Time Crisis: Project Titan (PS) (2001)
Developer: Flying Tiger
Review by Faididi and Co.
It's Miller time, all the time
Richard Miller, the fearless agent of the Vital Situation Swift Elimination organization (VSSE), is in trouble. Someone has framed him for the assassination of a Caribbean island nation's president, and now he needs to clear his own name by mass-murdering the real bad guys. The story starts off being interesting, but it soon turns into a mess, leaving too many loose ends and failing to clarify why Richard even needs to be framed in the first place.
Flying Tiger's Time Crisis: Project Titan is a PS-exclusive installment in the rail shooter series, and it plays a lot like Namco's original Time Crisis. Richard can take cover at any moment to reload and to avoid enemy fire, and he still uses his old gun, which comes with six rounds per magazine.
The only major difference worth noting here is Richard's ability to manually switch between two hiding spots during boss scenes. Doing so is necessary, because the bosses can sometimes be hit only from certain angles. Unfortunately, this variable cover system is absent from the rest of the game, and the boss scenes are already brief enough.
The limited opportunities to manually switch hiding spots are made all the more noticeable by the significantly lengthened but mediocre level design. The stages are set across a wide variety of locations, taking Richard from a luxury yacht to a small airport to old mines and ancient ruins. Despite the frequent changes in scenery, however, the stages feel like a generic bunch of corridors, with fewer instances of non-static terrain, moving vehicles, and other unusual hazards. The regular enemies aren't much different from before, although finding the newly-added 1-ups by shooting their hiding spots makes a fitting challenge for the longer stages.
If you're looking for more bonus content, you're out of luck. Project Titan lets you play through the game again with a slight change of rules (such as having to shoot enemies of the same uniform color in succession), but there are no extra modes that come with their own stories and areas.
Needless to say, the controls are perfectly fine. When taking cover, changing hiding spots is easily done by pulling the trigger while pointing the GunCon at the large arrows near the left and right edges of the screen.
The cute informant whom Richard rescues is about the only bright spot in the graphics, because Project Titan disappoints visually. Many of the character movements are roughly animated, and the general quality of presentation takes a nosedive. The bad guys snap downward unnaturally quickly when they get shot, and some of them even move about in magical ways. For example, the final villain effectively teleports between narrow pillars scattered across a wide, open surface, while the twin cybernetic bosses literally emerge from thin air whenever they attack. A few of the cutscenes, such as the one where Richard dodges a barrage of machinegun fire, have off-centered or otherwise awkward camera work. The explosions appear too soft and underwhelming, and the stylish still images that have been displayed at the end of every stage are no more.
Things don't fare much better in terms of audio. The explosions sound as muted as they look, and the music is unmemorable when the tunes aren't remixes of the original game's themes. The regular enemies have those overused death groans taken from the Tallarico effects kit. (Richard remains a silent hero, thankfully.)
Time Crisis: Project Titan is like a student's crude imitation of a true master's work. Its level design doesn't feel bigger as much as it feels being overly drawn-out and diluted. The character animations are sloppier, and the lazy work on the enemy death groans doesn't help, either. If you can't get enough of the rail shooter series' cover-taking action, then perhaps Project Titan will satisfy you. Otherwise, stick with the original Time Crisis and Time Crisis 2, both of which remain far superior games.