It’s difficult to quantify just what “fun” is. Heck, in some languages, the word doesn’t even exist. Don’t even try to describe it, because you end up using related words that really can’t be described themselves without using “fun.” Confusing? Yes. However, if aliens from the planet Ballzack XI came down and asked, “what is this ‘fun’ of which your people constantly speak”, all you’d have to do is hand them a copy of TimeSplitters: Future Perfect for Xbox or PS2, and they’d head home much wiser in the ways of fun, that is, if they could peel themselves off the game long enough to get back to their ships. While EA’s done a lot to torque off gamers in the past several months, publishing this game should put them in the graces of many gamers out there. It’s simply that good.
TimeSplitters: Future Perfect (or T:FP from here on out) at its core is a pretty basic first person shooter. You race around maps hunting down your enemies while collecting bigger and better guns, power ups, and health boosts. Weapons range from inane (pistols and vintage rifles) to the insane (plasma auto-rifles and six-pack rocket launchers). Power ups include stealth (invisibility), speed and weapon boosters. The levels range from claustrophobic vertigo-inducing indoor maps to vast arctic expanses. But in the end, T:FP is still your basic shooter. So what the heck makes it so fun? It’s two things actually; first being that the developers continued the over-the-top comedic tone of the first two TimeSplitters games, and the second being that the game is so chocked with unlockables and special challenges, you’ll be playing it for months. Actually, there’s a third feature – mapmaking, which allows you, the gamer, to become the creator of content for the game; developing multiplayer maps and single player missions that you can share with other online gamers (via Xbox Live) to give you months of gameplay options. If you get bored with the games’ maps, you can download from a library of hundreds that others have posted online, tweak them to your liking, and play away. Or just build your own.
T:FP never takes itself too seriously, which makes it one of those games that’ll have you laughing your butt off at the juvenile humor. If you enjoy silly and almost slapstick humor, the dialog in this game will never let you down. It’s no Chris Rock or Dave Chappelle caliber laugh, but it’s good funny stuff for the twisted kid in all of us. If you’re not laughing while you play this game, maybe you’re just a bit too grown up to be gaming at this point. It’s tough not to laugh at a challenge level that has you hunting mutant zombie monkeys with a shotgun, or when hearing pseudo-sexual comments (and there are plenty of ‘em) like, “I’m lubed and ready” spoken by a female robot.
One of the complaints about the previous TimeSplitters’ titles, the controls, has been fixed in Future Perfect. Gone is the skittish aiming mode, while the aiming mode is still there, it’s much smoother and tighter. One thing we’ve lost with Future Perfect, however, is the secondary fire options for most of the weapons. While in the previous TimeSplitters, you could pull the left trigger to fire off a secondary attack (like six shots from a missile launcher instead of just one), now, you have to use the D-pad to switch to secondary mode, and very few weapons even have one. Basically, the game has become a lot more like Halo and a lot less like eneye, which the earlier ‘Splitters titles were based upon. It’s not bad mind you, but it may let down the ‘Splitters hardcore out there. They did, however, add a grenade to the game, which is thrown by hitting the left trigger. And the time shock grenade is very cool, freezing time so you can get some cheap shots in on the bad guys.
As with the previous games in the series, level design is top notch. The maps are well thought out and a lot of fun to roam around in. Graphically, they are oh-so-pretty, as are the characters who inhabit them. Some maps are a little small, but there are so many maps in this game, you won’t find yourself feeling cramped for long.
The TimeSplitters series has long prided itself on being all about unlockables, and developer Crystal Dynamics didn’t let us down this time. There are 150 unlockable characters, all of which, when unlocked, can be used in multiplayer matches. There are also over 100 challenge levels, offering dozens of hours of gameplay. So while the single player may be short (typically, you can finish it in under 10 hours), the replay offered up by the challenges, arcade mode and online will keep you playing for about 10 times that number.
Did I mention the multiplayer? Well, EA may have botched Xbox Live play in Burnout 3, but they got it right with TimeSplitters: Future Perfect. The game plays basically lag-free online, even in 16-player matches. While the online game types are pretty standard stuff, the really cool option is the ability to make your own maps and share them with others online. And the developers didn’t just chuck all the maps into a pile for you to dig through and hope you find a gem, oh no, that’d be too cruel. Instead, maps are sorted in categories such as “Most Recent”, “Top Rated”, “Most Downloaded” and “Friends’ Maps.” With all these categories, it’s easy to quickly find a map you’ll enjoy, or several of them. The rating system for maps is very cool, and it seems to be working well, as the top-rated maps we tried out were awesome works of art. Now, it’s cool to download and play these maps online, but you can also edit the maps, creating single-player missions or expanding them for online play. The mapmaker is much improved over TimeSplitters 2’s mapmaker, as it’s significantly easier to use, but offers more tiles, textures and general options than before. For those looking to create and share single-player missions, you can even create game logic, such as “when someone enters the room, turn out all the lights”, which certainly spices things up.
To pigeonhole TimeSplitters: Future Perfect as nothing more than a Halo knockoff with some juvenile humor is to the do game, and yourself, a disservice. T:FP is a lot more than that, with multiplayer options aplenty, user-generated downloadable content (maps) and a very solid online game. The single-player campaign may be short, but the Arcade and Challenge modes will keep you playing for hours as you try to unlock more of the hilariously cool characters from the game. This is a game well worth the price of admission.
- Gameplay: 7.5
- Basic FPS shooter stuff
- Graphics: 8
- Cartoony, yet well detailed visuals
- Sound: 8.5
- Great dialog, good sounds and plenty of cool music
- Replay: 10
- From creating your own maps, to the arcade and challenge modes, there are a million and one reaons to enjoy this game
- Overall: 9.1
- The gameplay may be simplistic, but the multiplayer, challenge modes and mapmaking more than make up for it. Definitely worth buying.
— Craig Falstaff