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Time Crisis II (Arcade) artwork

Time Crisis II (Arcade) review


"They try to tell us in school that you can get a lot higher without drugs than with them. After my stint hanging out with the LSD-heads, sometimes stooping so low as to snort the gas from a Reddy Whip aerosol can, I can now confidently attest that what they told you in school actually was rooted in truth. Time Crisis II is my irrefutable proof. "



They try to tell us in school that you can get a lot higher without drugs than with them. After my stint hanging out with the LSD-heads, sometimes stooping so low as to snort the gas from a Reddy Whip aerosol can, I can now confidently attest that what they told you in school actually was rooted in truth. Time Crisis II is my irrefutable proof.

I hate to be sordid when it comes to video games, but there's really nothing else more appropriate that Namco's masterpiece of gratuitous warp-speed-paced violence could be compared to; it is like a shot of adrenaline directly to the heart every time I pop in my 50 cents. That's a percentage of a percentage of the street value of 10 ccs of the real stuff. Plus Time Crisis II is legal to use in mass quantities.

To recap for the uninitiated: The light-gun shooter Time Crisis ran up record business in arcades, on both sides of the Pacific, primarily due to its revolutionary Action Pedal. Pressing the pedal opened up the player (in that installment, Mute Badass Richard Miller) to open fire on enemies and, in turn, be fired upon. To avoid enemy bullets, the wise player would then release the pedal to hide and reload. This unique innovation coupled with blistering action and an ever-present countdown timer made Time Crisis one for the ages.

To improve on greatness is not a task one would tackle with the carefree ease Namco exhibits here, two years after their first international light-gun success. All the necessary departments are improved upon, there is the vital addition of a second player for co-op play, but the most important change is making the title an oxymoron.

To understand this you must first understand the entirely different path Time Crisis II forges for itself, and dares all lesser followers to take.

Your setup is a fine excuse to embark on several protracted firefights and brushes with death. Madman billionaire Ernesto Diaz, of Neodyne Industries (LTD), has taken the time to design a global satellite network that is in reality a tactical nuclear pre-emptive strike platform that can wipe out all life on Earth in the time it takes to microwave a burrito! Who else to foil his dastardly scheme but two rugged counter-terrorist operatives, helped slightly by an annoying secretary?

Good games are all about unfair odds and living on inhuman reflexes. Namco is certainly no chump when it comes to testing the mettle of even the most jaded gamer. The proof is in the pudding, as they say, but mainly in the first level. Just barely missing busting a Russian bowler-hat-sporting villain, as he twirls his moustache and hops out of his hotel room window, you spill out into the bustling plaza below to face a veritable army of balaclava-wearing Neodyne goons as they merrily destroy the environment in an attempt to perforate your cunning ass. Don't worry. On your side is the deadly duo of the Action Pedal and lethally accurate Guncon (to a single pixel, natch). They, along with your faithful comrade, will be your only companions through the perilous mission.

Co-op play is not even remotely close to a gimmick in Time Crisis II. The game experience itself is fundamentally different depending on which player you are. Oftentimes the two of you are called upon to split up or cover one anothers' butts in one of many tight situations. (before you ask, there is not a whiff of the nauseating innuendo which would tragically litter Time Crisis 3)

How tight, you may ask? How's this: After the two of you grab machine-guns and take out a fully equipped battle tank, you make your way to the marina, eliminate the heavily armed guardsmen there, then hop on a couple handy motorboats, now putting yourselves directly behind a boat toting, of all things, twin gatling guns, all the while avoiding Neodyne punks who are on their own motorboats and weaving between the two of you randomly. There are also flying aquatic ninjas to contend with, along with the cackling Cossack boss who is Annie Oakley with his pocket Uzi. That was just the first level. Does this sound like another Chiller, my friend?

As you may well gather, you spend a good deal of time shooting dudes. Neodyne soldiers are helpfully color-coded to reflect on their marksmanship, and such, the priority you must give them when facing down twenty of them at once. But -- and this is the most drastic improvement upon the Time Crisis formula to date -- the only way to rack up points is to be quick on the trigger finger and not miss. There is a Hit Counter in the upper part of the screen, which is the number of successive accurate shots you have made and a kind of field multiplier as well. If you miss once, or falter for the shortest time (I'd wager not even a second), the Hit Meter vanishes and you must start anew. But, in the end, it's teamwork that can lead to the swiftest and most assured victory.

...Unless you are playing solo, in which case your blood brother at your side is a borderline retarded NPC who cannot hit a comatose Rush Limbaugh with his deadly accurate Guncon. Moreover, he cannot exploit the brilliant level design by shooting down overhead cranes, hidden orange-suited enemies or explosive oil barrels for massive point bonuses. Simply stated, you are not getting the Full Monty unless you bring a friend along for the ride.

The title, Time Crisis II, is rendered oxymoronic because the emphasis has shifted to accuracy and keeping your own self intact, instead of fighting against the ill-placed countdown timer. In this installment, if you ever run out of time during a particular sequence, you might as well put the Guncon down, hang your head in shame, and leave the arcade immediately before anyone else finds out about your blunder.

It all comes together when the generic, but effective action movie music is thumping along madly, the crisp gunshots are reverberating in your head and the clickety-click of the Guncon's recoil is all that can be heard. When you have a platoon of mercenaries boring down on your position, with the occasional red octagon and blip-blip reminding you of an incoming projectile aimed precisely at your noggin, and you release the Action Pedal in just enough time but also physically duck or otherwise move your body to "avoid" it, there is all the concrete proof you need that a game can utterly consume a person in its reality.

A sign of excellence, at least in my book, is when you take advantage of any breaks in the game itself to actually rest due to actual game-induced fatigue. Sure, the Guncon is a lot heavier than your average light gun, and the recoil tends to put unneeded pressure on keeping the damn thing steady. But you sure as Hell feel accomplished when a stylishly rendered end-of-level freeze-frame, depicting the level boss' grisly demise, is before you. I have to holster the Guncon and wipe off excess palm sweat before going on.

But, I assure you, Time Crisis II is something I just have to keep revisiting. It's like I have a craving for the high it produces. So does my partner.

Sure, I could whine about how dated the graphics look (definitely PS One quality) or how humdrum the final level seems after all the innovation before it (quite a bit, down to the cliff-hanging climax), or even how henchman Wild Dog cannot survive the punishment given to him this time around (it's actually self-inflicted, curiously). I'll be fair and dock a point. One whole point. Given how very few games leave you with a lasting euphoria and a "coming down" period, this is an awful lot to consider.

What are you waiting for? Less than a dollar a hit! It shouldn't be legal, for crying out loud!

Rating: 9/10

johnny_cairo's avatar
Featured community review by johnny_cairo (June 11, 2005)

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