Time Crisis 4 (Arcade, PS3) (2006, 2007, 2010)
Review by Faididi and Co.
The fun way to meddle in American affairs
America's worst nightmare comes to life when one of its special ops groups turns rogue and hijacks secret weapons. The Vital Situation Swift Elimination organization (VSSE) sends a pair of really, really fabulous-looking agents, Giorgio and Evan, to assist the US military in stopping the American terrorists. No one cares anymore about the story by now, but it still keeps things dramatic, and the pro-wrestling scene with the second boss is too damn funny to forget.
Nex's Time Crisis 4 is mostly a rehash of the previous installment, delivering more cover-taking rail shooter action across 3 lengthy stages. Like Alan and Wesley from Namco's Time Crisis 3, Giorgio and Evan carry amazing pistols that can switch between standard handgun rounds and limited supplies of automatic rounds, shotgun rounds, and grenade shells. The level design is also as broken-up, but overall the scenery isn't as exotic as the quaint European settings of the past games. After wrecking half of San Francisco in the first stage, the heroes shoot it out with the bad guys across the ho-hum terrain of a generic national park and a nondescript military base in the remaining stages.
Besides the amusingly scripted battle against the second boss, the only new things worth noting here are the two alternate challenge modes that replace the cover-taking system at certain points of the game. The first is tied to the swarms of bug-like bioweapons unleashed by the enemy soldiers. Giorgio and Evan simply need to blast these monsters before the little bastards crawl onto their faces and gnaw on their eyeballs. The second challenge mode involves the destructible barricades. At these spots, our heroes can turn to face two or three different directions, trying to take down hatchet-wielding bad guys coming from multiple angles. This side-switching feature isn't quite like the one from Project Titan, because the enemies can eventually hack apart the barricades.
The two alternate challenge modes may be an honest attempt to spice things up for this sequel, but they don't have much to do with the cover-taking action at the heart of the series. Both are essentially basic time attacks where Giorgio and Evan never need to duck except to reload; success there merely means shooting all of the targets quickly enough (while failure costs them both a life). The barricade scenes are also clearly meant for two Players to tackle, because the computer-controlled partner during single-Player sessions is happy to sit on his ass, leaving all the work up to your character.
The perfect controls are virtually the same as those of Time Crisis 3. Changing sides during the barricade scenes is easily done by waving the lightgun to the left and right edges of the screen.
The characters and the environments are very nicely rendered, and the bug monsters pour over surfaces with the speed and numbers out of a sci-fi horror movie. The lighting effects in the cave scene are fantastic, too. But, what's up with the supermodel looks for Giorgio and Evan?
Audio: Above Average
This sequel has some of the least inspired music in the series to date. On the bright side, the vocal effects are massively ramped up, thanks to the ongoing dialogue between the mission control officer and the badass American commando who accompanies Giorgio and Evan throughout their mission.
Time Crisis 4 is probably too similar to Time Crisis 3 for its own good. Not improving the gameplay as much as one may hope, the alternate challenge modes feel more like simplistic time attacks than serious extensions of the cover-taking system. Still, the rest of this rail shooter is no less solid, and the 2-Player mode continues to be a thrill, especially with the greater explosions and vocal flair.
Port: Above Average (PS3) (2007)
The PS3 version of Time Crisis 4 packs in all the neat exclusive bonuses that make it a must-have deal for fans of the series. In addition to the splitscreen and system-link options, it offers various 2-Player minigames and another single-Player Crisis Mission, which is a set of training exercises that occur after the events of the story mode.
The main draw of this port, however, is the Complete Mission. It's an expanded single-Player variant of the story mode that alternates between the rail shooter scenes with Giorgio and the new FPS scenes with William, the commando friend of the VSSE agents. William indeed plays differently, being able to move about freely without worrying about time limits. He also feels like a tank, because of his regenerating life, not to mention the 1-up-like medkits abundantly strewn throughout the areas. The awesome part is that the GunCon 3 can still be used to shoot at any part of the screen while in the middle of turning, sidestepping, jumping, and crouching, thanks to the fully customizable controls. The FPS scenes would've been cooler yet if they had 2-Player support as well.
If there's any problem with this port, it's that the GunCon 3 takes a little longer to set up than the earlier GunCons back on the PS and PS2, due to technical issues with newer screen displays. (The GunCon and the GunCon 2 can't be used here.) Once the calibration is finished, though, the controls work just wonderfully.
Port: Average (PS3) (2010)
Nex and Namco's Big 3 Gun Shooting (the Time Crisis: Razing Storm package) is a compilation of Razing Storm, Time Crisis 4's arcade mode, and Deadstorm Pirates. This entire compilation is compatible with Sony's Move, as well as Namco's own GunCon 3.
The version of Time Crisis 4 here is best described as the arcade portion from the 2007 PS3 edition of Time Crisis 4. This means it's the same great-looking 2-Player arcade game (complete with the increasing lives and credits, plus the infinite ammo secret options). However, it lacks all the other material that makes the 2007 edition stand out, namely William's FPS scenes, the Crisis Mission, the extra 2-Player minigames, and even the system data installation option that improves the loading times. The only exclusive features found in this 2010 version are Move support, online rankings, and one of the easiest sets of PSN Trophies in history.
In other words, those who are interested in the complete Time Crisis 4 experience should stick with the full-fledged 2007 edition. Unless you're absolutely dying to play Giorgio and Evan's arcade scenes with the Move or just want to add a few more shiny Trophies to your PSN account, there's no reason to bother with this Time Crisis 4 arcade excerpt in Big 3 Gun Shooting.