At a glance...

Previewer Platform Publisher Developer Players Release Date Screenshots
Unknown PlayStation 2 Eidos Free Radical Software 1-4 (Split-screen), 2-16 (i.Link 18th October 2002 Here

TimeSplitters 2 preview

Goldeneye, the game based on the Bond film of the same name, was a shoot-em-up on Nintendo's old N64 created by second-party developers Rare. It wasn't just any first person shooter, but proclaimed to be one of the best ever alongside Half-Life. However, after Goldeneye, Rare lost the 007 licence to EA, and so the company began development of Perfect Dark - a follow-up to Goldeneye, but not related by story and characters in anyway (although the two shared the basic game engine and primary gameplay features). However, trouble broke out during the development process and some of Rare's best staff walked out of the company. This renegade group got together and formed their own company, Free Radical Design. Being a bunch of ex-Rare geniuses they were quickly snapped up by Eidos, and work began on developing a first person shooter title for the PlayStation 2 European launch. The game turned out to be one of the best launch titles ever (barring the later release of Halo on the Xbox, of course), and although the single player aspect of the game lacked depth, the multiplayer mayhem was a reason in itself to buy a PS2 multi-tap and this was proclaimed by Free Radical themselves to make up for the rushed one player experience.

However, here we are nearly two years later gearing up for TimeSplitters 2 on the PlayStation 2 and it's turned out that Free Radical didn't really mean what they said about the multiplayer making up for single player, as TS2 features a completely revamped story mode. Instead of simply going in, getting the briefcase, and rushing out battling a ton of spawning-in TimeSplitters on the way, you are given an array of primary and secondary objectives that give levels a much bigger scope and also offering fun with the likes of burning file cabinets with the flame-thrower, as seen in the first level, Siberia 1990. This level (which is now available for public playing on issue 25 - October 2002 - of Official PlayStation 2 Magazine-UK) also shows how the levels have grown enormously in scale, with Siberia's huge dam become a giant arena for stealth tactics as you carefully break through the Soviet forces. Each of the nine enormous levels is set in a different time zone, and each offer unique objectives, playable characters, enemies, weapons, and iconic surroundings. Travel to Chicago in the 1930s and prepare to face the Mafia gangs. Pop over to Planet X in the twenty-second century and meet aliens and futuristic technology. Free Radical have really given the single player mode a lot of depth in this sequel, and hope to offer the player more than just an addictive multiplayer mode.

However, that's not to say that Free Radical hasn't worked a lot on the multiplayer modes. From my play of the four player split-screen mode I can say that the gameplay is still fast and fluid, and that playing against three humans (and maybe a bunch of deadly A.I. bots) has never been so much fun. There are fifteen multiplayer modes this time round including old favourites like deathmatch, bag-tag, and capture the bag, as well as new original modes such as Zones (like Unreal Tournament's Domination mode), Elimination (a knock-out style competition with a set number of lives) and the amusing Monkey Assistant (where the player in last place is aided by a gun-carrying monkey). However, the fun doesn't stop at split-screen play, as the PlayStation 2 version supports i.Link mode, allowing you to link up to eight consoles together, allowing for up to sixteen players in one game - that could be four players each on four machines, or two players each on eight machines. This allows for you to have more of your mates round for excellent multiplayer fun. Online play was original intended for the PS2 version, but due to time restrictions and the lack of an online infrastructure in Europe, the mode had to be remove, although with the rest of the fun it is not really missed that much.

But TimeSplitters 2, like it's predecessor, isn't just about 'basic' features (although I really can't call nine expansive single player levels and fifteen multiplayer modes basic). The sequel bring back the extra delights of two player cooperative play, the bonus challenge mode packed with waky sub-missions, and the excellent and easy-to-use map maker that now allows bigger levels and even the creation of single player missions with objectives and A.I. enemies. Although I have not tried these modes out, from the look of the rest of the nearly complete game, I can tell that these will b just as brilliant and that all PlayStation 2 owners should save up for copy of this when it's released next month. Stay tuned to for the full review soon.

Previewed by Matt Bailey

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