"There's a new kid in town who's come to bring joy to slavering title-starved owners of the Gun-Con 45 for the Playstation. If you'd resorted to pointing the light-gun at your sister and making 'PEOO! PEOO!' noises for the past few months trying to stave off withdrawal systems, well it's time to stop, because Time Crisis: Project Titan has entered the building. What's more, this game is a Playstation exclusive, which somehow makes it a whole lot more fun and places a big silly grin on your..."
There's a new kid in town who's come to bring joy to slavering title-starved owners of the Gun-Con 45 for the Playstation. If you'd resorted to pointing the light-gun at your sister and making 'PEOO! PEOO!' noises for the past few months trying to stave off withdrawal systems, well it's time to stop, because Time Crisis: Project Titan has entered the building. What's more, this game is a Playstation exclusive, which somehow makes it a whole lot more fun and places a big silly grin on your Playstation-owning face.
Namco's masterful Time Crisis franchise has always been highly regarded by players for both its innovative dodge pedal system and its emphasis on speed and deadlines. Time Crisis: Project Titan (or TCPT as I'm now going to call it) is more of the same with a few very cool refinements. For me it's been fantastically fun and I'm still a total addict after several weeks. But then again I've never had a Time Crisis game at home before, and I also really must stress the 'more of the same' part:
We've still got blue-uniformed klutzes who will shoot at you a hundred times and hit about as often as a Star Wars stormtrooper I.E. Never.
We've still got orange-uniformed skill merchants who appear only very briefly but reward you with extra time when shot.
And we've still got dastardly red-uniformed marksmen who will make you tear your hair out as they drop one accurate shot into your body after another.
You get the picture...
Time Crisis Trivia!
Complete the following sentence:
'Time is running out for the one-man army, Richard (WHO?)'
A. Richard Grieco?
B. Richard Marx?
C. Richard Gere?
D. Richard Miller?
The answer is -- D. Yes, the correct answer is 'Richard Miller'.
Richard's latest adventure is a nice table-turner for this series. He's been framed for the assassination of the President of a country known as Caruba (I love thinly-veiled stand-ins for Cuba), and now he's got just 48 hours to find the real assassin and clear his name before the good guys disavow all knowledge. Miller must shoot about 6000 people in a trail that begins on a yacht in the Caruban sea owned by smuggler babe Kantaris, and takes him via Caruba's airport down into a nasty Caruban mine and beyond.
The enemy action is the best I've seen in a Time Crisis game, with an interplay of enemies through a sea of movement and patterns which are hypnotic: The bad guys roll in and out of view, dive for cover, pop up and down, crawl about, leap from helicopters, signal their buddies, hide behind doorways... Graphically their human motions are a tremendous feat, and repeated shots will send their corpses bouncing over the furniture and tumbling through glass windows. The heady feeling of ducking behind cover and watching the whole world snap out of view as you reload your six shots is also as good as ever.
Here's the big new innovation in the gameplay, and it's a real goodie: In the boss fights you can now move from hiding place to hiding place at will by shooting arrows at the side of the screen. This may be as simple a set-up as moving between two crates which flank a gangway when fighting a machine-gunning psycho named Zeus Bertrand, or as clever as being able to move from hedge to hedge in a complete circle all the way around a fountain on the grounds of a mansion, flanking bad guy Ricardo Montalban - uh, I mean Ricardo Blanco, and his henchmen within the circle. This adds a whole new element to the boss fights as well as just being really fun. At last you can play true hide-and-seek with some enemies, or at least try to cripple 'the one-man army' with a dizzy spell.
Alas, there are no multiple hiding spots when you're fighting the killer chef with the crazy French accent, but I simply wanted to point out that in this game you DO get to fight a killer chef with a crazy French accent. He throws meat cleavers at your head which you can shoot down for extra time if you feel so inclined, or just duck beneath.
Another more subtle addition I noticed is some wicked AI on certain bad guys who have taken cover. If you aim the light-gun right at the place they're about to pop out, they might flinch but will immediately retreat to safety when they sense that you've got your weapon trained exclusively on them. Point the gun elsewhere and AHA! They emerge to pop you. A very scary little feature which can jangle your nerves and keep you trapped in crossfire for dangerous amounts of time.
The scenery throughout TCPT looks a treat, and there's tremendous atmosphere in gunfighting through such scenarios as a luxury yacht of varnished wood, or around escalators or across baggage carousels in an airport. Scenic interaction is disappointing though - there's not enough glass to smash, not enough stuff I can knock over or shoot out. There are hardly any environmental hazards either, as cool as it is ducking below winches or the tail of a helicopter at times. Having plants rustle when I blast them, though a nice touch, is not the spectacular action movie stack-fest that I'm expecting from a Time Crisis game.
What's also weird is that the graphics, which are startlingly attractive in gameplay, are not even up to average standard for the Playstation in the cut-scenes. Bland ugly textures, characters devolving into incredibly jagged polygons... I don't normally harp too much on bad graphics and even I noticed this stuff. Lucky it's only the cut-scenes, but this kind of thing made my first impressions of the game a little underwhelming. That and the vocal effects. There's a way too-low variety of phrases the bad guys will yell out as they try to put you down. 'Get 'im!' - 'There he is!' - that's about it. Fortunately the magnificent level design of the game itself overcomes all of that. The rest of the sonics are also terrific. Tense 'James Bond movie action scene' music matches every sequence, gunshots are crisp and even change timbre depending on the environment and what you shoot at, and the rest of the groans, yells and footsteps are all perfect.
Typical Time Crisis game modes are on hand. There's a story mode in which you have credits and lives, and individual time attack modes for each level. You can play the story on easy or normal difficulty levels initially and there's a significant difference between them in number of lives and credits supplied, so I'm glad they offer you a way to warm up. I'm no light-gun virtuoso but this is one of the hardest shooters I've played, with a steady rise in difficulty until you've got waves of numerous foes who are just pinpricks in the distance, all nailing you at once with grenades and super-accurate shots. It's also a testament to the accuracy of the G-Con 45 and the technology of this game that such exacting designs are even possible. I've taken to doing full physical warm-ups before sessions with TCPT, otherwise my arms and possibly my buckled legs are just a quivering wreck by the time I play through to the hard final stages where I really need the accuracy!
Control-wise, you can toggle the button arrangements on your G-Con, and though it's not loudly announced in the manual you can also use a button on a regular Playstation controller plugged into the 2nd port to hide/ reload. This can be useful if you're keen to go in for some one-armed shooting, or if you're fanatical enough about your Time Crises that you wish to build a pedal mechanism to attach to the other controller... Note that Namco steadfastly advise against this.
I can't help but feel that the game might have been a little rushed to the market in some departments. Things like the less than stellar-looking cut-scenes, the fact that a character has turned from blond to brunette between the manual and the game itself, the fact that the manual has a disclaimer warning of discrepancies, and the absence of an auto-save feature for high scores (you must nominate when to save to your memory card). But it seems that such failings are confined to the less important areas, and for me they are largely weighed out in the face of the gameplay.
-- Incredibly rigorous gameplay and stiff challenge
-- Superb level design
-- In-game graphic action is amazing
-- Cool 'big-budget' music
-- New boss hiding system can make you dizzy
-- Subtle AI additions are quite tricky
-- Could have used more innovation
-- Could have used more environmental interaction
-- Lame-looking cut-scenes (not lame-sounding though)
-- 'Get him!' - 'He's over there!'
For Time Crisis Fans and light-gun owners:
-- I'm sure you'll love this game as much as ever, and enjoy the increased challenge and the new hiding system.
For those without a light-gun, but who've always been curious! (which is possibly why you're reading this review)
-- I certainly think that NOW is a fantastic time to get into it. Buy the edition of the game bundled with the G-Con 45. You won't be disappointed with the supreme fun on offer here, and what with the Playstation being such a warhorse now, you'll probably be able to collect the back catalogue of light-gun games in future at low to moderate cost, if you're converted to the experience by TCPT.
Yes, this game is a win-win as far as I'm concerned. Namco didn't pull off very much new stuff, but thanks to ultratight gameplay with the basics you can't fail to be galvanised by Time Crisis: Project Titan
-- Time Crisis: Project Titan -- 8/10 --
P.S. What I would steadfastly advise against is anyone buying this game to play entirely with the regular Playstation controller. Though it's possible, you completely defeat the purpose and it's also an obnoxiously difficult control method.
Community review by bloomer (March 08, 2004)
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