Review: Timesplitters: Future Perfect (Playstation 2)

In this review, we come to our own rescue in the Playstation 2 game Timesplitters: Future Perfect. We find out if this first person shooter game is worth a play.

This game was released in 2005. This is the final officially released game in the series. Two other games were in development, but as of this writing, haven’t been fully released. So, for now, we’ll say this is the last game in the series.

Previously, we reviewed the game Timesplitters. That game got a pretty decent score. We then tried the game Timesplitters 2. That game got quite a great score. So, we thought we’d try this last game to see if it ends the series on a strong point.

The games story takes place after the events of Timesplitters 2. Cortez has transported the time crystals back to base. Unfortunately, as he enters orbit, he is shot down. Cortez survives and is joined by fellow soldiers. Unfortunately, he is attacked by unknown hooded troops as well as the Timesplitters. He makes it back to base and is informed that he must follow residual traces of time travel to try and stop the Timesplitters. With no option, Cortex steps through the time travel portal to a remote island.

Like the last game, each mission has three difficulties: easy, medium, and hard. However, unlike the previous game, the different difficulties do not affect the maps or objectives in each mission. Instead, the difficulty merely impacts how much health enemies have as well as how much damage they do to you. In the hard difficulty, it is also very possible to have allies get killed in the mission as well.

One known quirk in the game ranking system is the fact that if you complete a mission on hard, you’ll complete the mission on all three difficulty settings. While this does help you earn a better rating more quickly, you’ll also be in for a difficult time completing missions. Meanwhile, completing missions on easy setting will give you a better chance to get a good feel for what to expect in each mission without things being punishingly difficult. Obviously, you won’t get as high of a percentage, but you’ll also be better prepared for the missions on harder difficulties. What style you choose to play really is up to you.

As mentioned, there is a rating you can earn. There are three different gaming modes you can play that will contribute to your percentage: story, league, and challenge. Complete all the challenges and league with golds or better and complete the story mode on hard to earn a 100%. Arcade mode also has awards. While you can collect awards, they do not contribute to your overall percentage.

Going back to the main story mode, you’ll be given a set number of objectives at the beginning. Often it is one or two, if any at all. As you progress through the mission, you’ll be given new objectives to complete. This might be a bit confusing on the second mission as you’ll only complete the last small set of objectives upon completion of the map. There are also optional objectives for you to complete as well, but they do not affect your ability to complete the game.

Like the previous game, you have two health bars. The red health bar is your health. Obviously, if you run out on this, you die. The other blue meter is your armour. If you acquire armour somewhere on the map, damage you take will be deducted from your armour first before your health.

There are a number of item pickups you can collect as well. There are health pickups and armour pickups. Not all pickups are created equal. Some will restore all health or armour. Others only restore a portion. How much also depends on difficulty. On hard, for instance, it’s possible to find a health pickup that will only restore 25% of your health for instance. A strategy that some players might employ is advancing past the health and returning after a bit when health runs low. This strategy only works on a rather limited basis as doors are known to lock behind them as well.

You’ll have a number of weapons at your disposal. The only thing that is consistent is the temporal uplink starting on mission 2. This has two functions. The first and most obvious function is object manipulation at a distance. While it can be used to flip switches beyond gaps, you can also snag items you can’t otherwise get to. The other function is to show the level map, though it isn’t likely you’ll use this for much in the grand scheme of things.

You’ll also get a set of weapons for each mission. What kind of weapons you get really depends on the mission, however, there are classes of weapons for each set. The most basic weapon is the pistol. You can have duel pistols or you can have a single pistol. An additional number of features you can get is basic zoom and silencer. Again, what you get depends on availability and set.

A second weapon is the machine gun. This can fire shots at a rapid fire pace. In some sets, there are actually multiple weapons that can perform this function.

A third weapon is the rocket launcher. On one set, this is a secondary function to a weapon. On other sets, it is its own weapon with a rapid fire function.

A fourth weapon is the sniper rifle. One sniper rifle has a nifty small shield. Others just fire regularly. Either way, they serve as your long range weapon.

There are a host of miscellaneous weapons available as well. One weapon charges up. Another weapon allows you to see electronic devices. One is a flame thrower. You’ll even have a baseball bat to bash enemies around like in May Payne. This, of course, is a mere sampling of what you’ll find. There are just a lot of weapons you can find that don’t quite fit in the general weapons category.

Another thing you’ll find are various tools you can use along the way. Some are computer terminals that you can operate with a fully functional mouse. Another tool is the crane which you can use to dispatch with an enemy. Other tools you can find are vehicles and even a giant robot. Some tools are optional while others are mandatory for completing missions.

In most missions, you’ll get someone to help you along in missions. Some helpers are more useful than others. Often, they are able to unlock certain parts of a level. Others simply, well, require defending. In a number of instances, you’ll get a health bar to show that persons health. If that health drops to nothing, you’ll fail your mission.

You’ll also encounter a number of bosses. Bosses generally have a health meter. Some weapons are more useful than others, so exploring of weapons can be key to your success as you dig for the right weapon. A hint of what weapon might be useful is sometimes found in the ammo pickups in the boss rooms. In the tank battle, for instance, there are multiple locations where you can pick up explosives. Chances are, that might be a critical item to use in your fight against it.

Along the way, you’ll also get messages from your assistant Anya. She is often able to give you small hints here and there. The bonus is that she is able to see everything you do. So, if you go to certain locations or activate certain things, you might get a rather amusing exchange with her from time to time.

As you complete missions, you’ll be able to unlock a number of characters. There is one set of characters you can unlock on easy while other other set can be unlocked by completing missions on medium or hard. Complete story more on the various difficulties and you’ll unlock a character depending on what difficulty you complete the whole game. These characters can be used in arcade mode.

In total, there are about a dozen missions that span several time periods and locations. They all have their own unique characteristics, but they will keep you occupied for a while.

As mentioned, there are other modes available in the game. One mode is the league mode. You can either play league or arcade, but league is the mode that gives you the chance to improve your rating. It should be noted that you can customize arcade mode with any number of combinations which means practically an endless supply of different multi-player style modes.

In league, there are various game styles that you can play. Essentially, it’s like a simulated multi-player mode. You have three difficulties to choose from, but you have to complete them in order from easiest to hardest as the harder difficulties need to be unlocked first. The easiest mode is Amateur League. The medium difficulty is the Honorary League. Finally, the hardest difficulty is the Elite League.

In each league, there is a set of 9 missions. You’ll only have access to three of them which is the starting mission to each three sets. Complete mission 1 and you’ll gain access to mission two in the set. Complete mission 2 and you’ll unlock the last mission in the set. Now, complete all the missions in the league and you’ll unlock the next league.

There are a number of different arcade modes you can encounter. This includes melee mode, virus, gladiator, and zones. Each type has a set number of rules you need to follow for complete victory. In addition to this, league mode also adds a layer of rules that you need to follow in order to get the necessary awards. Sometimes, just winning the match just isn’t enough.

The reason why there are certain conditions you need to follow in this mode is because of the award you earn after. There are four different awards you can earn: bronze, silver, gold, and the hidden platinum award. If it’s just unlocking the next level, bronze is certainly more than sufficient to get the job done. However, this won’t get you the highest percentage completion rating. For that, you need gold or better. Platinum awards are there if you exceed the gold rating and want to push the match just a little bit more. You won’t get much extra, but it is certainly there more for the extra challenge than anything else.

Finally, there is a challenge mode. Like league, you can earn a higher percentage by completing various missions with gold or better. Unlike league, you get a list of sets of three mission types. Missions range from the mere practising of a skill. Other missions are so silly, they just have no practical application to any other mission in the game. The more missions you complete (preferably with gold or better), the higher your overall completion rating.

There are plenty of other modes available. One of the more famous non-productive mode is the map maker. This mode allows you to create completely custom maps from scratch using modules. While this may sound limited, you can modify weapons placement, item placements, lighting, base locations, and a whole lot more. It’s actually fairly flexible. The other option is the ability to share the maps over the Internet. Suffice to say, there is a lot to appreciate and experience in this game beyond the basic modes.

One thing I do like is that there is a fair amount of gameplay to be had. When I completed the main campaign on easy, I thought I had actually done a lot in the game. When I saw the completion rating still below 10%, I probably had that thought a lot of other gamers had at that moment, “Oh…”

If that campaign was truly only 10% of the actual game, I would have been even more impressed, though. The fact that percentage is tied to difficulty did shrink how large this game really is as gameplay is, in fact, layered over itself three times. That doesn’t mean this game is small by any means, of course. You still have hours of gameplay just making it through as far as possible in the main campaign.

The other two modes adds a fair amount of gameplay. It’s actually faster to gain percentage points in those additional modes because some rounds barely last two and a half minutes each whereas campaign levels take, well, longer.

On your first run through, eclipsing 10 hours in-game (yes, the game has an internal timer) is a very easy thing – and that is if you are basically clearing every level on the first try. An accomplishment that, naturally, gets harder to do the further into the game you go. Even speedrunners need multiple hours to get the game to 100%. So, the point in all of this is that the game definitely takes time to get through.

Another feature I like about this game is the use of checkpoints. By gaming standards at this point in time, this is nothing new. The game Halo – Combat evolved boasted this type of feature a few years earlier. Still, in a game like this where levels can be long, it’s nice to have this to save on time.

What is nice to see is various puzzles in the game. Not only are there straight up puzzle solving locations where you turn dials to complete a circuit, but there are other puzzles you need to solve that are more practical. This includes busting someone out of prison, opening sealed doors, and even taking out a submarine in areas using only the resources available. The fact that this game challenges you beyond simply being able to take down enemies is something that gets a thumbs up from me.

In addition to this, this game does introduce a somewhat novel concept of playing co-op with yourself. Yes, you play each character one at a time, but your actions are emulated on the next round through. I thought this was an interesting concept.

Another thing I do like about this game is the writing. While the writing may not seem to be top notch at first, it actually gets better as time goes on. The reason why it doesn’t seem that strong at first is because there is a lot going on that is designed for you to not notice initially, but you get to make connections later on in the game. That sense of humour that prevails throughout an otherwise serious game works very well in this games favour.

The added league and challenge feature you get to play outside of the story mode is also a very nice touch. It extends the strong writing already found in the main story mode as well as add whole new dynamic way of playing this game. Let’s just say that this game has a weirdly funny obsession with monkeys at some point.

I also like that this game allows players to exercise their creativity with the level map editor. If you like building things, this game caters to that type of gamer as well. While not exactly a novel feature at this point in time in the world of gaming, it is a pretty rare feature to have as well. I haven’t seen something like this since Duke Nukem 3D. Even then, Duke Nukem 3D was a later added feature someone made and contributed to the community. This level of expandable play is actually built straight into the game itself from the get go. To some degree, it’s expanding on that open source ideology without actually really being open source.

The only thing I’m not a huge fan is the removal of one concept introduced in the previous game. In the previous game, you get levels that actually expand whenever you increase the difficulty. Like Perfect Dark, if you choose a harder difficulty in a particular level, you get to explore areas in a level that are otherwise inaccessible. It’s like an added incentive to try the harder difficulties because you get more to see and do. In this game, that has been removed entirely.

Offsetting this is the fact that there isn’t such a large difficulty jump like in the previous game. In the previous Timesplitters game, going from easy to medium ramped up the difficulty a lot. In this game, if you played the game on easy and you go to medium, you’ll be challenged, but it won’t be an impossible leap.

Generally speaking, this game is quite enjoyable. It has a lot of content and many different ways that you can challenge yourself. At the same time, it isn’t ridiculously to the point where new players would get turned off from it either. Not an easy balance to maintain, but this game does so successfully. The level map maker and arcade mode ensures players will have plenty to do over and above the main game content. The great writing is also a nice added bonus. While it is disappointing to see added content for harder difficulties getting removed, at least the difficulty ramping between difficulties is less extreme. So, a very solid game.

The graphics is also very solid. While the various animations are nice, they are also expected for a game at this time as well. The effects of explosions such as the water drop effects, cracking effects, and various explosions are nicely done. I also like the way everything is modelled. It has a fairly realistic look to them while, at the same time, retains a sort of cartoon or comic book feel to it which allows for that added sense of humour to shine through. I would call this a great effort all around.

Meanwhile, the audio is an interesting thing to talk about. A pitfall of this game is that the music isn’t as strong as the previous game. Of course, you have to keep in mind the fact that the music in the previous game is probably one of the best I’ve heard in a more modern game. So, that is, in all fairness, a tough act to follow. That’s not to say there isn’t hits in this game too. The second level music and the “Like a Monkey” tracks do add a nice flair to the game.

Of course, there is more to audio than music. The sound effects are pretty good. The effects used on some weapon do have a satisfying sound to them. An example of this is the sci-fi sniper rifle which has such a satisfying sound even if it actually isn’t all that powerful. Having to empty whole clips on a single enemy at times doesn’t make me think it’s a strong weapon. I think where this game really shines is through the voice acting here. Great lines is one thing, but the delivery is another. This game nails the delivery in my view.

Overall, this is a great game. The quantity is certainly there and the quality doesn’t disappoint. The added challenges over and above the main story is nice to see. I thought the writing is top notch and the map maker gives this game almost endless gameplay from a practical sense. The graphics are nicely done with so many different effects added to nicely realized levels. The music may not be as strong, but this game does make up for it with great voice acting and sound effects. So, I would call this a great game well worth playing.

Overall
Furthest point in game: Completed the game on easy and medium. Failed mission 3 on hard. Earned a 50.5% completion rating as well.

General gameplay: 20/25
Replay value: 9/10
Graphics: 8/10
Audio: 4/5

Overall rating: 82%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.



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