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Due July 2002 for PS2, Fall 2002 for Xbox and Gamecube.

Screens in review are from PS2 version. Xbox and Gamecube screens are below.

ts2_0104-01.jpg (4789 bytes)Released over a year ago, TimeSplitters remains one of the best multiplayer FPS games on the PS2. Unfortunately, it did not deliver much in the way of a single player campaign. The concept worked, the atmosphere was perfect, but it is hard to get excited about a story mode with absolutely no story and mission objectives that can be affectionately summed up as a game of fetch. Lucky for us, Free Radical and Eidos are going the extra mile with the sequel, available this summer on the PS2.

ts2_0108-01.jpg (5534 bytes)TimeSplitters 2 will feature a complete story mode full of time travel, intrigue, and, of course, action. This time out there will be multiple difficulty settings for each level. Each increased level of difficulty will contain additional mission objectives and tougher enemies, a la Goldeneye, a game that many of the people at Free Radical helped to create. Also included will be a cooperative story mode, a multiplayer mode that promises to be even more customizable than the first, and an expanded map maker.

ts2_0105-01.jpg (6159 bytes)The demo level I was able to play (available in the February edition of the Official Playstation Magazine) was for the PS2 version only. From the beginning it is clear that the campy atmosphere is back and stronger than ever. There are gun-toting monkeys in this game, after all. The opening cinematic features a couple of clumsy soldiers who encounter a zombie in a cave. It plays like a scene out of Abbot And Costello Meet Frankenstein—lots of goofy expressions and scream takes. After that it’s an overview of the level (a snowy military camp nestled beneath a tall dam), then a straight shot into the perspective of your character.

ts2_0109-01.jpg (6688 bytes)You begin playing on the outskirts of the camp carrying only a pistol and a sniper rifle. After taking out the guards with the sniper rifle, you move into the camp, careful not to be detected by the security cameras, or killed by the snipers aiming at you from the dam high above. Once you have taken out the cameras and enemies and looted the camp, you move into the dam where your objectives await. You must restore power to the elevator and disable the satellite. Along the way you will find a variety of weapons—a machine gun, a grenade launcher, and a flame-thrower for starters. The flame-thrower does a wonderful job of setting things ablaze, enemies especially. The demo ends when you meet up with the soldiers and zombie from the opening scene.

ts2_0103-01.jpg (6694 bytes)The graphics and sound are both especially well done, even as the title remains unfinished. The landscapes are vivid and expansive, there is virtually no draw-in or fog, and I never detected any slow down. The character models are very cartoony, but it is a style that fits the game. The characters’ faces are very articulate and are easily as good as those of 007: Agent Under Fire. There are plenty of deformable objects in the game, from windows that shatter according to where they are hit, to shelves full of boxes, plates, and watermelons. Okay, the watermelons are obvious target placement, only there to look cool when they explode, but I enjoyed blowing them apart with my projectile version of the Sledge-O-Matic nonetheless. Another strange anomaly are the potted plants that explode after taking damage. I take this as a very funny in-joke, a commentary on the current state of action fair like Red Faction where the game isn’t over until everything is blowed up real good. TimeSplitters 2 is so action-packed even the plants explode!

ts2_0106-01.jpg (6794 bytes)Overall, the level presented in the demo has a very retro-Goldeneye feel. It is almost as if your time traveling compatriots have dropped you into a spiffed up version of the popular N64 title. For me this was a welcome homage as well as a nod to gamers, telling us that the creators know what the first title was missing, and they are happy to give us what we really want. TimeSplitters 2 is looking to be one of this year’s must-play titles. I, for one, am anticipating many an hour of sci-fi camp, Elvis impersonators, killer monkeys, self-made Machiavellian deathtrap levels, and multiplayer goodness.

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Xbox Screens

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Gamecube Screens

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Jeremy Kauffman (03/20/2002)