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Bring It Back: TimeSplitters

This edition of Bring It Back is a little different, as the series in question actually does seem likely to return some time in the future. Still, it hasn't actually happened yet, and there's no reason not to remind people of what makes TimeSplitters fun and unique from other shooters. Free Radical Design (now known simply as Crytek UK) haven't done a whole lot since their last TimeSplitters game, and a return to what got them started might lead them to something inspired. They did work on the multiplayer in Crysis 2, so they've shown they can make a competent online gaming experience. But while that series has done a nice job of blending in with the Call of Duty school of super quick and precise shooters, what's fun about TimeSplitters is that it does its own thing. I'd love to see them bring it to the current generation, sooner rather than later.


Free Radical was originally formed by guys who worked on Goldeneye (a game that I'm honestly NOT extremely excited to see coming back again), so they have a rich history of entertaining multiplayer modes, and the current shooter landscape could really use a shot in the arm as far as a successful online experience that isn't driven by head shots, leveling up, and acquiring perks. Not that the game has to completely avoid those systems, just that it doesn't need them to provide a compelling experience. The fun of TimeSplitters' multiplayer was always the variety of options, letting you pick from a variety of maps with a bunch of different looks, fully customize the selection of weapons available, and letting you make all kinds of tweaks to the settings, from victory conditions to gameplay tweaks and everything in between. The variety of modes was always great - plenty of shooters today have a bunch of game types, but they still mostly revolve around shooting your opponents in the head. TimeSplitters had completely fluid team options allowing for more than a simple choice between every man for himself or two evenly matched squads, and there were modes that completely took the focus away from shooting. A favorite was always the virus mode, which turned the game into something like a zombie movie, where you had to avoid the player who was "it", and it was a game of last man standing as things got increasingly desperate towards the end.

I might be just romanticizing an old game series here, but a way they could easily bring the franchise into the modern day is by exploiting one of this generation's more common attempts at standing out - user generated content. With the ease of sharing things between players over the internet and the built-in flexibility of the series. Heck, TimeSplitters 2 already had a map editor. Modernize those tools, and with the right opportunity to build a following, a current generation TimeSplitters could have one of the most creative and actually entertaining content-generating user communities in the world. You don't even have to sell DLC, just let the fans keep the game going for you. Of course, you can sell DLC anyway, because I know publishers like that.

Even without the multiplayer though, I think TimeSplitters is an intriguing enough concept to deserve revival. The series' story was never really terribly complex, but it works - you play a couple of agents from the future who chase down evil aliens that travel through time, through all sorts of bizarre scenarios based in fact or fiction, exploring everything from the wild west to a distant planet to Victorian England. The design itself was a bit simplistic, but it could easily flourish with the right talent working on it into an eclectic and memorable campaign. The look totally works, too. Nowadays it isn't exactly completely original to have an exaggerated visual style clashing with your violent shooting gameplay, but it's not a look that's been run into the ground either. There's a fun Saturday morning cartoon vibe to the series, a vibe that can still work now with the right treatment. With the right tongue-in-cheek mood, a modern TimeSplitters could be a blast. Here's hoping the rumored sequel that's been a long time coming can live up to that.


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