Well, this week’s Retro Showcase stream has come and gone, so now it’s time to have a look at TimeSplitters. When it was first released as a launch game for the PlayStation 2, I really enjoyed my time playing it. In fact, TimeSplitters was the first FPS game I even completed!
I had played a number of games from the genre on the PS1 and PC before then, but they never clicked with me the way that TimeSplitters did. So, I was really interested to see how I would feel about it after all this time. Let’s find out.
When the game started up and we get to the main menu, I was really surprised. You see, I remember the music being very energetic. In my head, I had this sort of mental recording of really uplifting and upbeat music that would get your excited and build you up for the game you were about to play.
Yet, it wasn’t what I remembered it to be, at all. Don’t get me wrong, though; it is still very good music. It’s just that it was quite toned down from the memory I had in my head. That confused me a little bit but really goes to show the effect that nostalgia can have on you, causing you to remember things better than they actually are.
That said, even though it’s totally forgettable music, it wasn’t invasive in its sound design. You’re not going to sit there and just start humming one of the pieces from the game, but the music doesn’t take away from the gameplay so there’s not too bad the game of that time.
Timesplitters, itself, is split into two modes; story mode and arcade mode. The fact that there are only two modes to choose from makes it really quick and easy to get into the game. So that is a big positive since it means you’re not wasting precious time trying to figure out how to get into the game.
In story mode, you go through a number of different levels – it’s pretty standard, really. And that’s the same for arcade mode too. There isn’t anything that will stand out as significantly different from other FPS games. You get gameplay modes such as Deathmatch and Capture the Flag, but not much else. And that pretty much leads us onto Gameplay.
As I said earlier, I remember absolutely loving this game when it first came out. At the time, Timesplitters felt incredibly quick really fast-paced and tight for gameplay.
I recall a feeling of being constantly under fire and always on the edge of my seat. What I don’t remember, however, is just how long the loading screens are!
That really is the first thing I need to raise in terms of gameplay; the loading screens go on for a very long time. I was actually getting bored whilst we were streaming it, which isn’t great. But then, it makes sense when you are just sitting there, waiting for it to load.
That said, when we eventually did get into the game, it felt far better. The game really is incredibly fast. You will be flying through every single level!
Part of that, though, is because your character moves like they have a jetpack strapped to their back. The slightest touch forward of the left stick and you are gone; your character takes off and rockets forward. And that’s also the same, unfortunately, for the camera.
Now we have obviously come a long way since the PS2 was first released, and Timesplitters was basically a launch title for that console. But we have become spoilt with modern control schemes and setups. We have come to rely on the fact that we can change the sensitivity of the camera quickly and easily so that the game is better suited to your own play style. You can’t do that in Timesplitters.
Instead, it is set to an incredibly sensitive level that you’re just going to have to get used to. The game doesn’t care that the camera moves too fast for your playstyle; your play style is what needs to change.
The thing is, you can’t really hold that against Timesplitters too much, either. It was a sign of the times since FPS controls on consoles had yet to find common ground.
Thankfully, the developers of Timesplitters must have known it would be difficult to make a suitable control scheme and threw in an Auto-Aim function that is switched on by default. The way it works is, as long as the person is somewhere in the middle quarter of your screen, you’re going to hit them. This means that Auto-Aim makes it so that you can actually play the game!
Without that, you’ll find that the camera moves too fast, so you end up turning around all over the place. When you are up against a number of enemies, this can be a bit tricky as you can easily overshoot your aiming on a regular basis.
But, eventually, you can get the hang of the controls, especially with the help of Auto-Aim. Once you have gotten used to them, Timesplitters is a lot of fun!
Making your way through the levels is an energetic journey of bullets and corridors, with you gunning down as many of your enemies as possible. Then, once you have found that level’s item, the Timesplitters show up. This second half of each level can actually get your heart racing as the Timesplitters appear all over the place and you probably have very little health left.
Then, when you want a break from the story mode levels, there is a simple yet very well put together arcade mode. This consists of games like Deathmatch and Capture the Flag where you can play against friends with couch multiplayer, or bots. We ended the stream of Timesplitters playing a First To 20 Deathmatch against bots and it was hectic but amazing.
in terms of entertainment, it’s very subjective. Timesplitters is a beloved game for the PS2, and it certainly is fun to play. However, there are a few nagging issues that just have to be raised.
Starting with the level design, it really is the speed of Timesplitters’ gameplay that makes it fun. Honestly, if it wasn’t so fast-paced, it would get so repetitive and I wouldn’t want to play it.
This brings to light one significant issue that I have the game; the large majority of the single-player story missions revolve around the same formula. You start the level of having to run to the MacGuffin. Once you have it, the second half starts and you have to run back to the beginning location. That’s it. That is the gameplay loop for Timesplitters.
So, if it weren’t possible to finish these levels in under 4 minutes, it would get extremely dull. You would just be shooting enemies and doing the exact same thing over and over again, in different locations and different time periods.
Thankfully, as mentioned earlier, there is a way to have a little break from that repetition by jumping into the arcade mode. So, they’ve got this repetitive system in place for the story mode gameplay loop, but they managed to find ways to make it work by having each level end really quickly and then having this side arcade mode as well.
All of this means that the game is actually really fun. It doesn’t overstay its welcome on any of the levels and the arcade mode is definitely welcome. Again, you have to keep in mind that Timesplitters is a launch title for the PS2, and as such, it actually does a lot of things right.
Sure, it misses the mark on some aspects, but the game is still inherently entertaining. So, overall, I think they did a very good job with Timesplitters. However, would I recommend this to someone nowadays?
I would only recommend it if they were a fan of old school FPS games. I think anyone playing it now who’s never really played an old school FPS game would probably find it a little bit too tricky to get used to the controls. But if you have played older FPS games, Timesplitters is a lot of fun.
And That’s All Folks
In the end, Timesplitters gets held back slightly by the controls but remains an extremely enjoyable and entertaining game. If you enjoy (or have at least experienced) FPS games from before the common controller scheme was decided upon, then you’re probably going to have a lot of fun playing Timesplitters.
Have you played Timesplitters? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments below!
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- Weekly Showcase Rundown
- 7th January 2020