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Score: 89%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Eidos Interactive
Developer: Free Radical
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 2 (2 - 4 Multitap)
Genre: First Person Shooter/ Action

Graphics & Sound:
TimeSplitters runs at a delicious 60 frames per second, giving you smooth, smooth graphics. Unfortunately, the graphics that you'll see aren't terribly impressive. They're certainly passable, and even pretty sometimes -- I really liked the landscape on Planet-X, for example -- but they won't blow you away. The textures are repetitious, if pretty, and most of the levels don't have that graphical oomph that takes a game from good to fantastic. The character models are all right, even if everyone looks like they've been Slim-Fasting it for the past ten years. Spindly and tall is the norm in TimeSplitters.

Along with the speedy framerates comes speedy music. It's generally pumping, fitting, and damned enjoyable. It's nothing you'll remember after playing the game, but it works perfectly for what it's for -- adding a little background flavor to the missions. The music's campy, and it knows it, and that makes it all the better. The sound effects are pretty solid too, with lots of gunshot sounds and the occasional ricochet or two. And once you get the Sci-Fi Sniper Rifle, you'll be blowing the heads off of people with abandon, listening to the lovely 'fzzzht' of the gun. Aww, yeah.

TimeSplitters is a FPS through-and-through, with barely enough plot to really call the single-player campaign a 'game.' Of course, the multiplayer mode is where it's really at, but you've got to beat the levels in single-player mode to open up all the goodies to use to virtually annihilate your friends. This sort of bait-and-switch tactic works well for TimeSplitters, keeping you interested in the single-player mode long enough to get all the goodies.

In the Story mode, the object is to find some item in the level, then get to some 'extraction point.' Sometimes said point is where you start the level, but other times you have to find it as well. Once you find the key item, the TimeSplitters start to phase in on the level, intent on killing you before you make it to the end of the level. This means that even if you clean out a level completely, there'll be plenty more baddies coming after you to finish you off. It's a great idea, and it keeps the game from being a 'creep and kill' since once they start popping in, there's usually too many to manage. That's not to say that the game's hard to control. The default settings are fantastic, and after a few minutes of fiddling with the controls, you'll have them down pat.

Doing everything in Story mode opens up scads of new characters to play, levels to run around on, and bots to fight against. And where do you use all of this? The Arcade mode, of course, and preferably with your friends. Up to four people can play on the screen, with an acceptably small loss of framerate. It doesn't hurt that the multiplayer mode is a blast. It's also insanely configurable, from the level you play to the weapons you use and the AIs you fight. There's enough meat here to last you and a group of friends for years, which is understandable, as the developers are ex-Rare employees. Remember that little game Goldeneye? Yeah.

Now, oftentimes you'll find yourself thinking that the level design in TimeSplitters isn't that hot. And it's true -- not all of the levels make you go 'wow,' and a few of them are just... blah. But there's a remedy to that: build your own level. TimeSplitters comes with a level builder, allowing you to put together the arena of your dreams. You can choose the lighting (and even the phase of the lighting, if it strobes), the texturing, and how the rooms lay out. It can be a sprawling single-level design, or a tightly-packed multi-story complex. You decide. The level editor is simple to use and easy to understand, giving you the freedom to place anything you want, from player starts to ammo to weapons.

Even if the game's a little 'light,' especially in the Story mode -- even though you can do it with a friend, it doesn't have quite the same oomph that the multiplayer does -- it's plenty fun.

Well, for a pleasant change, Easy mode is actually, well, difficult. It's not Alien: Resurrection impossible, but chances are it'll take you a bit to figure out just how to beat quite a few of the levels. Some are pushovers, but others require exploration of all sorts of side-passages to find the shortest way through. Normal and Hard modes are hard and damned difficult, respectively, and it's a very good idea to do the Easy mode first. Not to mention, the Easy difficulty level unlocks just as much stuff as the other two.

Game Mechanics:
The controls in TimeSplitters are spot-on, allowing you to have all the precision you need. The game auto-aims a little for you too, making up for some of the loss that you inevitably get when you can't play with a keyboard and mouse. The mechanics of the game itself are tight, if a little harsh -- oftentimes, you'll find a single blow from an enemy knocking out more than half of your health. And although the weapons are a little repetitive at times, they're good enough designs to keep you going.

Unfortunately, like SSX, TimeSpliiters has some pretty aggravatingly long load times. It's just long enough to sort of break the mood when you're multiplaying, but it's not absolutely atrocious. A definite annoyance, though.

TimeSplitters isn't the deepest FPS you'll play, but it never made itself out to be more than a great multiplayer game. And, for what it does, it does it very well. It may not be the prettiest game you'll ever play, and it certainly doesn't have the best single-player mode, but when you want to get down and blow up your friends on a console, you really can't beat TimeSplitters. If you're at all a fan of the FPS genre, and have friends who don't mind getting shot at (in the game, folks, in the game), you can't go wrong with it.

-Sunfall to-Ennien, GameVortex Communications
AKA Phil Bordelon

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