It is this game that eventually made me feel I had to buy a PS2 eventually. Despite there being better games on PS2, it was Time Crisis 2 that had the effect of selling the PS2 to me. Up until then, I had held a rather arrogant view of the PS2, feeling there weren’t enough good games for it to warrant purchase. Upon hearing that this game was en route for PS2, my perception of Sony’s black box changed. Time Crisis 2 has been my all time favourite arcade game since first playing it in summer 1998, and since I am also a huge fan of the two PS one Time Crisis games, I now found PS2 irresistible.
Time Crisis 2 is the year 2001 port of Namco’s classic 1998 arcade sequel to Time Crisis. Despite being a late port of the game, it is still as brilliant as it was when it first shot out in the arcades, and has been graphically improved and its lastability enhanced by the addition of some welcome mini games.
When the original Time Crisis was given life on the PS one back in 1997, it was complemented by the release of Namco’s excellent G-Con .45 light gun. This gun is compatible with Time Crisis 2, but Namco have released a G-Con 2, which is a just as accurate but slightly improved version of the original gun (it’s also only compatible with PS one as it uses USB). You can of course use the trusty Dual Shock pad if you wish or are just a cheap skate, but since it is a light gun game, using the gun naturally makes the game massively superior. The pad feels clunky and slow compared to the pace and smooth mobility offered by a gun. It is important to note this, as I have reviewed the game in light of playing it using the G-Con 2.
In a similar fashion to Time Crisis, you play in TC2 as an agent for the anti-terrorist group VSSE. However, Richard Miller is not present for this mission. In his place are Robert Baxter and Keith Martin. Now there are two agents, this offers a two-player game, which contrasts the solitary experience of the PS one versions. You must stop a lunatic billionaire from launching a nuclear satellite into space to ensure his plans for global domination are prevented.
As said before, the game can be played alone or with a comrade. Either way though, you will be accompanied by the other agent in the story mode, as in one-player mode, the second agent is computer controlled. Together you have to blast your way through hordes of terrorist thugs that are trying to thwart your two-man army offensive. Usually your fellow agent will be just next to you, but very often he’ll detach from you to either deal with another group of soldiers while you deal with others or to get a shot at the bad guys you’re both dealing with from another angle. Although this is all pre-determined, it does, unlike many other light gun games, convey a better sense of teamwork and that the agents are actually pretty smart as opposed to just some dumbass terminator types.
Level design and execution is a strong point of the game. There are some interactive backgrounds, such as explosive barrels, petrol trucks, and so forth, which although relatively few in number are impressive when they blow up. There are some great environments and play arenas, such as a gunfight aboard a fast moving train and a high speed chase of a boss on speedboats, which are dazzling to play. There are also some good battles with armoured vehicles and choppers to, make sure you don’t just have to take down gunmen all the time, and as with its predecessors, Time Crisis 2 has several boss battles that are absolutely thrilling and adrenaline pumping. The dodge and reload mechanic pioneered in the original has been improved now so that it is slightly more responsive, rapid and fluid, and again this allows the game to elevate itself above the competition as the ability to hide behind objects does make it feel more like a proper battle. To put it short, Namco have delivered the goods brilliantly.
As the game is an arcade port, it is quite short. The game is made up of the arcade game (story mode and one mission select mode), and the all-new mini games, ‘Agent Trainer’, ‘Crisis mission’, ‘Shoot Away 2’, and ‘Quick and Crash’. Agent Trainer is a basic target practise mode similar to those seen in the Virtua Cop games. The Crisis missions are small missions that use environments taken from the story game that are unlocked upon completion of the story mode. Shoot away 2 is a simplistic old skool clay pigeon game, and Quick and Crash is four other little games. They are all good fun and are quality additions. They are of course not a patch on the ace story mode, but are still top quality when considered they are just add-ons.
The story mode has a similar structure to Time Crisis, in that it is split into three stages consisting of three areas each. The difficulty of the game can be altered by changing it at the option menu, but after some practise it should not take a competent shooter too long to finish the mode at any difficulty level. It took me about 20 minutes to get through it the first time on normal mode, but this is probably partly due to the fact I had already mastered the arcade game and could finish the game with one credit prior to acquiring the PS2 game, and believe me, it took me a lot of pound coins to get that good. Therefore, novices will find it harder initially, but it should not prevent them from finishing the game within several hours. Unlike most light gun games though, it is extremely replayable. It’s very addictive, and you will probably find yourself revisiting the game a lot. This is partly why it’s my favourite arcade game, as I usually get bored of most of them quickly, but not this baby.
Praise should go to the two-player mode too. Thrifty players can play the game co-operatively via a split screen mode, which actually works not too badly. For the best two-player experience though, the I-Link can be used so that each player can use a separate TV to play on, just like the arcade game. Of course, you need two TVs, two PS2s and two copies of the game, but it’s worth it if you can get it together.
Graphically, the game can’t hide that it is a port of a 1998 arcade game, but Namco have improved the aesthetics somewhat though, and it does not look bad really at all. Although the game has a too simplistic use of textures, and the bad guys are based on dated models, Namco have enhanced the lighting effects, and have to some extent increased texture use and the polygon count.
Also, the game is graphically proficient in that the engine can throw loads of terrorists at you without slowdown, and it is also good that when, say a bad guy is shot in the arm or leg, they will actually grab that limb, something which some previous light gun games have been hopeless at implementing. It’s nothing the PS2 cannot easily handle, but Time Crisis 2 cannot be deemed a poor looking game. It is not remarkable, but it is visually competent, and the few graphical flaws evident do not spoil the first-rate gameplay.
Sound effects are well used in the game. The gunshot sounds are great; particularly your guns (especially when you have an Uzi), and the sounds of men dying, objects being smashed and explosions are all of fine quality. The soundtrack is a remix of the arcade game, and although it’s not a masterpiece, it’s perfectly suited to the all out action nature of the game.
In conclusion, this game, in my opinion, is not only the best arcade game ever, but the best arcade to console port ever. It’s a brilliant piece of software, and is certainly the greatest light gun game out there (at least until Time Crisis 3), easily shaming Sega’s efforts. It’s a fast, frantic, and addictive roller coaster ride of a shooter, and is definitely worth buying. But make sure you have a light gun; otherwise, the fun gets spoiled.
Price: £5-10 second-hand.
Score: 5 out of 5.