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In Memory
Sean Pettibone


Time Crisis: Razing Storm (Playstation 3)

It's been going on for more than a decade, so players should pretty much know what to expect from Namco's enduring Time Crisis series by now. TC: Razing Storm, the latest installment on the PS3, doesn't diverge from the well-worn formula. In this edition, players take the role of a commando who's battling an infestation of alien creatures that have over-run an un-named city. Your mission is to shoot as many of the alien invaders as possible, while not taking on too much damage yourself. Gamers can choose from several modes of play. There's a standard arcade mode which acts as a normal game would, with the standard set of options and continues, and a more elaborate story mode where you can look around open-ended environments and complete objectives. Don't get too excited, since the story mode doesn't offer that much more variety than standard games, just allowing you to complete the same levels in slightly more open order.

The game can be played solo as a traditional arcade game or in co-op mode which can support up to four players at the same time. One of the more interesting about Razing Storm is that it allows players to use not one but three different controllers. Players can opt to use the standard dual-shock 3 and use the d-pad or analog sticks to control the target, with the shift button used to fire. More interestingly, the game allows players to use the Move controller as a virtual light-gun, which is a fairly interesting and successful device. It tracks the players movements nicely, though there is a bit of a learning curve to master its nuances. Additionally, the calibration process can be a pain in the neck to get the hang of, it took us several attempts to get this working right and there were some configurations that offered almost no give in terms of waving the device around, constraining movement to a narrow range. Finally, players who own the Guncon3 controller can use this as well, which makes for the most authentic, arcade-style experience (earlier CRT Guncon controllers aren't supported) This gives you plenty of options in how to play the game. Its nice to see Namco working to bring in different styles to the player.

No matter which mode you choose, Time Crisis: Razing Storm offers a similar set of objectives and gameplay mechanics. You begin with a basic weapon that has a large clip of bullets that can be used. The aliens come at you in all directions, and the game gives you a few seconds to find and locate them. As you hit them, they'll either fall down instantly or succumb after a few bullets. Your gun can only handle so many shots before it runs out, and you need to reload, which is a fairly simple and fast operation where you either point away from the screen, using the Move controller or hit the reload key on the standard joypad. The gameplay unfolds on a series of relatively short levels and most can be defeated in a couple of minutes. Most standard enemies attack in predictable patterns, and its easy to shoot them down individually. However, some of them take on the form of mini-bosses, where you have to shoot certain sections before they'll fall.

These are obviously more challenging foes to defeat, but the game does a fairly good job of keeping things moving along. Razing Storm features several levels of difficulty, and the main difference is the speed and number of enemies that attack. The on-rails approach means you'll spend most of the time anticipating the next attack. However, this does have the drawback of making the game more predictable than most modern titles and its simplistic, arcade-style play mechanics gives it a somewhat limited appeal. However, the game's visuals are fairly decent for the genre, though still a little bit clunky by the standards set in other games. It's nonsensical plot and storyline are hard to follow and poorly-acted, though most players will probably be best served concentrating on the action and ignoring the backgrounds. Razing Storm's character animations are fairly decent and there are some nice enemy designs. The soundtrack is a mostly forgettable mix of rock and techno, making the game a bit below average in this department.

Despite its short length, the main game is fairly enjoyable and offers the kind of relatively mindless shooting fun the series has become known for. In order to extend the package's replay value, Namco has also added a pair of classic arcade conversions to sweeten the deal. The first extra is a complete arcade version of Time Crisis 4, an excellent shooter that offers the perfect prelude to Razing Storm. While the game was released a few years back on the PS3, this version also supports the Move controller, which brings the gameplay up to speed with modern motion controls. It's held up well over the past few years and this inclusion is an excellent idea, especially if you haven't played it yet. The other conversion in this package is Deadstorm Pirates, a fairly fun arcade shooter that offers players the chance to knock off waves of undead pirates as they try and survive their assault on the high seas. The visuals aren't quite as smooth and polished as they are in the main game, but this is definitely one of the more challenging and entertaining light-gun shooters we've played.

Taken together as a whole, this is a fairly decent package of three quality shooters that delivers some fairly entertaining and challenging gameplay. The use of motion controls is a no-brainer that is nicely implemented. Players will definitely find a lot of replay value between these three games. While Razing Storm isn't the most innovative gameplay package on the market, for fans of arcade light-gun shooters it's worth the purchase.While the main game is a little on the short-side, the branching levels of difficulty add a lot of replay value. When you add in the additional pair of arcade conversions, this becomes a much better gaming value since all three games form a solid collection of light-gun shooters, and this value-priced package gives you plenty of shooting action in a single, effective package.

- Michael Palisano 

Grade: B-

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