88 miles per hour and nowhere to go.
I feel sorry for Christopher Lloyd, star of the Back to the Future series. People go to Hollywood with all sorts of dreams and ambitions. Some achieve major stardom and fame. Others find happiness through various acting venues. The rest either become roadkill on the streets of success or worse...they become typecast.
People see Lloyd as Doc Brown, the raving scientist. Sure, he was in Taxi, and he even had some memorable bits in movies like One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, but most people know him as Marty McFly's crazy buddy. Like so many before him, Doc Brown" err, I mean Christopher Lloyd, has been shoved into the backwater of Hollywood, appearing in collect call commercials and Hollywood Squares. If only Lloyd had an actual time machine, he could go back and stop himself from ever accepting the Doc Brown role.
Great Scott! That one change in the space time continuum would change everything! Lloyd would become a leading man, starring in action flicks. Peace would prevail. The world would be happy. And maybe someone would fix the dismal single-player part of TimeSplitters before letting it out the door.
The TimeSplitters are a diabolical force that easily surpasses the piddling time traveling exploits of Christopher Lloyd. These TimeSplitters bounce through time from era to era, mucking around in our history. It isn't so much a plot as a concept. People from within these eras must fight the TimeSplitters and put an end to their evil deeds.
The single-player game is heavily mired in Capture the Flag tactics. Each mission has an item for you to retrieve and an exit location. Every level holds a different item. So throughout the game, you first run towards the item, then run towards the exit dealing with enemies in specific locations and following specific patterns.
Levels are very linear. You pretty much just run from the beginning directly to the item, with side tangents to gain extra power-ups. This simple formula is expanded upon later in the game, but stages still have a very direct layout. Suffice to say, this simple setup isn't particularly inspiring.
The default control uses the two analog sticks. It takes a while to get used to it, and even then, I never enjoyed it as much as other console FPS games like Goldeneye or Medal of Honor. Control just feels loose, and would have been a lot better with a "centering" button.
Without a decent plot or radically intuitive gameplay, TimeSplitters seems more bent on throwing action your way. No cut scenes. No briefings. Everything is simply left to the bare bone essentials, which makes for a somewhat dry experience. While not a necessary ingredient, presentation items like cut-scenes and briefings create a better sense of an environment. Without them, the level designs themselves are left to pick up the slack.
Unfortunately, these very surroundings are just plain uninteresting. Walls are sparse and repetitive. With so many different time periods to romp through, I hoped to see a heightened level of art and design. Maybe they should have chosen just three time periods and developed each one completely. Instead, every level has to be different, and every level ends up being unimpressive.
However, TimeSplitters runs at a high resolution and a spiffy framerate. This is hands down the fastest first-person shooter for any console system . But that doesn't mean a thing when the worlds look so...boring. Plus, the anti-aliasing problems show up once again in the form of shimmering details here and there. Honestly, this problem compounded with the off-kilter lens seriously made me feel nauseous at times.
Musically, it sounds like they found some no-name band from the 80s, handed them a synthesizer, and told them to go nuts. And go nuts they did. The music isn't very good, but at least its usually drowned out by all the blasting and screaming from the game. Let's hear it for sound effects!
TimeSplitters isn't a complete loss, though. The multiplayer mode makes this game worth the effort. You can toss yourself into the fray against a mess of computer-controlled bots and up to 3 other human players. The game still moves fast, and the lens "seasickness" isn't so sickening on a quarter screen. But despite the better play in a multi-player deathmatch, the game never lifts itself above any of its forefathers. Even without the nostalgia factor, I'm still much happier playing Goldeneye.
As an extra, the game includes a basic map editor to create your own limited stages. Select different rooms and piece them together. Create different floors of a structure. You can also make slight changes to each room, like the tint. It's not nearly as powerful as a PC level editor, but considering the fact that this is a console, it's pretty cool.
TimeSplitters could use a trip in the ol' Delorean just to realize what the future of console first-person shooters should be. On this little journey, it could find out that the single player adventures are becoming deeper and more involved. The future of gaming will have enthralling and captivating environments. Everything will be finessed and optimized, resulting in a better all-around experience. Heed the visions of the future, Eidos, because TimeSplitters is just more of the same old formula in a candy shell. Take away the coatings and purportedly new features, and the game finds its way back to its roots - in the past.