If you haven’t already heard then I’ll quickly reiterate, Crytek UK (formerly Free Radical) are currently hard at work on a secret title that will get a spectacular reveal at this year’s E3 convention. The developers were previously working on their long awaited next generation sequel to TimeSplitters: Future Perfect before the company went bust a couple of years back. Shortly after, the brains behind the Cry Engine 3 and its spawns quickly snapped up the studio from the dark hole of unemployment before their talent was lost.
Free Radical then became Crytek UK and were responsible for designing the multiplayer in Crysis 2 – which was a total hit from day one. Now the studio is seemingly being given some freedom and independence, and are pouring their efforts into a currently unknown project for EA and Crytek. Thousands of fans worldwide are suddenly very excited, us included.
All we can do now is keep our eyes peeled for clues (which we are religiously doing) and wait for this big reveal at E3. There is a very good chance this dark horse will indeed turn out to be the long awaited TimeSplitters 4, some are bound to dismiss this but we have sneaking suspicions.
So let’s imagine and assume for a second that TS4 is definitely happening and will be purring away in our machines before the end of the year. Let’s think about what we would actually be expecting from this game. I’m talking dreams as well as realistic and appropriate gaming evolution. Writing this stuff down just fills my mind with fond memories of running away from a crowd of fire zombies whilst trying to fend them off with a baseball bat and the plasma auto rifle. Ah, good times.
This also serves as a vague and violent recipe for how to make a TimeSplitters game, well more like the ingredients we would expect in such a metaphorical dish.
Dual Wielding: It was one of the simplest standout features of the franchise, the crazy impossible juggling technique of dual wielding some of the most ridiculous weapons. Despite the fact that the last game actually reduced the number of pairs you could equip, I hope that the developers confidently steer away from the over saturated and slightly smelly realism and slap together a whacky and huge arsenal of guns of the x2 variety.
Whimsical Character Clichés: Big contributors to the charm of the games were the tongue in cheek stereotype heroes and villains that populated the cartoony and colourful universe. With veterans like Harry Tipper, Cortez, Duckman Drake (I think that was his name), and The Handyman being iconic and thoroughly hilarious TS4 wouldn’t be the same without their return. The sheer number of characters you could choose from was genuinely staggering and I’d expect no less from TS4. It’s an unusual kind of sensation being able to play a deathmatch with a floating goldfish bowl, a dinosaur, a butcher, a whore, and a ninja monkey.
Time Travel: Naturally the games narrative always centres around the paradoxes of time travel and the sinister motivations of the ‘Splitters’. I would be very excited to see what weird and wonderful new places they could take us and what sort of levels and settings we would be exploring. Crytek UK could really go anywhere with the environments but I think gamers are hungry for fresh ideas. Anyone remember the zeppelin? The frozen lake? Mexican mission? Or maybe you still treasure one of your own creations.
Iron Sights: TS4 will have to embrace the new standard of aiming functionality in FPS games, the whole issue of not having a proper crosshair though, not so much. Pin-point accuracy with rocket launchers can never be a bad thing. If they did this would they have to give the weapons proper reload animations or could they still get away with just dropping them below screen quickly? Would it even matter? Some of the more loyal fans might object, seriously.
Guns: Yes the presence of such metallic death bringers is a fundamental essential to FPS, mainly because of the ‘shooter’ part of that acronym. What I really want to highlight is the fact TS4 will be boasting (if all goes to plan) a massive range of guns, with amusing contrasts with bricks next to plasma grenades, modern day machine guns next to vintage sniper rifles, and flare guns next to a sci-fi shotgun. These beastly tools are the lifeblood of any FPS and TimeSplitters has something around the 40 mark already. Lots of noisy then. Do you miss that harpoon gun? The monkey gun?
Silly Game Modes: Yet another trademark of the series has been its love affair with the most ridiculous game modes and scenarios. Many would welcome the return of modes like ‘flame tag’, ‘virus’, and ‘vampire’. It’s worth noting that TS actually had its own zombie mode aptly named ‘behead the undead’ way before any CoD fungus existed, and it was brilliant.
Multiplayer: This is probably the biggest thing about the whole game’s history. As OPM note it was truly the king of multiplayer madness before the explosion of online play, with offerings of co-op story playthroughs and the most adrenaline fuelled arcade matches. Now that online has matured and basically taken flight into mainstream gaming, Free Radical have a big audience they can perform for and one hell of a playground. If and when they step up to the multiplayer online craze I genuinely think they would be competing with the very best in the industry.
Then add water, a team of genius British game developers, a pinch of salt, a whole bunch of free time, and stir. There you have it: the greatest franchise in the history of first person shooters revitalised and sizzling, sort of.