Time Crisis 2 (Arcade, PS2) (1997, 2001)
Review by Faididi and Co.
Twice the guns, twice the fun
General Diaz, a dictator-wannabe with an army of loyal terrorists, plans to take over the world by unleashing satellites equipped with super deathrays. That won't do, so the Vital Situation Swift Elimination organization (VSSE) sends two agents, Keith and Robert, to take him down and to rescue a fellow agent who's been kidnapped. This story may not be as serious and intense as that of the previous installment, but its over-the-top villains and cutscenes can be amusing to watch.
Namco's Time Crisis 2 ups the bar again in the rail shooter genre. It couples the first game's awesome cover-taking system with a 2-Player mode, via linking two machines. This isn't like those other rail shooters where both heroes share the same screen and route; Keith and Robert actually travel on different yet overlapping paths. Like Richard in the original Time Crisis, Keith and Robert can hide behind cover at any moment to reload and to avoid enemy fire, but their ability to cover each other and to attack the same enemies from multiple angles allows for even more impressive firefights.
The more loosely scripted story lets the level design work with a wider variety of locations, including the streets of a quiet little European town, a train ride through mountain forests, and finally the offshore launch site for the enemy satellites. Being able to tackle the 3 stages with a friend is cool enough, but making things better yet is the addition of mobile action points. Instead of staying in one place while engaging enemies, the characters can sometimes keep walking whenever they lean out from cover or find themselves on moving vehicles. The river scene's boat chase and the mountain scene's gunfight across two trains especially come to mind as examples of Time Crisis 2's stunning level design.
If there's any criticism to make, it's that the enemy design hasn't improved as much. The regular enemies remain virtually the same, except that any projectiles that'll hit the heroes are marked with a red color, giving the heroes a split-second of warning, if also detracting from the brutal realism of before. The double bosses in the third stage are a fitting match for the new pair of heroes, but the absurdly cartoonish boss at the train scene disrupts the game's immersive feel when he starts swinging a massive rocket and sucks up dozens of bullets to the head without flinching.
The controls are identical to the first game's, which means they're perfect. If you're playing alone, the second Player can join in seamlessly at any time, maintaining Time Crisis 2's tight pacing.
The colorful and vibrant visuals certainly don't disappoint. The game is packed with small details, from birds flying across the skies to plumes of spray being kicked up from water.
Audio: Above Average
The audio effects remain strong. The gunfire is loud, and you can tell what Keith and Robert's stray shots have struck when you hear them slam into objects of different materials. The voice acting comes off sounding more generic, although the dialogue isn't corny enough to make you puke, and the bad guys continue to groan out very painfully. The music adds a more stylistic flair to the old dramatic tones, but the weird part is that the main theme copies a part of the score from the film, The Rock.
Time Crisis 2 brings out more fantastic cover-taking action, and this time it adds on simultaneous 2-Player support. Those who love the original Time Crisis and want a rail shooter that can be played together with a friend have their wish answered by this glorious sequel.
Port: Excellent (PS2)
While the PS2 version of Time Crisis 2 has finally emerged four long years after the arcade version, it's definitely worth playing, due to its cornucopia of upgrades and exclusive bonuses.
First, there's the complete overhaul of the visuals. All the characters now have fully articulated faces, and they produce shadows that fall realistically around corners and over uneven surfaces. Table cloths at the outdoor cafe flap gently as a light wind breezes past them. Water at the river reflects sunlight onto the undersides of bridges. The down-wash from a low-flying helicopter creates a refraction effect in the dusty air below its blades. In short, everything looks gorgeous.
Next, the story mode features several hidden options. Keith and Robert's default shots can be swapped out with permanent automatic fire or cluster rounds, and you even have the option to dual-wield two guns with one hero.
Then, there's the suite of new gameplay modes. The biggest among these is the single-Player Crisis Mission, which details Keith's training exercises that occur after the events of the story mode. It may not be as original as the amazing bonus mission in the PS version of the first Time Crisis, but it offers some serious challenge and comes with its own plot twist. If you're looking for more 2-Player fun, you can turn instead to the minigames, which include classic target practice sessions, a quick-draw game, and a clay pigeon game.
Finally, this port goes out of its way to be as convenient to play at home as possible. If you're wondering whether you need another PS2 and a second copy of the game to enjoy the 2-Player mode, there's no need to worry. A system-link option exists, but you can also use the splitscreen mode on a single console. The framerate here remains smooth, slowdown is still nonexistent, and the crisply-drawn visuals keep the characters and the scenery easy to see. The red-colored enemy projectiles are made far more conspicuous in this port, too, so dodging fatal shots isn't any more difficult. As for the lightguns, this port supports both the original GunCon and the newer GunCon 2.