TimeSplitters 2 Updated Preview

As good as GoldenEye? Read our impressions of TimeSplitters 2's multiplayer component to see if it's all that we've been hoping for.

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We recently checked out a demo of TimeSplitters 2 for the PlayStation 2 that offered a sampling of the game'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, as well as GoldenEye 007 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 clearly 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.

The crescent-shaped health meter is reminiscent of GoldenEye.
The crescent-shaped health meter is reminiscent of GoldenEye.

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 offer 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.

The second multiplayer level we had a look at, Mexican Village, is a bit larger than the training ground but follows the same general layout, 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 provide 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. 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 was the high frame rate. Our build supported up to four players on one console and never slowed during multiplayer split-screen bouts. The PS2 version of the game is very close to the Xbox and GameCube versions and was nearly indistinguishable from them outside of some slight aliasing weirdness that resulted in jaggies on certain surfaces.

While online support isn't in yet, TimeSplitters 2 is still quite fun.
While online support isn't in yet, TimeSplitters 2 is still quite fun.

Sadly, while our multiplayer build of the game supported up to four players on one console, it didn't offer any online play. A little online competition has been something we've been hankering for since we found out that this version of the game will support Sony's network, and Eidos is even planning i-Link support for offline play. In spite of that omission, we were pleased with the build we were able to play. TimeSplitters 2's multiplayer mode is shaping up to be a satisfying experience, and 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. Look for more on TimeSplitters 2 as the game's fall ship date approaches.

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