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TimeSplitters 2 Review - Gamecube

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When you've got a first-person shooter from a development team whose members can include the pre-Halo king of the genre on their resumes - Goldeneye 007 - it's understandably got some pretty high expectations to meet.

And TimeSplitters 2 delivers on every level, to just about every player, from the hardcore to the casual. Developer Free Radical has taken the FPS, and without making any huge innovations in core gameplay, created an incredibly deep experience that begs for hour upon hour of replay.

Gameplay

For the most part, first-person shooters rely heavily on multiplayer aspects to extend the amount of time you'll spend with them, but TimeSplitters 2 also caters to the solo gamer not interested in sharing their screen with a friend.

Not only is there a lengthy and challenging Story mode worth tackling more than once, thanks to optional secondary objectives that don't need to be completed - if you want to focus on simply getting a handle on the level before trying any non-essential elements, you can always come back for a later visit - but there's also Arcade League mode, with deathmatches against CPU-controlled bots to help you polish your skills, and Challenge.

Variety is the keyword here: the sci-fi time travel storyline isn't particularly immersive, but it provides a framework for environments that are very different from each other, and opens the door for some really interesting combinations - seeing Wild West outlaws running around with high-tech beam weapons in a Blade Runner-like setting, for instance, provides a welcome change of pace from the usual FPS that's locked into one particular 'era' - everyone should be able to find something to their liking here, and with over one hundred different characters to work with, each with their own quirks and combat styles, the possibilities are near-endless.

The themes of the environments, weapons, and characters range from Aztec ruins in the 1920s to the gangster-infested Prohibition Chicago, circa 1932, up to more modern settings, like a remote Russian scientific outpost in Siberia in 1990, and even futuristic ones, such as a cyberpunk-inspired Tokyo in 2019.

Control is solid and very intuitive - I had my doubts going in as to how well the Gamecube controller would lend itself to a FPS, and the answer, at least here, is very well. Using the C stick for precise tweaking of the crosshairs takes a little getting used to, but after a few hours it felt completely natural.

Graphics

What really makes the visuals shine are not only the sheer quality and polish Free Radical applied to them - there's a huge dish of eye-candy to be had here - but also the sense of style. Rather than go for ultra-realism, there's a cartoon-like quality to the designs that gives the game a sense of humor without making the action feel too light-hearted, it's a near-perfect blend. TimeSplitters 2 has a completely unique ... (continued next page)
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