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TimeSplitters 2 (video game)

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This is a review where I’m going to tell you why TimeSplitters 2 is one of the best first-person shooter games I’ve ever played.

But…there’s a problem here…I’m not exactly sure why.

It’s a bit like trying to tell someone why you like a certain song. You end up just making a list of things you like: it’s got a good melody…oh, this part’s really cool…listen to this drum thing, man that’s cool…and the lyrics are so cool, too…So there’s a lot of vagueness that I have to sort of arbitrarily piece together in order to make a point. There are many things TimeSplitters has that you can find in other games…but…Timesplitters is just better. Ultimately that will prove to be my thesis: Timesplitters 2 is…just a better game.

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My first point will be “smoothness.” Other games have smoothness…Halo, XIII, good ol’ GoldenEye, Red Faction…they’re all pretty smooth, too. But there’s something I can’t put my finger on about TS, something more natural and intelligent to the smoothness. The smoothness in most first-person shooters (FPS) seems mechanical, like your character is a robot moving in straight lines only. I think I would probably need to know more about the design and conception of video games to be able to explain it, but the speed that things move in TS is just right, the acceleration more like the human eye, the movements of things believable and never distracting, and the auto-aim works beautifully–it’s never distracting, and not so helpful as to make skill unecessary. This smoothness includes one of the best and most satisfying sniper rifles I’ve ever played.

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One thing that TS does an explicitly better job of than other FPS is just sheer creativity and cleverness. There’s a lot of running here and there and shooting people in FPS, so TS added some creative aspects to the game to mark it above the rest. Other games have cameras and cameraguns that you want to avoid, but TS let’s you go into control rooms and turn off the cameras, and even control the camera’s movements–even use the enemies cameraguns against them. There’s a level where you have to defuse bombs. Been done, right? Well, TS makes one of the bombs in a large enclosed area, and to defuse it you have to control a remote machine that picks it up and drops it into a place where it can safely explode. One of the levels, when played in multiplayer, has Player 2 begin the game in a jail cell, and player one has to rescue them before the real fighting even starts. Giant Monsters you can’t kill? You have to lure them after you until they unwittingly fall into trap doors in the floor. Over and over, TS is finding ways to accomplish standard FPS tasks in non-standard ways. If, like me, you felt like you were getting bored with FPS, you will probably still have a good time with TS.

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Best Part(s) of the Game:
Besides those things listed above, my favorite parts both involve unusual targets at the aim of your gun. The first is zombies. The Zombies in TS are extraordinarily satisfying to kill. The main reason for this is that it’s very difficult, and sometimes impossible, to kill the zombies by shooting them just anywhere. It is necessary to shoot a zombie in the head if you want to kill them. Although I have killed probably 100s of zombies in that game, pulling off a really great head-shot in a FPS is still so honey; and any game that specifically creates characters–the zombies–to encourage a greedy amount of those satisfying head hits gets bonus points in my book.

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The other strange thing is this level where evil “sentient” monkeys throw bomb-coconuts at you. In no other game that I know of are you encouraged to shoot and kill relatively cute-looking monkeys. I played this with Tyler, and throughout the monkey-killing many “I ain’t come from no monkey” evolution jokes proceeded. And if that weren’t enough, in the same level you are shooting tribal natives who are trying to protect something sacred to them or something. So all in all, it’s a very politically incorrect level.

Worst part of the game:
There is really only one gripe I have with the game. Playing the game on “Normal” difficulty is very difficult; you have to be on your toes to finish the level. So, you might think, when you just want to play around and not get serious, you switch it to “Easy,” right? Well, the “easy” level is substantially easier, to the point where you don’t really feel challenged at all. I do not think I or any of my friends have ever died on “easy” difficulty. And what’s more, on “easy” there’s about half as many guys to kill and half as many objectives to complete. In other words they didn’t merely make “easy” easy, they also made it a lot less fun. To improve it, they shouldn’t change the amount of enemies or the missions among different difficulties–all they should really change is the amount of damage you take when you get hit, and the amount of ammo you can find lying around.

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Perhaps this is what they’ve done with TS 3, which is out now, and which several of my friends have said is just amazing, and better and improved in many ways. I’d really like to try that. I should also say before I conclude, that, of course, the multiplayer is just as incredible, smooth, and fun as the story levels, and the challenges are even very excellent, although a couple of them can be tedious. I won’t have access to a Gamecube for quite some time, so it’s unfortunate that I won’t be able to play for a while. I’m glad that the last game I played was such a good one.

P.S. Thanks to Brandon Troy for recommending the game in the first place.

P.P.S. In some of the future levels of the game, there is a gun called the “Sci-Fi Handgun” where every laser you shoot ricochets off 4 or 5 walls before it dissipates. Click here to see this gun in action. I just want to point out that this “gun of the future” is not a step in the right direction, as a gun that intentionally ricochets is very problematic and dangerous. You can see several occasions in that clip where the user hits themselves with their own fire. If there is something I can do now to prevent that gun from being invented for use in the year 2315, let me do it now: please don’t invent this gun.

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