Worst crisis yet.
I keep getting confused when I play Time Crisis 4. I literally spend three minutes playing the fast-paced rail shooter that I know and love, but then the next thirty minutes dragging through some clunky, unfamiliar first-person shooter.
[image1]Namco’s latest console outing has caught me in a crisis of faith. Has my beloved arcade shooter forsaken me? Or can I still see some good, hidden beneath a heap of poor choices and unnecessary features? Time Crisis, is that you? Yell if you can hear me!
See, the Time Crisis series started with a simple, elegant premise: you have a gun, you have a time limit, and you duck to hide and reload. Time Crisis was so simple and short that it fit onto a PS1 disc, which I played until the disc wore down to UMD-size.
Crisis Number Four has plenty of good ideas, but they’re all hamstrung by a number of terrible ones. I don’t know how you mess this formula up. Somehow, Namco has taken its simple little rail shooter and thrown it way off-track. Time Crisis 4 throws away the potential of the Playstation 3 and takes the series one too many steps backward.
Ironically, the GunCon 3 peripheral packaged with the game is a perfect analogy for Time Crisis 4: This garish toxic-orange pistol sports a new deformed-looking growth on one side, and it’s still as uncomfortable as ever. My hand cramps after every level, and I still have never gotten used to the whole A1-B2 button layout - just give me some freaking X’s and O’s! The new handle, which puts an extra analog stick under your left thumb, adds an awkward dimension to the first-person shooter Story Mode and may frustrate left-handed players.
At the very least, this new GunCon works on fancy new high-def TVs. Time Crisis 4 includes an LED array which, much like a Wii sensor bar, drapes over the top of your television. The Time Crisis sensors look a little sloppy and are a little unruly to handle. Thankfully, they wrap AROUND your Wii sensor bar if need be, and unpacking and setting up the game is a quick and painless process. You’ll be shooting at the likes of W.O.L.F. in no time.
[image2]A PS3-exclusive single-player mode mixes the original arcade levels with brand-new first-person shooter levels, which fill out the story background and completely switch up the control scheme. You can opt to play the arcade-faithful rail-shooting levels only, or if you need a change of scene, you can shoot targets in twenty thankless bonus levels.
Story Mode really shows the weakness of the new levels compared to the old. Arcade levels clock in at only three to four minutes each, but they’re easy, breezy fun. FPS levels take half an hour, with lots of slow walking across unreasonably open levels into frequent dead ends. The FPS levels have lots of nooks and crannies that feel like they should hide collectibles or other bonuses, but most of your exploration is a big fruitless time-waster.
Of all the available modes and bonus games, the original Arcade campaign preserves the fast-paced fun that is Time Crisis. Over-the-top situations like barricade defenses, high-speed chases, and the silly “Terror Bite” insect swarms may raise a few eyebrows, but they all add fun new variety to the regular gameplay.
As usual, the plot is ridiculous. the characters are ridiculous, and the script is ridiculous.. But this is hardly enough to get upset over. There are two or three characters who are voiced bad to the point of distraction, but Time Crisis was meant to entertain players who were standing in a noisy arcade hall. It’s popcorn fare, and it’s silly to try and take it as anything else.
I was truly disappointed, however, by the lack of a full-screen multiplayer mode. You can share the bonus galleries with a friend, but Arcade Mode still divides your screen into two picture-in-picture windows. A 40” TV turn insto two 20” TVs with huge black bars eating up a third of the screen. Of course, you don’t need to worry about this, because you can’t even get a second GunCon yet without buying the whole game again. Time Crisis 3 showed some good faith by packing two GunCons, but I guess we’re back to lonely solo action.
[image3]For a “next-gen” game, Time Crisis 4 should have had a robust multiplayer mode, especially when most of today’s single-player shooters launch with online co-op and competitive play. The corded GunCon ignores the PS3’s Bluetooth and doesn’t even have a Home button. It might have motion control, but this innovative addition doesn’t even matter until about eight hours into the game. It’s just one more sign of a game that should have been deep and fun but got lost trying to be something it’s not.
Graphically, Time Crisis 4 looks very sharp on the PS3. So sharp in fact, that some of the cheaper graphical tricks like low-poly enemies look rough next to the superbly modeled main characters. But in general, the game looks great - a little flat but great. To boot, Time Crisis 4 sounds as good as it looks, though they could probably use more variety.
Time Crisis 4 suffers from a major identity crisis. By trying to mimic the FPS genre, itis way out of its league. If only Namco had concentrated on console issues instead, like same-screen multiplayer and a more appropriate GunCon, Time Crisis 4 could have been a fun time to share and show off. Instead, it’s just a bland shooter with a flimsy toy gun and a big spoonful of “we-know-better” arrogance.