PUBLISHER: Eidos Interactive
DEVELOPER: Free Radical Design
RELEASE DATE: 10/26/00 (US), 11/24/00 (EU)
TimeSplitters is both a nostalgic multiplayer romp, filled with different modes, characters, and options, and a terrible single-player shooter, devoid of life, content, and substance.
The ‘Story’ mode is generously titled. TimeSplitters has no story, save for the short blurb on the back of the box. What it does have are nine moderately sized single-player maps, all set in different time periods. Each map gives you two unique protagonists to play as, a male and female, although neither character controls much differently than the other. The goal of each map is to shoot dozens of hapless goons, find a specific item, then hightail it back to the beginning of the level before the TimeSplitters appear and eat your face.
He’s not a TimeSplitter, but this zombie priest will still eat your face.
Whether in Easy, Normal, or Hard difficulties, the Story mode is a desperate chore. Each map is relatively short if you know where to go. Even with that caveat, enemies like to shoot you from dark corners. With each bullet you ingest, your life bar dwindles quickly, which means you’ll die a lot. The key to success here (should you care enough) is enemy placement memorization. Know where the enemies are located, shoot them before they shoot you, and you should be mostly fine. Once you’ve collected the necessary item, however, the titular goblins appear and can kill you within a couple strikes, even with full health. In other words, you can make it nearly to the end, item in hand, before dying at the claws of a TimeSplitter. No, I do not want to try to race through the Chemical Plant circa 1985 yet again.
I see you up there, jerk face!
Challenge Mode is unlocked after beating Story Mode on any difficulty. Since I didn’t (couldn’t? wouldn’t?) beat Story Mode, I can not say whether Challenge Mode is worth playing or not. The missions I looked up involved shooting off lots of zombie/mummy heads in a limited time, shooting a certain number of items like glass or plates in (again) a limited time, and helping your team win the match by getting a select amount of kills. All challenges are set within the confines of the nine levels featured in Story Mode. If you enjoyed Story Mode and exhausted all of its limited possibilities, I imagine Challenge Mode will bring you a moderate amount of pleasure.
Eat some food, you homicidal string beans!
As with most first-person shooters of any kind, TimeSplitters shines in multiplayer. Multiplayer adds nine more maps, more characters, more weapons, more modes, more more. Frankly, the single-player feels like an afterthought by comparison.
Standard deathmatch is included, of course, but there’s also Capture the Bag, Bagtag, Knockout, Escort, and Last Stand. In Bagtag, you collect a bag somewhere on the map, then hang onto it for as long as you can. Capture the Bag is exactly like Capture the Flag, only with a bag instead of a flag (fancy that). In Knockout, you collect items and bring them back to the starting point; whoever collects the most items by the end wins. Escort sees you protecting an item among hordes of enemies. Finally, Last Stand has you guarding bases and staying alive for as long as possible against overwhelming odds.
The map design lends itself better to full-on crazy shootouts, than they do slow, methodical action. All of the either computer and/or human-controlled characters are constantly on the move and looking for people to kill. Constant movement makes for sloppier shooting makes for a more even playing field than in Story Mode, where the computer-controlled enemies are more stable and seem to have godlike aim.
Hey, that mummy stole my watch!
And anyway, the multiplayer modes are just more enjoyable to play through, whether with friends or bots. Free Radical Design was made up of ex-Rare staffers, and it shows. TimeSplitters’ multiplayer modes feel like a continuation of Goldeneye 007 and Perfect Dark, only with better framerates. The only downside is the need for a Multitap (sold separately) if you want to play with more than one other person.
She just wanted it more.
For the TimeSplitters fan who has everything, there’s also a Map Maker mode that – you guessed it – lets you make your own maps. I applaud the option (you can change lighting effects!), but I never ventured there. To desire to make my own level within TimeSplitters would imply that I cared enough about the game to do so. I don’t. The multiplayer mode is tops, but I’m not a multiplayer guy. The single-player modes are right crap compared to the creators’ previous games, and that’s where I attempted to spend most of my Time. As such, I’m Splitting this grade right down the middle. You know where it’s goin’.
Listen to our TimeSplitters podcast here.