TimeSplitters: RETROspective

written by Incognito

 

Do you remember when video games were fun? You’d start up the game sit down on the couch and think “Man, I am gonna have a good time!”. Well I do. I am not saying that gaming is dying and its not the same anymore but, I kinda also am at the same time. It’s just a different landscape. Maybe it’s my nostalgia kicking in but I just don’t remember too many games making me have so much fun and laugh so much. Let’s go 13 years back to the Playstation 2, Gamecube, and XBox era of gaming. To look back on a gem not many of you probably know or remember, TimeSplitters.

 

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For those of you that missed out on The TimeSplitters series, it’s a trilogy of first person shooters created by Free Radical, a company that sadly no longer exists. They were lucky enough to get many members of the team that made the incredibly successful Goldeneye 64 on their development staff for TimeSplitters. So what was it that this game had that made me fall so in love with it? Personality, story, characters, and some things that just don’t seem to exist in the same ways anymore. These games make you laugh, ALOT. They have a charm to them that is honestly hard to find anymore. The characters are so memorable even when you just spend a couple of hours with them, mission by mission. The silliness of these games are what I remember most. They have this anything and everything goes kind of approach to design and they were extremely generous with the content, as this came before the days of rampant DLC and micro-transactions.

 

So, how does TimeSplitters hold up in the areas that really matter? How is the “game” part of the game? Well, let’s break it down. The gameplay part of the series is for lack of a better word or two, fucking old. These games are over a decade old and you can really feel it in the controls, especially in comparison to today’s modern shooters. The gun play just feels so clunky. It’s like trying to aim with a mouse on the surface of a Rubix cube. TimeSplitters shares more with games like Goldeneye and Turok when it comes to the aiming mechanics. Forget those iron sights. Instead of zooming in with your gun, you are going to be zooming in with your strange sort of “extendo eyes” instead. Aiming tends to involve just jerking your character left, right, up and down without any fluidity. However, they do combine it with a dedicated precision aiming button and you’ve got a functional shooting system. It takes some getting use to after 10 years of the right trigger or mouse button for iron sights but it still works.

 

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TimeSplitters’ campaign is a non-stop action-packed package compared to the slow and sometimes methodical pace set by many modern shooter games. It seems like First-Person Shooters have kind of pigeon-holed themselves over the last decade a lot of them focused solely on the shooting and the guns now leaving room for little else. There’s no room for fun when the whole team spends two years on reload animations. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with a good looking first-person shooter with fancy guns and solid shooting. Not at all. What I am saying is that’s the base level of what is expected from a first-person shooter. Is it so much to ask for something more than just shooting the same enemies in the face for 40 hours or more? Personally, I don’t want to do the same camp, or tower, or fort over and over again. That is the experience delivered by so called AAA games. Not TimeSplitters though. This is a game all about constantly giving you new and fun things to mess around with. Whether it’s a new weapon, a puzzle to solve, a fresh enemy type, a temporary mechanic or a batshit insane customized multiplayer mode played on a map that you built.

I truly believe that TimeSplitters delivers an experience that is honestly unlike any other. If the controls were updated to the standard of the market today, the game could easily flourish just from its multiplayer aspect alone. You could play as every character from the campaign including a monkey who tries to eat your brain and a crazy sentient gingerbeard man experiment. It was just plain fun and I honestly really miss that. I love me some competitive shooting games but I really wanna go back to aching side laugh marathons of yesteryear. Because killing you as a gingerbread man duel wielding double barrel shot-guns is just plain hilarious.

Alright back to a more serious note. One of the biggest things that makes the trilogy a little dated is its gender relations. Maybe I’m reaching a bit here, but it doesn’t seem like a reach to say that women are objectified a lot in this series. If I had to say why that is, I would say that this game was made for immature dudes by immature dudes. I don’t really know who made these game, it could have been an all-female team but somehow I doubt that.

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Okay so I will stop gushing over these games. they were great games and still to this day I would recommend them over and over again. I now even at this moment while writing this article have such a hankering to go play them some more. I really hope we can get back to this creative direction that Free Radical were on when they thought up and created these games. The game hold up pretty well in my opinion and if you have never played them please give them a try. Get a couple of friends, a couple of controllers and experience it for what it’s worth. The TimeSplitters series deserves its limelight once again and I hope for the day that I get to see them in HD or even just a full reboot. Here’s hoping!

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