The series so far: The Definitive 50 GameCube Games.
As Perfect Dark was nearing the end of its development, several members of Rare’s top FPS talent left to form their own development studio, Free Radical. At the new company, the design philosophies that made GoldenEye and Perfect Dark so much fun lived on and flourished in the form of the TimeSplitters series.
Although the first TimeSplitters missed the GameCube, its expanded and superior sequels did make it, providing Cubers with the same frantic and wildly fun FPS action they had grown to love on the N64.
In the year 2401, humanity is in the fight of its life against the hideous TimeSplitters aliens. The creatures are using time crystals to visit different periods in human history, alter events, and try to take us down that way. It’s up to you, as Sergeant Cortez, to hop from era to era fighting the TimeSplitters, and collecting the time crystals.
Unlike the linear shooters of today, TimeSplitters 2‘s single player levels are not just some series of shoot-outs and set pieces, but rather complex scenarios filled with objectives, roaming enemies, and sprawling environments. Each of the game’s 10 campaign levels takes players to wildly different times and places, from 1990 Siberia to 2019 NeoTokyo, and from 1895 Notre Dame to 2280 Planet X.
In addition to the campaign mode, TimeSplitters 2 includes two other solo options. In the Arcade League, players are tossed into otherwise multiplayer maps with per-determined settings and bots. Meanwhile, the Challenge mode gives players mini-game styled objectives such as smashing glass and beheading swarms of the undead. Both the Arcade League and Challenge modes encourage players to strive for ever greater performances by rewarding medals and, as with story mode, unlockable content.
Of course, as with its N64 predecessors, as awesome as all of TimeSplitters 2‘s single player content is, the game is still more about the multiplayer.
The Arcade mode provides an overwhelming degree of combat variety. Weapons range from the traditional to the insane, and so do the levels. Incredibly, over 100 playable characters are available. Express yourself, or just amuse your friends by picking a robot, gangster, golem, space marine, jungle queen, or undead priest. If you want to be hated, take the TimeSplitters equivalent of OddJob, and play as a height-challenged monkey. Gloriously, combat is not limited to the four human players who fit on a TV screen, but an additional 12 customizable bots.
Even if, somehow, you ever manage to tire of all of the game’s multiplayer settings, there’s also a mapmaker mode, which provides players with the ability to create their own levels, and extend the fun to a degree approaching infinity.
The best thing about TimeSplitters 2 is that even after you’ve conquered all the numerous challenges and explored the near-endless settings combinations, there’s just as much again to experience in its sequel, Future Perfect.
Sadly, Free Radical has gone through some hard times in recent years. Following the flop of Haze, much of the company’s staff was let go and TimeSplitters 4 was cancelled. The studio was picked up by Crytek, and is now known as Crytek UK. Rumours to the contrary persist, but I’m not confident we’ll be getting a new TimeSplitters any time soon.