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Sean Pettibone

Timesplitters Future Perfect (Xbox)

By Michael Palisano

The latest installment in the popular FPS series, Timesplitters Future Perfect for the Xbox features the fast, enjoyable FPS action players have come to expect, with a variety of new modes. The game allows you to travel throughout time, with weapons, characters and enemies for each era. Future Perfect also includes a deeper, more elaborate story mode, which extends its appeal beyond deathmatching. However, it also supports a variety of online modes, including 16 player deathmatch rounds, league play and more via Xbox Live. Read our review and find out how the game's straightforward action gives it an immediate appeal while the deeper story modes add depth to the gameplay.

EA and the developers at Free Radical Design have teamed up to bring Xbox players another solid installment in their long-running FPS series with Timesplitters: Future Perfect. While it doesn't veer too far from the familiar formula, this edition offers an extended story mode which helps to flesh out the main characters and involve players in a deeper plot. Each mission is set in a different time and part of the world, with an appropriate atmosphere and style. The story is relatively interesting for a FPS title and begins in the future where General Cortez and his band of soldiers are once again fighting the Timesplitters, an evil force that wants to eliminate mankind forever. Fortunately, Cortez has stolen a suitcase full of Time Crystals, which can reverse the war before it begins. Your mission is to journey through time, locate the Time Crystals and destroy them. Each era that you travel to features a unique set of enemies, weapons and secondary characters, which allows for plenty of variety. You'll find yourself traveling to an abandoned castle in the 1920's, Vietnam in the 60's and futuristic locales. These different eras offer a unique set of challenges. For example, you'll find old-fashioned pistols and machine gun when you travel to earlier time periods and more futuristic weapons in the later stages. The weapons at your disposal play a large part in how you attack foes. This is important because you face unique enemy types as you travel through time. These include with soldier, reanimated monster and futuristic shape shifters to name a few. In addition to these standard weapons, players can take over vehicles and control fixed location machine guns, which adds further to the versatile gameplay. Timesplitters: Future Perfect's level design is straightforward in structure and approach, with the usual FPS elements enhanced by the enjoyable storyline. As you beat levels and reach checkpoints, you'll also unlock characters and maps that can be played in other modes, which creates a great motivation to keep playing.

Timesplitters: Future Perfect offers a few twists set the game apart from the FPS pack. As you might have guessed, most of these cool features involve time travel. One interesting feature ate the wormholes and paradoxes throughout the game. When you find these, you'll encounter future or past versions of Cortez in the level, who usually helps you along the way. You can also use these wormholes to fix mistakes made earlier in the game or to jump into another part of the level. This seems gimmicky on paper, but it helps to give Timesplitters Future Perfect a unique personality that sets it apart from most games. The game's weapon selection is quite extensive with more than 40 available throughout including an array of guns, pistols, grenades and machine guns available. Players will also find other cool weapons such as flame-throwers, sniper rifles and more. There are certain areas where you need to place an explosive device to travel through doors that might otherwise be locked and seemingly impenetrable. Finally, Cortez also has a cool Time Grabber wrist attachment that he can to manipulate objects from afar, which is an interesting addition to the gameplay. The action itself is very fast, bordering on arcade-like speed, with players traveling through the levels quickly. Most of the maps are fairly straightforward and easy to understand, but players will sometimes have to go back and figure out puzzles to find their ways out of certain areas if they become stuck. Fortunately, most of these are very easy to solve and don't seriously detract from the otherwise intense shooting action. One cool aspect of the single player mission are the boss battles, which can be quite intense. While the story mode isn't as elaborate as other FPS games, its still enjoyable on its own terms, offering a challenging and enjoyable single player experience. You can also choose to play through the single player game with a friend using the Co-op split-screen mode, which adds to the excitement.

The developers have included several additional play modes that serve to supplement the story mode effectively. Players who want a quick action fix can jump right into the fray with the Arcade mode, where you face off against computer controlled bots in a variety of deathmatch modes on different maps. Players can change a number of parmaters before each match including number of kills, time limits and number of opponents. In this mode, you can select from more than 100 different characters in this mode in addition to Cortez, each with their own styles of play. There's a good selection of maps available ranging from close corridor combat to more open areas. As you play this mode, you'll find bonus items and power-ups that appear randomly on each stage. For players looking for a more extended Deathmatch challenge, Timesplitters offers a League mode, where you compete with other players in a series of matches, some of which may have conditions such as capturing an enemy base or achieving a certain number of kills. As players win league matches, they'll unlock additional classes. Finally, the game includes a Challenge mode, where you have to perform certain predefined tasks in certain areas of the game. These single player modes offer plenty of challenge, but the real fun lies in competing against others in Timesplitters' multiplayer online features.

As you'd expect from a modern console FPS, Timesplitters: Future Perfect features extensive support for Xbox Live, which lets players experience a number of different online modes. There are 11 online modes available in all with several standard modes including Deathmatches, co-operative team modes such as Capture the Flag plus more interesting multiplayer modes like Shrink, Vampire and Thief to name just a few. Most of these modes are self-explanatory, but the number of them means there's plenty of variety when you play online. The game supports up to 16 players in a single mode, where you can compete in online arcade modes, or form your own tournament leagues to compete through multiple matches. Timesplitters: Future Perfect plays smoothly in this mode with little lag or dropouts. The interface makes it easy to set up matches, find other players and keep track of your status during each tournament. In addition to these standard online modes, the game allows you to create your own levels using the intuitive map maker feature and then use and trade these with other players online. It's quite a cool feature that brings an excellent level of personalization to the game. Timesplitters' controls and interface are easy to understand, and will be instantly familiar to anyone who's played a FPS title on the Xbox. As you'd expect, players move the character using the left analog stick and fire using the Xbox shift buttons. Players can switch weapons quite easily and more advanced functions are mapped onto the face buttons intuitively. The controls make shooting and targeting fairly accurate, as is adjusting your viewpoint. Using the bombs is easy, you walk up to the door, place the explosive and move quickly out of the way. Players will find ammo and health upgrades automatically added to their character, in keeping with the game's straightforward approach. Your perspective switches at several points during each level when you take over a vehicle or fixed installation, but the controls remain quite easy to understand and use. It's not that complicated, and the game's responsive and streamlined controls allow you to focus on the gameplay, without messing around with an overly elaborate menu system.

While it's not as elaborate visually as some other FPS titles on the market, Timesplitters' speed and fast action more than compensates for this. While previous titles in the series have always seemed to look a little bland, this installment spices things up. The levels look sharp with large environments, elaborate level designs, and excellent details such as light sourcing that offer solid construction with excellent variety in design. Whether you're traveling through a swamps, an desolate Martian base or the swamps of Vietnam, the game's engine offers a consistently solid appearance throughout. The character designs are excellent, offering a good variety with decent animation and movement effects. There's a large number of weapons in the game as well, and they all look appropriate to their time period as well. Timesplitters: Future Perfect's real appeal isn't in its realistic environments, but in its speed and it delivers an incredibly fast paced adventure that unfolds at a smooth frame rate throughout with a smooth appearance that's consistent throughout with little in the way of frame-drop outs. The game's story is interesting with decent voice acting and cut-scenes creating a dramatic feel throughout. Overall, the game's smooth appearance is impressive, making Future Perfect the best-looking title in the Timesplitters series to date.

It isn't trying to reinvent the genre but, Timesplitters Future Perfect is a solidly entertaining title that should please FPS fans. The game's story mode is far more elaborate this time around, allowing players to follow the adventures of Cortez as he battles enemies through time. It's solidly entertaining and challenging, but the developers haven't forgotten that the series' real appeal lies in the online arena. They have included a number of excellent online modes with smart map designs that are tailor-made for internet play. Most players should have no trouble jumping right in thanks to the intuitive controls and easy to understand gameplay. This is a fun title that isn't pretentious or over-produced. The developers have instead focused on making a fun game and they have succeeded. The frenetic pace, straightforward approach and excellent level design makes TimeSplitters Future Perfect a trigger-happy blast to play and highly recommended for fans of first person shooters.

Grade: B+

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