[13 April 2005]
I have played a lot of FPS games in my time; first it was the simple ones on my PC—Wolfenstein, Doom, and later Quake—however, I was introduced to more sophisticated examples when the N64 arrived. Most notably GoldenEye 007 and Perfect Dark, the latter in particular holds many fond memories.
The countless hours I spent playing Perfect Dark, whether alone in the single player or with friends in the co-op/multiplayer was, to put it bluntly, unhealthy. It started my love/hate relationship of the genre. However, in the last few years my hate for the genre has been growing and recent efforts have made me want to explode. But that’s not surprising since the market has been filled with utter crap and not a single FPS has come close to toppling Perfect Dark and Half-Life.
The absolute bog-standard offerings of this generation are enough to put people of shooters for life. Medal Of Honor, Killzone, Call Of Duty, Mace Griffin, Red Faction, Brothers In Arms, Die Hard Vendetta, GoldenEye: Rogue Agent, and Halo. Yes, even Halo; God only knows where I found the strength to finish those games.
The problem nowadays is that nothing’s original, and shooters have been done to death. I’ve yet to play Half-Life 2 or Chronicles of Riddick, but the only other FPS I’m looking forward to at the moment is Geist, which is promising to do something new. So you can imagine my reaction when in my local video game store the shop assistant informed me that the latest TimeSplitters had just been released. I wanted nothing more than to change the topic ASAP, preferably to Resident Evil 4, but she insisted that I give it a go while promising I wouldn’t be disappointed. Then I remembered I enjoyed playing TS2 (the multiplayer, not so much the weak main campaign) and thought, “What the hell?”
Still, as I went to power up my GameCube, I was holding my nose expecting the worst. Would the single player missions be as forgettable as those in TS2? Would they mess up on the multiplayer? Are the monkeys still playable? Six hours in and my fears had been put to rest; this is arguably one the funniest and fun-filled examples of the genre in years.
Whereas the whole time traveling theme was nothing more than a gimmick in TS2, in TS:FP that gimmick has turned into a whole game. You play as Vin Diesel look-alike Sgt. Cortez as you travel through many different eras, encountering weapons, enemies, and other time specifics to destroy the TimeSplitters (the main adversaries in the series) before they are created.
Along the way, though, you’ll encounter past, present, and future versions of yourself, which lead to objectives such as solving puzzles, protecting your past/future self, and many other set-pieces. It’s all very Bill & Ted and the concept separates it from other shooters.
The single player campaign has been improved vastly. The problem with TS2 was that the missions were just so barren and lackluster. In TS:FP, however, there’s greater variation; one minute you’re in a vehicle driving to avoid hostile fire, and the next you’re commanding a giant robot, shooting down enemy ships. This improvement adds greatly to the gaming experience.
TimeSplitters: Future Perfect is a step in the right direction; it’s improved on both the strengths of the series (multiplayer) as well as the weaknesses (single player). In this, it feels different and fresh and has rekindled the genre.