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TimeSplitters 2
Score: 98%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Eidos Interactive
Developer: Free Radical
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: First Person Shooter

Graphics & Sound:
Although it does have a few lackluster moments, the graphics are fantastic. Not to say the original looked shabby, but this is much improved game over the original. Part of what made TimeSplitters appealing to me, aside from the frantic, gun-slinging action, was the game's unique style and character. Those looking for realistic graphics may be a little disappointed to find that TimeSplitters 2 takes a more cartoon looking approach which, to me, looks like some kind of weird hybrid between Escape from Monkey Island and a Scott Campbell (Danger Girl) comic. Of course, the real star of the game is the effects. Smoke billows from the grenade launcher, lighting effects shining off your gun, rain drops dripping down the screen, and there's a really sweet glass breaking effect that shatters where you shoot.

The animation is top-notch and the attention to detail is fantastic. For example, while I was waiting to pick off a guard with my sniper rifle, he actually stumbled while on patrol and started jumping up and down while holding the injured foot. After I missed him (I am a pretty bad shot with a moving target), he looked at the bullet hole (where his head should have been before he moved) and wouldn't you know he was out to find me after that.

Music is a big part of the game and does a phenomenal job of setting the mood for each mission, although it is spotty at times. For every excellent Notre Dame or Western theme, there's a generic Neo Tokyo or Planet X theme. The vocal and gunshot effects are just as good, if not better. The comedic timing of the game's characters is incredible and could give No One Lives Forever a run for its money.

One of the things Free Radical wanted to do with TS2 was to include a more fleshed out Story mode. While it is a big improvement over the original's 'find this item-get it back to the green circle', it still feels a tad disjointed and out of place.

Like most good time traveling epics, the game opens up in the future as a team of space marines are storming a space station held by the TimeSplitters. Just as the two marines enter the base, the last group of TimeSplitters are making their escape with the Time Crystals. From here, the game takes a very Quantum Leap type spin where the marines jump into the bodies of different people to not only fix the problems of their time period, but also retrieve the time crystals. Like in the original, each level plays out as its own episode. I'm still mixed as to whether I liked this approach or not. On one hand, it gives you a great stopping point during the game. Instead of saving mid-story and always wondering what is going to happen next, you can stop at the end of each episode. The obvious downside to this is that there is very little holding each of the stories together, resulting in a scattered story that makes very little sense.

Just as with the original, the Story mode is more of a sideshow for the real meat of the game - the Multiplayer mode. This is where the game excels, but what do you expect from the guys who brought us Goldeneye? In addition to the ability to blast up to 4 of your friends in all-out fragfests, you can also include up to 10 bots in your Multiplayer melees. Multiplayer modes range from the standard Capture the Flag and Deathmatch modes to Leech, where you gain health for inflicting damage on others. You can even choose between Chilled, Normal, and Frantic speeds for your matches. There's even the option to set your own weapons, over 150 different characters to play as (each with their own attributes and weaknesses), dozens of maps and game options, and gun toting, trigger-happy monkeys. Yeah, you hear me right, monkeys.

Creative gamers can even build their own multiplayer maps with the aide of the easy to use Map Creator tool.

As if the Story and Multiplayer modes weren't enough to keep you busy, TS2 also features tons of extras for you to unlock in the Arcade mode, a challenge mode where you gain rewards based on how well you perform certain tasks such as breaking windows or shooting the heads off of zombies. Rewards include paintball guns, big head modes, new characters, and new challenge modes.

Much like its predecessor, TimeSplitters 2 is very challenging. It's not enough to have you throwing your controller on the ground or threatening to shoot the developers with your newly acquired rocket launcher - but don't expect to waltz right through any of the game's modes. Most of what makes TS2 hard is that it's not a simple 'blast your way through everything' type game, but instead requires you to think about what you're doing. Okay, so I'm lying to you - 90 percent of the game's problems can be solved by simply blasting your way through things, but at times even shooting a target can be an exercise in logic - especially during the challenges in Arcade mode.

Game Mechanics:
Most importantly, the controls are fully customizable, so there should be no problem with finding a scheme that you like. If you desire to shoot with the Start button, by all means - be my guest. The only excuse for the controls being bad is because you made them hard. Even when using the default setup, the controls are flawless and offer a very responsive game. FPSs have never felt better on the PS2.

Without question, this is the best FPS available on the PS2 and something everyone should have in their collection. Between the Story, Multiplayer, Arcade modes and all of the unlockables, this game will keep gamers busy for at least a year or ten. There's enough in this game to like that even non-FPS fans will be able to find something they like.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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