Free radical Timeline
1997 - The game that changed a generation. Lead developers left and formed their own company, Free Radical.
2000 - Simple Story mode, but epic split screen and plenty to keep you playing for months, spanning decades
2005 - Put Timesplitters on the map, good Story and a split-screen to match.
2007 - Finished the series with a story that out shone anything before it.
2008 - Sealed Free Radicals fate and was soon closed.
STOP Monkeying around!
Timesplitters created my love for First Person Shooters, but its origins can be traced further back to Goldeneye for the N64. Not owning the game didn’t stop my love for it. My cousin however, did own the game and every time I went round his house, the first thing I would say “Get Goldeneye on”. Despite not having the game, I still racked up a decent amount of time playing it. Our favourite being the split screen death matches. Paintball mode and the various cheats just added to its sense of fun and enjoyment. But Timesplitters roots could be seen in the health and armour gauges, (as below) something that didnt change across the three titles and made ex-Goldeneye gamers feel at home.
I was lucky enough to get one of the first batches of the PlayStation 2, and what drew me to Timeplitters was the idea of playing across various time periods with weapons ranging from Blunderbuss, Tommy Guns, modern day and future type ones. I will admit, the story was bland, simply making your way to a collectible and getting back to the start was not the most impressive story mode around, but it was okay to play with a friend. What made it even more enjoyable was getting a multi-tap and playing 4 person split screen. I played it enough to know where each of my friends where and gracefully pound them every game.
The amount on offer from the game was staggering, the story, arcade and challenges kept me coming back time after time. Unlocking unique characters, like Robofish and more zombies to blow their heads off never got old. It even had something I miss dearly from today’s games, Button customisation. Every analogue stick and button could be changed, even down to while aiming. I originally used the left stick to walk forward and back and turn on the spot and the right stick to look up/down and strafe. (I think it’s because of Goldeneye and the N64 only had the one analogue stick). Anyway, this became a problem when aiming my weapon, but I was able to customise this so when I was holding L1, the sticks changed so looking left/right and up/down was on a single stick.
When I got together with my girlfriend (now anti-gaming wife) we became quite a team and even against two friends and ALL the AI bots we were unstoppable. All the game modes, mixed things up and kept us going. Bag Tag, collect the bag and anything bag in between. It was an Old School game with non-regenerating health and weapon pick-ups, but everything was customizable. Wanted to start the game with 2 mini-guns? No problem. My favourite weapon was the Sci-fi rifle with its secondly fire was a grenade launcher that my friends could never remember. But have a death match with weapons spanning 100years was and still is unique to this series and makes the game what it was. I was 95% of the time charming, Peakaboo Jones, from the Haunted mansion level, styling a very fabulous red Hawaiian shirt. But all the characters had their own intros which made them all unique in their own little way.
Still to this day, I have never had so much fun with friends round my house. When Timespitters 2 was released I was now living with said Girl-friend and thankfully the story mode was much improved. (it actually had a story to it). We completed most the game and challenges, but the Arcade split screen, didn’t impress as much as the game before. Im caulking some of it down to motion blur (which it was very bad), but it generally wasn’t as enjoyable as the first. Too much going on, new modes, power-ups, it had lost its simplicity and gained Monkeys. The flamethrower was a constant pain too, flaming enemies and then getting caught myself and burning to death. The highlight of the game for me was the story itself. Playing co-op was still great fun; the story still lacked sense and fluidity. And the original Timesplitters was still the go to, for split-screen action. I even tried to make a map on the editor of the place I worked, not with much luck. But it showed it had lasting power over the second for me. Also unknown to me at the time, it included a weapon that is now very close to my heart. The SP-90, is a version of the P90, the weapon I use in airsoft today, a very unique weapon.
Future Perfect was the best story of the three. Following Cortez thought all the different time periods, the interaction between the “partners”, it all just came together. While finally explaining what the hell, these Timesplitters where in the first place, it finished the series wrapping up loose ends and going with a bang. However, like the second, the arcade was even more of a let-down. Too much going on for me, loosing even more of the enjoyment and it was rarely played again with friends; we all still opted for the first. Didn't help the characters carried on with the cartoony look and fell from the second.
Looking back now, the story grew and improved while they tried to outdo themselves with the arcade. Like with most sequels, adding so much trying to improve and better the pervious, only took away what make it special in the first place. I can remember reading about a fourth Timesplitters in production in PS3 magazines, ages ago but alas, it got shelved and will possibly never to see the light of day. Free radical the developers have now gone but they try again with a new IP, which I rushed to the shops to get on release. Haze, promised much and using the “from the creators of Timeplitters” what could have gone wrong? Well all of it, It was dreadful and just rubbish.
So my Timesplitters appears to have been concealed to time itself. As the HD remakes started to be a common thing, I held my breath for a Trilogy of Timesplitters, I knew they were popular enough in their time. And playing arcade, online instead of against AI would have been a great addition to a classic game, but still nothing and I’ve given up hope. With Giakia, Sonys new streaming service, HD remakes will now become null and void.
Timesplitters, was my most played game of that time and the PS2 by far. It opened me up to the FPS genre and I’ve never looked back. My friends refusing to play against me and my now wife, will never be forgotten. Killing monkeys as they bounce and destroy a frozen Dam, will never tire in my mind. People talk of game changers, games that influence all the games that come after it. okay, I’ve not played every FPS game around time of the PS2, but some of the things this game introduced to the gaming world and it gets no praise, from anywhere. It’s a solid, fun, enjoyable game and everything was customisable. Games talk today of customising, this and that, but they got nothing on the Timesplittter series. And across the three games holds some the best split-screen games and story, spanning the decades you could wish for. Why do I love Timesplitters? Because it’s COOL and AWESOME!