If you have played one Time Crisis game, you have pretty much played them all. Duck behind cover. Shoot. Duck behind cover. Shoot. It is all the same. Time Crisis: Crisis Zone isn't any different, but it adds one key element that gives the game a whole new feel. You can now shoot up the environment along with all of the bad guys. You are still doing a lot of ducking and shooting, but now you can destroy stores and office buildings and it is a whole lot of fun.
In Crisis Zone, a group of terrorists have taken over a shopping center, hotel, park, and an office building. It is up to you as head of an anti-terrorist team to take them out. The story is more complicated than that, but this is a shooting game not an RPG, so who cares about the story?
Just like every other light-gun game, Crisis Zone isn't worth getting if you don't have a GunCon2. You can pick the game up with a gun for anywhere between $50-60 and it is well worth it. Nothing beats the feeling of holding a light gun in your hand and blasting countless waves of enemies. The gun is very well put together, so if you take care of it, it will bring you shooting bliss for years to come. There are a handful of GunCon2 compatible games on PS2 already and many of them are pretty cheap, so consider your initial purchase of a Crisis Zone set a small investment in long term fun.
The Time Crisis games are fairly simple and straightforward and Crisis Zone is no exception. You play the game in a first-person perspective but you can't move. The game automatically moves you from room to room. Each room is filled with enemies and it is your job to shoot them. By pressing a button on the GunCon2, you pull up a riot shield to hide behind which can literally absorb everything your enemy throws at you. From bullets to knives to rockets and even shots from a tank. This is a little different from past Time Crisis games where you used objects in the environment for cover, but the riot shield works exactly the same way. Basically, enemies pop up around the room and you shoot them. Unlike previous Time Crisis games where your initial weapon is a handgun, Crisis Zone gives you a submachine gun with unlimited ammo. Enemies will launch rockets and throw blades at you and you can only take a limited number of hits, but if you are careful and use your shield Crisis Zone isn't too difficult.
What makes the game even more fun is that the environments you are going through are now much more destructible than in previous games. In Time Crisis 3 you could shoot explosive barrels and things like that to alter the environment, but in Crisis Zone pretty much everything you see can be destroyed. Because you are playing through a shopping center and some offices, there are lots of computers and equipment and racks of magazines and CDs and a ton of other things to shoot. The physics system is actually pretty good, too, so objects blow apart and fall very realistically. Statues and pillars crumble as well, which means that there has to be a rip-off of the lobby scene from The Matrix. It's all good, though. Not everything can be blown apart, which creates some strange instances where an enemy will hide behind a seemingly indestructible board or something, but overall there is a lot of different stuff to shoot in Crisis Zone and all of it is very satisfying and fun. All of this plays a bigger role than being simply destruction for destruction's sake. Each item you shoot adds a link to a combo, so you can rack up huge amounts of points by shooting up the environment in addition to blasting all of the enemies.
The story mode only takes a few hours to complete, which is a shame. You won't beat it on your first few times through, but you earn more continues the more you play and after an afternoon of work you will have memorized the levels and picked up enough extra continues to get through to the end. To make up for this, there is a feature called Crisis Mode. The missions in crisis mode give you specific challenges such as scoring a certain number of points or not shooting anything in the environment. These challenges are pretty difficult, but are still a lot of fun and add a lot of replay value to the game.
Graphically, Time Crisis: Crisis Zone is a nice looking game. This is a port of a five-year old arcade game so it isn't super impressive, but it still looks good overall. The environments are filled with detail and the destructible objects look great. The enemies have limited animation, which looks bad, but they are only usually onscreen for a couple of seconds before you blast them so it is acceptable. It isn't cutting edge by any means, but Crisis Zone looks good.
Likewise, the sound gets the job done, but isn't really anything to write home about. The sound effects and announcer are exactly like we have heard in past Time Crisis games and the music is also very similar. It sounds good, but you have likely heard it before. The voice acting in the game is bad, but it lends the game a cartoony, over-the-top feel that works.
Time Crisis: Crisis Zone is worth a look for fans of light-gun games. It isn't quite as big or refined as Time Crisis 3 (this is an older game, after all) but the ability to shoot pretty much anything and everything in the environments makes the game very fun and satisfying. Give it a rental at least, but definitely play it.