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Retro Corner: 'TimeSplitters 2'

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First released: PlayStation 2, GameCube, Xbox (2002)
Now available on: N/A

'Timesplitters 2 HD' screenshot
The first-person shooter genre is now dominated by gritty campaigns and online multiplayer, but ten years ago people were blasting away tiny monkeys and having a riot shooting their friends in split-screen. Free Radical Design's TimeSplitters 2 was an inspired game that put unadulterated fun first and foremost.

From many of the former Rare team who worked on Nintendo 64 classics GoldenEye and Perfect Dark (including Steve Ellis and David Doak), TimeSplitters 2 oozed style with its cartoon-like quirky visuals and its insanity.

The story saw protagonist Sgt Cortez fight his way through ten different eras in time. Starting with a wintry infiltration mission in Siberia, Cortez soon finds himself fending off zombies in a 19th century Notre Dame, shooting down UFOs in the far-flung future, hunting down a wanted man in the harsh Wild West and a whole lot more. The resulting campaign was an experience that remained fresh and exciting throughout.

'TimeSplitters 2' screenshot
The game had plenty more to offer, with an assortment of varied and bite-sized arcade scenarios and challenges - the latter including objectives such as smashing windows with bricks, punching zombies in the face and firing at flying monkeys. Hours upon hours could be spent trying to attain those elusive platinum medals.

It was highly impressive that there was no shortage of single-player content, especially since TimeSplitters 2 contained arguably the greatest split-screen multiplayer ever. Up to four players could duke it out against each other and several AI bots, and the fast-paced and hectic nature of the matches ensured that it was non-stop fun with three friends.

Aiming and various other quirks like the health indicator were very reminiscent of GoldenEye, but with TimeSplitters 2, Free Radical had more creative freedom and wasn't restrained by the James Bond licence. A range of weapons, maps and more than 120 characters were available to choose from, covering all of the time eras in the campaign and then some, which often led to outrageous moments.

'TimeSplitters 2' screenshot
It was totally possible to see an Elvis impersonator shoot a dinosaur down in NeoTokyo or robots and snowmen running around an Aztec jungle, armed with flamethrowers. That was part of its charm - it never took itself seriously.

Furthermore, the multiplayer also presented a satisfyingly healthy number of modes, from your traditional 'deathmatch' and 'capture the bag' to some inventive options such as 'virus' (where you must avoid touching the infected) and 'shrink' (where you become smaller and thus harder to hit if you're losing). The Nottingham-based developer undoubtedly went that extra mile to impress.

Free Radical went on to produce the sequel TimeSplitters: Future Perfect, which provided the same crazy fun as its predecessor. Unfortunately, they went into financial administration a few years later after their PlayStation 3 shooter Haze struggled both critically and commercially. They were then acquired by Crytek and became Crytek UK.

'TimeSplitters 2' screenshot
Since then, rumours have been circulating about a possible TimeSplitters 4, while Ellis recently revealed that a HD version of TimeSplitters 2 was previously in development back in 2008.

Hopes of playing the Anaconda Easter egg mini-game in high-definition are dashed for now, but instead, the Free Radical team is currently putting its FPS expertise to use on Crysis's multiplayer and the upcoming Homefront 2.

Do you have any fond memories of TimeSplitters 2? Post a comment below!

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