The original Timesplitters was released alongside the launch of the Sony PlayStation 2. It was a product made by Free Radicals, a developer team existing of amongst others, former Rare employees. Some of them had worked on the classic “Goldeneye” for the N64, which is now known as one of the best console FPS games of all time. So of course everyone was getting really excited about the project, but when it finally came out, it was clear that it was a rushed product. The singleplayer was its main failure. Every level had the same objective (enter enemy territory, get the object and bring it back) and the only reason anyone would play through it in singleplayer was to unlock more levels and features in multiplayer. The multiplayer was however brilliant. It can be argued whether it was the best multiplayer in a console fps up to that point, challenging both games like Goldeneye and Perfect Dark.
Now, two years later, its sequel Timesplitters 2 has hit stores and everyone is asking the same question: “Will Timesplitters 2 undo the faults the original had while still improve everything else”? The answer is that in many ways it does just that, but it could still have been done better. One thing you should note about Timesplitters 2 though before you read the review, is that it is an unusually deep console shooter and it I would be hard pressed to talk about every part of the game. I will try to cover the most important stuff, but if value is your main concern about a game then you should immediately run out and buy Timesplitters 2 as it is probably the console game with the most value since Morrowind was released for the Xbox.
As far as plot goes, Timesplitters 2 barely has one. The story is that there is an evil alien race known as the “Timesplitters” which is a race that enters different time periods to make havoc and ultimately, fun for themselves. Anyway, you play a grunt with a sidekick, which apparently attacks the Timesplitters HQ forcing them to escape through time. Of course, you can’t let them get away so you will have to follow them and retrieve the 9 time crystal pieces. These time crystals are nicely split up in 9 different time periods and that of course means 9 different levels for you to play through. For each new level you enter, you will possess the body of a person living in that age. All the weapons found in the different levels reflect the timeline in which that level is currently in. They range from “1853 Wild west” to the “2315 Robot factory” though not necessarily in that order.
Timesplitters 2 isn’t a serious shooter. It edges more to comedy and it has a teen rating, which means no gore. One cool thing about Timesplitters 2’s level design is that the level size will get bigger and filled with more objectives the higher the difficulty level you choose. New sections will be available and not least new weapons (all weapons are available in multiplayer at all times though, except one which you got to unlock in challenge mode). It’s cool to see that Free Radical took their time to do this because it gives player a reason to play on the higher difficulty levels (not to mention the unlocking of cool multiplayer features) when you have finished the game once. Timesplitters 2 delivers a good singleplayer experience but nothing revolutionary. It’s way better than the singleplayer found in the original Timesplitters but still, it can’t compete with Halo when it comes to singleplayer...
The controls found in Timesplitters 2 are very much like those found in Halo except for the aiming system. In Timesplitters 2 you don’t have a crosshair, which can lead to frustration for some, but I didn’t find this to be a problem due to the helpful autoaiming (which can be turned off for the more hardcore players). The crosshair does appear though in another situation and that is if you try to fine adjust your shot or are using the sniper rifle for sniping. This is done, by pressing the right analog stick in, but it’s not something you will want to do too much because the aiming is very sensitive when in this mode. It’s hard to keep the aim cursor still as it will constantly try to center itself to the middle of the screen. The screen doesn’t follow the gun like in Halo but instead the gun(s) wave around in every direction while in this mode, moving the aim cursor over the screen. Another criticism about the controls is that jumping is completely removed. You don’t really need it but it may feel a bit constrained in some occasions. But don’t let me scare you, Timesplitters 2 does have nice controls overall and is actually one of the better despite the minor flaws I mentioned.
Another big thing that separates Timesplitters 2 from other console fps games is the mapmaking function. Yes, Timesplitters 2 has a mapmaking function and it’s a great one too! You basically build up the levels tile by tile (sort of like Lego) and then you assign start points, weapon/item drops, enemy spawn places, enemy AI behavior, lighting, objectives, actions... etc. Surprisingly deep and a great addition. I would be surprised if this feature didn’t get popular among the more hardcore gamers out there.
The greatest part about Timesplitters 2 on the other hand is the multiplayer. I will go even as far and say that it beats Halo in multiplayer, which in reality makes Timesplitters 2 the number one multiplayer console fps game currently out. It does so by implementing the widest choice of options ever seen in a console fps. It’s too much to tell you about really, but almost every possible thing you can think of, you can adjust. It can be played both in 4 player split screen and in lan network. Another thing it has which Halo doesn’t, is bots. This is a great addition if you just want to make the multiplayer action more crowded, or just want to even a team. I don’t think I have seen that many options in a PC fps either, and that should say something. The only criticism I have about the multiplayer is that it doesn’t support online play. It would have been great to be able to play this game on Xbox Live but it seems like we have to live without it. We do always have Xbox connect though... Also, you can even play the singleplayer in cooperative mode like you could in Halo, which is a nice touch.
Timesplitters 2’s graphics are based on the PlayStation 2 hardware (not that it’s a bad thing). If you are expecting a new Halo in terms of graphics then you are going to be disappointed. Textures are plain, objects have low/medium polygon count and the lighting is decent. Nothing special. There are two highlights about the graphics though that make it stand out.
The first one are the animations. All the animations done in this game are performed really smoothly and very lifelike. If you hit an enemy with a bullet, it reacts accordingly. The arm will get pushed backwards if it gets shot (and if you shoot at an undead enemy, the arm may fall off). The same goes for the rest of the body. It’s nice to see that your weapons are hard punching without having to resort to gore.
The second highlight is that the game runs like greased lightning!
It runs constantly at 60fps and it never dips below it. Even with tense 4 player split screen battles with bots on you will be hard pressed to get this game going below 50-60fps. This, combined with the great animation, makes the gameplay stand out among the crowds. It runs fast and that is a pretty rare thing when it comes to console typed FPS games. (Or any FPS games actually. – Editor.)
The sound in Timesplitters 2 is great. The weapons sound like they should and every little sound effect from ricochet to footsteps is nice and crisp. One thing I noticed about the weapons sound effects are that they use a very low frequency. A silenced pistol won’t sound like it’s a cannon, but still you can hear that it kicks a punch not to mention the minigun...
The music in the game is a mixed bag. It’s picked from a nice bag though as none of the tunes are horrid or anything, but vary from the decent to the great. Some music scores edge more to comedy. One example is the music in the UFO level, which is a homage to old sci-fi movies of the 50’s. The music in the first level is in my opinion the greatest. It’s a serious tune reminding you of the legendary “Goldeneye” and it’s a great start for newcomers to the game.
Timesplitters 2 is a great console fps. Nothing about this game goes below good and it has a TON of features. It’s good enough in singleplayer but if that’s the only way you are going to play the game then I could point at other games which are equally good and even a few which are better. In multiplayer however this game is the king. It’s currently the best multiplayer console fps on the market and everyone who has the chance to play this beauty in multiplayer should run out and buy it without question. It has great value and it gives you lot of “bang for your bucks”, so to speak.