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Matt Keller
09 Oct, 2005

TimeSplitters: Future Perfect Review

Xbox Review | Gonna go back in time, as Huey Lewis once sang.
Often the launch of a new console is the perfect time to launch a new franchise, and newcomer Free Radical Entertainment did exactly that with TimeSplitters, a first person shooter which stuck closely to Goldeneye and Perfect Dark, which were both developed in part by some of the senior Free Radical team members. After the success of the original game on the PlayStation 2 (which went Platinum), Free Radical spread the series onto all current generation consoles with the much loved TimeSplitters 2, which added a boatload of new multiplayer modes, LAN play and co-operative single player modes. Now the series moves into trilogy territory with TimeSplitters: Future Perfect, under the wing of Electronic Arts.

Future Perfect does its best to address the shortcomings of its predecessors – namely by offering a much more cohesive single player game (which actually features a solid narrative), online play over Xbox Live (or Sony's online service), as well as adding a bunch of new multiplayer game modes, guns and controllable vehicles. The player takes control of a soldier named Cortez, and the action picks up in the middle of a battle between humans and the timesplitters. Cortez holds the last time crystal, which the humans need in order to go back in time to find out who triggered the events which lead to the arrival of the timesplitters and the start of the war. As you can guess, Cortez gets to do the dirty work, going through periods ranging from the early 1900s through to the 2200s, and meeting up with various characters from the previous game, such as Harry Tipper and Captain Ash. In true TimeSplitters style, the story mode doesn't exactly take itself too seriously, with plenty of humorous events taking place throughout the game's thirteen missions.

Cortez tears up the fabric of time and runs into himself constantly

Cortez tears up the fabric of time and runs into himself constantly
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The core gameplay of the TimeSplitters series remains intact in Future Perfect, but Free Radical has given the game some much needed tweaking. The old targeting reticule has been overhauled, so it no longer resembles the old screen-wide crosshair movement seen in Goldeneye – instead, the game now just toggles the crosshair on and off. The story mode is much more atmospheric, with tons of things going on at any one time – the first two missions have especially busy environments, being based in the middle of war zones. The characters in the game have a lot more personality – Cortez is a very likeable character, with a rather cool demeanour, great attitude and the worst comic timing ever (with jokes so cheesy, you'd expect them to come from the mouth of Chris-Leigh), while many of the game's other characters are equally as enjoyable to work with. Many parts of the game will have you co-operating with the game's other characters, who are controlled by the AI. This usually results in you having to cover them from a sniper's perch, controlling a vehicle while they man a gun (and vice-versa), or assisting them with some of the game's puzzles. The AI is actually quite solid in this respect, with solid pathfinding and an innate ability to avoid getting trapped in the environment - especially when compared to the game's enemy AI, which is a little less than intelligent on anything but the hard difficulty.

Harry Tipper's large moustache will protect you from enemy fire

Harry Tipper's large moustache will protect you from enemy fire
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Variety of game modes and match types has always been one of the biggest strengths of the TimeSplitters series, and Future Perfect carries on this fine tradition, serving up the arcade league mode, challenge mode and horde of multiplayer modes. There is also a ton of unlockables, with somewhere in the area of 150 characters, a bunch of levels and some match types needing unlocking. Thankfully, Future Perfect isn't as restrictive as the second game was in this regard – whereas the second game had diddly squat unlocked at the start, Future Perfect gives players a lot more options to start with, with plenty more to unlock. Arcade mode offers three different leagues with matches of varying play style and difficulty, with rewards offered based on how well you perform. Challenge mode offers crazier tasks, such as decapitating as many zombies as you can in the time limit, with trophies being offered once again based on the player's performance. Multiplayer comes in all shapes and sizes, from co-operative story mode to 16 players over Xbox Live. For the DSL challenged, bots and AI team mates can be thrown into the mix. Many favourite multiplayer matches return from TimeSplitters 2, such as the assault mode, while the standard deathmatch and team match modes can have added stipulations such as virus or shrink. There are a few new weapons in the game, such as a variation on the FarSight from Perfect Dark. For those who don't like being sniped through walls, weapon sets can be customised to balance the proceedings. Maps are plentiful in Future Perfect, but players can make their own via the game's map editor, and when they're done, they can trade them over Xbox Live.

Two fish are in a tank. One turns to the other and says "Do you know how to drive this thing?"

Two fish are in a tank. One turns to the other and says "Do you know how to drive this thing?"
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The TimeSplitters games have always been focused on delivering fast-paced action, and their graphics generally reflect this design decision – Future Perfect is no different. The game runs at a solid 60 frames per second, regardless of how much action, how many characters or how many effects are on screen at any one time. The player models look reasonably good, with decent animation, but you've got to keep in mind that they're designed for a fast paced game. Still, they have their own distinct style which we enjoy. The game's environments can be a little bland at times, especially in the texture department, but Future Perfect seems to have increased the size of the levels in the game, for which we are thankful. Future Perfect contains a 60 Hz mode, at the expense of the progressive scan mode offered by the NTSC version. Aurally, Future Perfect is functional, but unremarkable, offering up a serviceable techno-inspired sound track, solid voice acting and reasonably good sound effects. Dolby Digital 5.1 support is integrated for the Xbox version, while the others are limited to Pro Logic II.

In the end, TimeSplitters: Future Perfect is a reasonable progression for the series, fixing up some of the complaints we had about the previous title while maintaining and even improving on some of the aspects we enjoyed in the previous titles. It'll be interesting to see where the series goes from here, or if it remains under the guise of EA. If you're looking for a first person shooter that breaks away from the pack yet offers almost unlimited long term playability with scores of variety, or just needs a good multiplayer party title, then Future Perfect comes highly recommended.

This review is brought to you courtesy of Infinite Gameplay, with unlimited game rentals starting from $19.95 a month.
The Score
TimeSplitters: Future Perfect fixes up a few of the patchy things from the previous titles, while continuing to improve the features that make the series great. You'll be hard pressed to find a game that offers as much long term playability as this one. 8
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related TimeSplitters: Future Perfect Content

TimeSplitters Future Perfect Preview
14 Jul, 2004 Bigger, Better, Bolder, Online. TimeSplitters returns.
TimeSplitters 2 Review
30 Jan, 2003 The TimeSplitters are back in this bigger, better, faster and more furious sequel to the PS2's favourite shooter. Let the fun begin...
1 Comment
8 years ago
My bro has the PS2 version. Not a bad game, had my bro out of my face for 2-3 months. icon_smile.gif
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  Out Now
European Release Date:
  Out Now
Publisher:
  EA Games
Developer:
  Free Radical Design, Ltd.
Players:
  1-16

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