16th December 2010 - Time Crisis began as a rail shooter in the arcades back in 1995. It made the transition to the Playstation in 1997, and became relatively successful to a niche market. Having a gun peripheral was nothing new as Nintendo had been doing it for years, but these guns were decidedly cooler and the gameplay was great for two player co-op. Now the most recent release on the PS3 uses the Move controller and is a grab bag of three shooters, including the latest incarnation, as well as last year's Time Crisis 4. Three games in one - is this the bargain of the year, or just an easy way to get their products out to the market?
I'll spend most of this review covering Time Crisis: Razing Storm, since this is the main attraction. All of the modes available in this game also apply to the other two games - Time Crisis 4 and Deadstorm Pirates.
Anyone who has played this series (or any other “rail shooter”) before will know what to expect. The only exception is the single player story mode, which has a slight twist. In case you've never set foot in an arcade during the 1990s, rail shooters place a gun in your hand and move you along a set pathway, periodically stopping while you shoot all the enemies in a set area. Once the area is cleared, the game automatically progresses you to the next scene. And so it goes on. Although the enemies come from exactly the same places in each section with every play-through, the popularity of these games comes from chasing high scores, or playing with a friend in simultaneous co-op.
Razing Storm offers several modes which add variety to gameplay and extend the life of these traditionally short games. The first is story mode, which attempts to mix rail shooters and FPS's together. The Dualshock controller moves the player around the environment. The Move controller serves a double purpose of aiming on screen as well as (if you take the controller to the side) rotating the view. I personally found this combination awkward, and not intuitive or efficient. It's just too slow to turn and then get your aiming reticle back on the screen to take out enemies. Spotted around the map are green markers, which place you into cover if you approach and point up with the Move. From here, you can pop out and fire before covering again to reload. This is the classic component people will associate with rail shooters, and what the development team should have stuck with. These cover spots work well once you are in them but in the heat of battle trying to get into one and take cover is sometimes hit and miss. Not what you want when you are taking fire. The story is terrible as well, so it's not like there is anything extra that this mode offers over the standard arcade mode. Speaking of which - this is what most people will spend their time on as it offers two player co-op and no new surprises. That's part of the problem actually - there is nothing new or inventive here. If you have played or read the review on The Shoot then you will know there were at least some new elements that this game brought to the table and accuracy was cleverly rewarded. The arcade mode in Razing Storm uses automatic guns and there are so many enemies on screen that it turns into an almost random “hold the trigger and just sweep your gun from side to side” affair. The other modes are basically variations of the arcade mode but with different objectives.
Time Crisis 4 is very similar except the difficulty level is much higher. Even on the easiest setting playing solo I was taking an absolute hiding. It requires more accuracy than Razing Storm and familiarity with the sequence of enemies is a must to progress anywhere.
Deadstorm Pirates was probably the most rounded out of the three games, and despite having limited armament and being the cheesiest, was the one I enjoyed the most. But that is a matter of personal preference rather than any particularly strong gameplay elements.
The good news is that the Move controller is incorporated really well. After calibration it shoots accurately and I never experienced any issues during gameplay. It does get a little tiring after a while pointing your wrist, and I wonder whether the purchase of a gun attachment to slip the Move into would be worth the investment if you plan on playing a lot of shooting games.
For a PS3 game in 2010 the graphics are pretty lacklustre. It looks more like a good quality PS2 game, or at best a very early PS3 incarnation. The resolution, textures and level of detail on character models and environments is very basic. With FPS's looking so stunning these days, there really is no excuse for games to look like this now and it screams of wanting to pump something out to get some quick cash-flow rather than a commitment to producing a quality title. There were no problems with the frame rate dropping when lots was happening on screen though, which was one good thing.
I don't know what it is but all of these games have terrible voice acting in them. The scripts are super cheesy and the overacting is so painful it moves beyond laughable to just plain irritating. The gun and explosion effects are fairly mundane and the soundtrack exists but doesn't add anything to the experience.
Even though three games are included in this package, they are all very short. The longest mode will only take about an hour to clock, and although you will happily play through several times with friends, as a single player experience it will leave you unsatisfied for a full priced game. The online component is unlikely to add much to the game either.
Time Crisis: Razing Storm seems like a good offering on the surface - three games in the package (each with multiple modes), a single player story mode and online gameplay. Get into the heart of the game though and there is very little to offer players, other than the same old tired format, tired graphics and a terrible attempt to merge FPS's and rail shooter controls. The Move works well and there is some fun to be found with a friend by your side. However there is stronger stuff on the market now and the genre needs to lift its game.
AAG SCORE: 5/10
+ Move works accurately in arcade mode
+ Some fun with a friend trying to out shoot each other
- Controls in story mode are terrible
- Format and presentation looks tired
Reviewed and Written By Khye Davey