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Power Rangers: Time Force
Score: 72%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: THQ
Developer: Climax Group
Media: Cart/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Action

Graphics & Sound:
Over the course of the show, the Power Rangers have gone through more incarnations that Michael Jackson has noses. First they mightily morphed, then they protected the Lost Galaxy, and now they protect time. While it is an interesting premise - the execution fails to feel like a completed game.

Graphically, Power Rangers: Time Force is nothing we haven't seen before and definitely doesn't push the system's limits. Each Ranger is modeled nicely, but come off looking flat. The animations however, are very choppy and some feel like placeholder moves - almost as if the developers planned something different but never used it. The levels do a great job of showing off the different time periods and reminded me a lot of Gauntlet in both style and look.

Voices are done by the show's actors and delivered with all the emotional you would expect to hear in a typical show (take that as you will). I had a real problem with the voice of the robot owl that helps you through the game - it was just a little too high pitched and whiney for my tastes. Background music is good, and like the levels, helped to make each time period feel different.

The year is 3000 AD and the mutant Ransik, along with some of his cronies, has traveled back in time to change the time stream. This, of course, would be a bad thing, so the Power Rangers are sent to retrieve Ransik and save history. After your time craft is 'putted' (after the intro movie, you will know what I mean) through the time portal you have to fight your way to the 'Odd Jobs Shop'. This serves as a good training level to get you accustomed to the ins-and-outs of the game. Once you reach the shop, you are presented with a hub to the other time periods. When you first enter each of the levels, you are given your mission goal and then it becomes a race against time (yes, you are timed) to complete the level. As you progress through each level, you can pick up various power ups such as power/speed boosters and the all important time bonuses. For those wanting a real treasure hunt, you can also look for the artifact hidden in each level, which unlocks the Quantum Ranger. Keeping with Power Rangers tradition, each level ends with a Megazord battle against the giant mutant boss of the level.

As I said before, this is all an interesting premise, but everything feels thrown together and rushed. In fact, this is the same formulaic Power Rangers game as last year, only with new villains and Rangers. In each level you fight the same one or two easy enemies and an even easier boss. This makes for very tedious gameplay and the game quickly loses any sense of fun. Searching for the artifacts does add some challenge, but the time limit kills the fun of searching.

In addition to the one-player game, Time Force also offers a two-player battle mode. In this mode you choose your character and battle it out in one of the seven Megazord arenas. This is a welcome addition to the game, but I would have preferred the option to play the main game with two people.

Mastery of Time Force hinges on your mastery of one move - the jump kick. As strange as it sounds, the entire game can be beaten (easily I might add) by only using the jump kick. Thankfully, some of the mission goals are tough and finding the artifacts will add a little more challenge to the shallow combat system.

Game Mechanics:
Control feels too loose and detracts quite a bit from the game. In particular, I had problems with the movement of each Ranger since they feel like they are running on ice and very unresponsive. Again, I had major issues with the tedious nature of the game. You fight the same one (and in some levels two) enemy, then the boss and then the Megazord battle - all of which offer little to no challenge. Add to this some tough 'search-and-find' mission goals with a short time limit (the time boosters don't help that much), and things just aren't fun after awhile. Speaking of the time limit, why is it there in the first place? I can understand having one when the mission calls for it, such as a bomb going off or ship leaving, but having one just to make the game harder has and will never sit well with me.

Overall, the game feels like it missed a few steps in development, possibly to get it out before the next incarnation of the Power Rangers. While it could have been worse, Time Force can still be enjoyable, especially for fans of the show, but non-fans may want to look elsewhere on the game shelf.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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