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Timesplitters

Developer: Free Radical | Publisher: Eidos Interactive
Players: 1 to 2 Player Game | Release Date: 10/23/00 | Genre: RPG

Fans of multi-player matches on Golden Eye and Perfect Dark, listen up. This game is for you. Free Radical's newest FPS release is out. Pick up this game, grab a case of brew, a few of your best friends to mutilate, and call in sick for the day. You won't regret it...

And then there was Story Mode or so the game likes to call it. Not that there's a story. Every single player level is a slightly more elaborate version of "steal the bacon." I kid you not, dear readers. Story mode involves dropping characters from varying time periods onto a map with the mission objective explained in one sentence: "Retrieve the [enemy's item] and return it to [the place you started from]." This lack of variety gets tiring very quickly. The player never receives any information about the characters he plays as, nor about the story surrounding their missions. It's really a pitiful excuse for a single player game. If one is able to play through the "Story Mode' missions, they are treated with "Challenge Mode", an equally worthless, "Kill X number of people in X amount of time" experience. The only conceivable bright side to story mode is ability to multi-player cooperatively. Of course, with the cheesy "steal the bacon" objective, you'll probably end up shooting your partner out of boredom anyway. My friend wasn't nearly as amused by that move as I was.

In terms of graphics and sound, the game is average. The level and character textures aren't especially intricate. I didn't notice any jagged edges though, and the frame rate was very smooth. The player is treated to a variety of comical death moans and bullets make different sounds as they strike different surfaces.

The controls are a strong suit. Player movement is controlled by the two analog sticks, with the shoulder buttons serving as the fire, alt fire, duck, and aim buttons. Yes, pressing L2 brings up an ugly, boring plus sign of a crosshair. I was very disappointed after the cool crosshairs used in Golden Eye and Perfect Dark. Nevertheless, I digress. The controls are equally as fluid as the frame rate, and once you get used to the double stick system, you'll find you can move and aim much more easily than with the N64 controller.

With any first-person shooter, the quality and variety of weaponry must be taken into account. You'll seldom find a more diverse assortment of weaponry than in Timesplitters. Weapons from the past, present, and future are all included. Everything from muskets to science fiction guns are at your disposal. I was a little disappointed by the miniscule explosions released by the grenade and rocket launchers. Fortunately, a direct hit comically launches your victim up into the air, thus making me less bitter about the mini-bombs.

All that aside, arcade mode multi-player is where the real fun resides. Timesplitters offers a plethora of setup options. You can customize your own weapon sets, number of bots, as well as toggle old favorites like one hit kills on and off. Once you get tired of the senseless violence of deathmatches (yeah, right), there are several other fun modes to play in. In Bagtag, my personal favorite, whoever holds the bag for the most time in X number of minutes gets the win.

As for cool extras, I'd be lynched if I didn't talk about the level editor. Players can build their own maps up to seven stories high. Created levels are stored on your memory card, and require very little space. The reason they require very little space, however, is that the game forces you to choose one of several tilesets (i.e. gothic, alien) for each map. The map is saved in its basic, skeletal form, and then the textures are loaded in when you choose the map. This limits a creator's ability to fully customize his level. I miss the old Duke Nukem 3D level editor for the computer. Sure, it took awhile to learn to use, but it offered greater ability to customize your level exactly as you wanted it. In short, the level editor was a great, revolutionary idea, but it still could've been better.

In conclusion, Timesplitters is fun, pure and simple. If simplicity doesn't do it for you, however, I'd advise a different title for your FPS needs.

By Farmer Monkey - 08/01/00
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Screenshots for Timesplitters

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