Time Crisis 3 (Arcade, PS2) (2003)
Review by Faididi and Co.
We'd like to get one of those super handguns, too
The work of the Vital Situation Swift Elimination organization (VSSE) is never done. This time, agents Alan and Wesley are sent to a Mediterranean island country to stop the nefarious General Zott from turning innocent folks into butt sauce. By this point in the series, the story is merely another excuse to send more trigger-happy VSSE agents out to kick ass, but nobody is complaining.
Namco's Time Crisis 3 is actually the fourth installment in the cover-taking rail shooter series, following Flying Tiger's Project Titan. Like that preceding game, unfortunately, this sequel doesn't introduce anything drastically new.
The only change worth noting is the heroes' ability to switch ammunition types whenever they're ducking behind cover. Apparently, Alan and Wesley pack these super handguns that can fire standard pistol rounds, submachinegun rounds (which somehow make their weapons fully automatic), shotgun shells, and even grenade shells. While the default pistol rounds are infinite, the other types are limited. The heroes can obtain more special ammo by shooting a certain kind of enemy, although the game never explains why that is the case.
Aside from the multiple shot types, Time Crisis 3 plays virtually the same as Time Crisis 2, from the seamless 2-Player support to the heroes' slightly varying but overlapping paths. That in itself wouldn't be an issue if the level and enemy designs aren't so bland by comparison. Sure, the 3 stages in this sequel may be lengthier, but scenes like the European resort town and the train ride are retreads of past material, and there are fewer mobile action points, too. One may remember the river scene in Time Crisis 2, where Keith and Robert wildly criss-cross the water in a hectic boat chase, and then contrast that with the jeep ride scene here, where Alan and Wesley sit on their butts in a single vehicle that merely drives down a straight road.
The controls continue to be perfect. Switching ammo types is easily done by pulling the trigger while hiding behind cover.
The visuals are better than ever, even if Alan and Wesley look like they've stepped out from a cheesy teen drama anime show. A plethora of tiny details like waves splashing against rocks at the beach scene or flying sheets of paper at the burning library scene go all the distance to bring the game's world to life.
The loud and crisp sound effects also don't disappoint, and the regular enemies sound noticeably more aggressive, too. Where Time Crisis 3 truly distinguishes itself, however, is its music. The tunes are surprisingly more sophisticated and moving, making them a delightful backdrop for the game's intense action.
Overall: Above Average
Time Crisis 3 can be faulted for being a typical sort of sequel, upgrading things like graphics but hardly innovating in gameplay. Being able to change ammo types doesn't quite make up for the relatively lackluster level and enemy designs. However, there's still much to enjoy in this rail shooter, from the solid 2-Player action to the awesome music.
Port: Above Average (PS2)
The PS2 version of Time Crisis 3 is a decent piece of work. Its visuals are completely faithful to those of its arcade counterpart, and slowdown is nonexistent even in the splitscreen mode. (There's also the system-link option.) Just like the PS2 version of Time Crisis 2, it features a single-Player Crisis Mission, which is a set of training exercises that occur after the events of the story mode.
However, gone are all the 2-Player minigames and the dual-wield option. Taking their place instead is the Rescue Mission. Despite what its name suggests, the Rescue Mission is merely the story mode from the perspective of Alicia, the rebel sniper whom Alan and Wesley befriend, and it plays almost like the same. The only differences are that Alicia's special ammo types need to be used repeatedly to make them reach full strength (i.e. she needs to "level up" her special weapons, for some weird-ass reason) and that her stages include a few sniping scenes.
The sniping scenes are arguably the best part of this port, combining the sniping action of Konami's Silent Scope with the cover-taking action of Time Crisis (all the while including GunCon and GunCon 2 support). Unfortunately, these scenes are too few to make the Rescue Mode feel much more than a single-Player-only remix of the story mode. This port would've been better if it had attempted something bolder with Alicia's part in the game, perhaps by making the Rescue Mission entirely about sniping.