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TimeSplitters 2 was groundbreaking. It was a very quirky first-person shooter created by a team of ex-Rare developers, AKA the chaps who worked on classic Nintendo 64 games like Goldeneye 64 and Perfect Dark. TS2 had a lot of ambition and heaps of content, from challenges to unlockable characters. While some retro fans claim the second game was the best of the bunch, it was TimeSplitters: Future Perfect, the final entry in the series, that truly raised the bar. To put it simply, this game is a timeless classic.
After leaping through various time zones in hopes of collecting artifacts known as the ‘Time Crystals’, Sgt. Cortez zips back to Marine HQ with a new objective: use the Time Crystals to go back in time, find out where they came from, and prevent the ongoing war between humanity and the evil TimeSplitters from ever existing by destroying them. As straight-faced as it sounds, the cutscenes and writing in general are just so damn hilarious. Its graphics still
look good to this day, too.
Compared to the previous entries, TimeSplitters: Future Perfect has a hefty story mode. Most of the time, you’ll be paired up with a plucky, eccentric partner to help you get through each level. In between blitzing through hordes of guards, robots and the undead, you’ll be giving your buds cover fire, doing a bit of sneaking around (which is optional) or solving some puzzles. Companions like the super-chill secret agent Harry Tipper, or the abrasive goth teen Jo-Beth Casey, are so lovable, and spout out some memorable dialogue. They soak up a lot of damage, too, so you don’t have to worry about babysitting them 24/7. Levels include chasing down a Cold War supervillain on a train, fighting through a Scottish island being bombed by the British Navy, and aiding the human resistance during the Machine Wars of the 2200s. Linear as they may be, they’re jolly good fun. They’re nowhere near as infuriating as TS2’s, since there are many more health packs and checkpoints on offer.
While entry no. 3 isn’t as fast-paced as its predecessor, it’s still a hectic experience, thanks to its Arcade Mode and the tonnes of replayability it offers. A few of the less popular modes from the previous game are nowhere to be seen, but there’s a hefty selection of deathmatch variants and team games on offer, albeit with minor improvements. And yes, Virus mode (think of a tame of tag build-up, only with FIRE) is still here. You can play four-player splitscreen with friends, but if you’ve got no mates, you can play against bots; tweaking their rank will make them tougher, more agile and accurate. Game rules and the music can be customized, as well. Generally speaking, you’re spoilt for choice yet again. Admittedly, lots of action on-screen may drop the framerate a bit.
While all of the stages are unlocked from the get-go, additional characters (and even bonus cheats) can be acquired by playing through the Arcade League and Challenges. The former is made up of pre-made Arcade matches. Getting high scores is notably easier compared the prior game. Don’t let it stop you, though, as the real fun comes from trying to beat your score in order to achieve platinum trophies for each. Challenge mode mixes things up even
further, and features a wider variety of mini-games to try out, from remote-controlled cat-racing to shooting cardboard cutouts for points. Again, a lot of these are very fun, with a few exceptions. Things like the last stand modes, where you’re having to fend off waves of enemies, seem to drag on and on in comparison.
There are oodles of weapons to try out, from sniper rifles and mines to a life-leeching Ghost Gun and flare pistols. Each map now allows you to hold up to six weapons, including grenades that you can spam ridiculously quick. There are 150 playable characters to choose from, including zombies, robots, cowboys, and even monkeys. Sure, there may be the occasional minor variation of a pre-existing character, but at least it’s not nearly as lazy as TS2 and its cast of palette-swapped military men and women (25 of them!).
Mapmaker is back, and better than ever. You can create your own levels by piecing together tiles and popping some items inside of them. Creating custom-made story missions is a blast, as now you can pull off even more neat tricks and traps with its advanced Story AI scripting. It’s easy to get ahold of the basics, but creating scripted events can feel like a daunting chore at times. Regardless, it’s a perfect addition for any creative types out there, and is and still offers just as much customization. Oddly, the PS2 version has an odd glitch that only allows you to spar with up to six bots, rather than ten, in your custom levels. Still, it’s not enough to damper the whole experience.
Series composer Graeme Norgate returns with even more thumping beats, spooky ambience and unforgettable tunes. Goteki and Christian Marcussen have also made sizeable musical contributions to the game. You really can’t go wrong with the adventurous, heroic feel of ‘Scotland The Brave’ (it has bagpipes – big win), or the wacky club banger ‘Like a Monkey’. There’s a really catchy leitmotif that you’ll hear in most of the story mode missions, which really makes level themes like ‘Khallos Express’ worth listening to again and again.
TimeSplitters: Future Perfect is easily the best in the series, and is an essential title from the sixth generation era. While TS2 popularized the series, it was this gem that topped it on almost-every way. The story mode is a lot more fleshed out and weighty, while the amount of characters, weapons and game modes on offer is still staggering. There are plenty of settings to fiddle with in Arcade Custom, while the mapmaker mode offers creative players to let their creative juices flow. While the occasional dodgy bug and aggravating level will inevitably crop up at times, they fail to taint things on the whole. This first-person shooter right here is some of the most fun you’ll have on your PS2, and is a must-have game. Time to split, everybody!