters 2 Updated Preview

Check out our exclusive multiplayer impressions of Eidos Interactive's upcoming first person shooter.

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Eidos recently popped by and let us play a demo of TimeSplitters 2's multiplayer mode. Given developer Free Radical's experience with multiplayer mayhem--many of the people on the staff worked on the previous TimeSplitters game and GoldenEye for the Nintendo 64--we've been eager to see what they've cooked up. In a cruel twist of fate, the demo offered us only two levels to explore and teased us with 11 levels that were listed but locked. Still, we were able to get a taste of how the game's multiplayer mode is shaping up, and we're definitely intrigued.

Four player split screen love.
Four player split screen love.

The first multiplayer level we played in, Training Ground, starts you out in the interior of a military installation and opens up into an outdoor area that runs through a canyon and ends up at a waterfall. The exterior is peppered with barrels and stationary machine-gun turrets waiting to be commandeered and put to good use, and rock formations and partially demolished buildings provide decent cover and good vantage points to wreak havoc from. Additionally, the waterfall at the end of the canyon area provides more than a cosmetic touch, as you'll come to rely on it to douse the pain of being set on fire by flamethrower-wielding opponents. You'll find a lethal and satisfying assortment of weapons strewn about the area. You'll start out with a Soviet 547 rifle and come across a sniper rifle, an assault shotgun, and the aforementioned flamethrower in your crazed killing spree. In addition, you'll find the expected health and armor power-ups. The skins for the level stayed close to the military theme, offering a basic assortment of male and female soldiers.

You will learn to hate and fear the flamethrower.
You will learn to hate and fear the flamethrower.

The second multiplayer level we had a look at, the Mexican Village, is a bit larger than the training ground but follows the same general layout as the training ground, mixing exterior and interior areas. The outdoor areas were more wide open in this level, though, offering little in the way of cover and promoting massive shooting sprees. You'll find some respite in the small huts that offer cover and weapon, armor, and health power-ups. On the other hand, the cramped interiors, which are reminiscent of a typical Spanish mission, force you stay alert or risk being cut down before you can draw a bead on your opponent. The level also contains a fountain that serves the same purpose as the waterfall in Training Ground. Your arsenal will consist of stylish dual Lugers, a plasma rifle, a shotgun, and the reviled flamethrower. You'll find the various power-ups in strewn in some rather sadistic places throughout the level. Sure, that plasma rifle sitting in the middle of the courtyard looks tantalizing, but you're likely to be plugged from all sides as you race for it. To add insult to injury, the character skins in the Mexican Village provided some seriously potent ego checks--along with your assortment of Western-themed men and women with gravity defying bosoms, the level featured a monkey skin. While we applaud the inclusion of the skin--after all, there's something innately satisfying in seeing a cute monkey wielding all manner of firepower--it's not very cool to be killed by said simian and have "Killed by Monkey" come up onscreen for all to see.

The control in the game's multiplayer mode obviously mirrors the setup found in the single-player game. If the default setup isn't to your liking, you'll be able to choose from a variety of presets and even customize your layout if you want. As in our last look at the game, we still had some nagging issues with the control--and they were exacerbated by persecution from the monkey--but other than that, the control in game is solid.

TimeSplitters 2 multiplayer is a blast to play.
TimeSplitters 2 multiplayer is a blast to play.

Graphically, the game looked fine, featuring solid modeling for the environments and characters. The detail was well done though a bit sparse, and the texture work and various special effects were also solid--especially the fire and particle effects from weapons fire. The most impressive facet of the game's graphics is the high frame rate. Our build supported up to four players on one console and never slowed during multiplayer split-screen bouts. The Xbox and GameCube versions of the game were very close to each other graphically and were nearly indistinguishable from each other.

Staying alive will really be a challenge thanks to the plethora of firepower available.
Staying alive will really be a challenge thanks to the plethora of firepower available.

Sadly, while our multiplayer build of the game supported up to four players on one console, it didn't offer any online play. At present, the PlayStation 2 version of the game is confirmed to have online play, while the Xbox and GameCube version's online plans haven't been determined. In spite of that omission, we were pleased by what we were able to play. TimeSplitters 2's multiplayer more is shaping up to be a satisfying experience, we're eager to see more of it. Given how the Training Ground and Mexican Village levels played out, we're curious to see how the other 11 levels--Hospital, Circus, Hangar, Robot Factory, Ice Station, Scrap Yard, Nightclub, Dam, Aztec, NeoTokyo, and Wild West--will turn out.

Check out our exclusive media of the game in action, and look for more on TimeSplitters 2 as the game's fall ship date approaches.

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