Its time to move on to the future. You cant keep living in the past. After almost 5 months its finally time to pry your hands from your Xbox controller, take Halo 2 out, and give another first person shooter a spin. You could wait a few more weeks for Doom 3, but youd be missing out on a solid game in TimeSplitters: Future Perfect.
Future Perfect is the third installment of Free Radical Designs TimeSplitter series. The story mode picks up where TimeSplitters 2 left off, with you leaping through various time periods to save the world. In this chapter you are seeking out an evil madman who is using time travel to achieve his plan of world domination. The plot is nothing original, but the concept of time travel makes for a good video game. The environments change wildly from one time period to the next. Youll find yourself jumping from the 1920s to the 2240s and everywhere in between.
During each level you are thrown together with a sidekick that is a stereotypical character from that era. For example, while in 1969 you are teamed up with Harry Tipper, a swinging 1960s hippie with long sideburns and an Austin Powers like attitude. On the good side, they frequently aid you with fighting the enemy, and also inject some humor into the game. Your sidekick can not die, except for a few dreaded escort missions in which you have to protect them. Unfortunately, they dont always behave intelligently, and at times it reminded me of playing a co-op game with a really dumb friend.
The story mode is short it takes about 7 hours to complete - but it is a small part of the game. There are several play modes including a challenge mode, arcade mode, map maker, and multiplayer through Xbox Live. TS:FP makes good use of Xbox Live with a lot to do besides just the multiplayer aspect. You can also share your user created maps, compare your high scores in the challenge mode, and download replays of others to see how the best do it.
You dont need Xbox Live to have a good time with TS:FP. You can do just about everything offline that you can online. If youre all alone, but want to experience a multiplayer deathmatch, simply set up one in the arcade mode with computer controlled opponents. Other than not having a 12 year old trash talking to you, youll hardly notice the difference from the Xbox Live experience.
The controls are set up almost identical to Halos, making for an intuitive, easy to pick up and play game for veterans of that series. The aiming system has been substantially improved over the last installment, and is much smoother this time around. Youll also find a good variety of weapons throughout the game, including some futuristic weaponry, such as time altering grenades.
TS:FP is not perfect, and its not ready to join the elite group of first person shooters that include Halo, Doom, and Half-Life. Your path through the levels are very confined, and you do not have a lot of freedom or wide open spaces. You are given a few opportunities to hop into vehicles, such as a jeep and tank, but the vehicles leave a lot to be desired when compared to other games that do the same. There was a tad too much puzzle solving and key collecting for my taste. Other than the time travel element, TS:FP simply doesnt bring much new to the table to set itself apart from other games in the same genre.
Graphically speaking, TimeSplitters: Future Perfect is slightly behind the rest of the field. It has graphics that are crisp, and the varied environments keep things fresh, but there is simply nothing in the visuals that will impress you. There is virtually no texturing and most surfaces are flat in their appearance. There is also not much in the way of lighting effects. Quite simply, the graphics will not deter you from having a good time, but will not enhance the gaming experience.
The sound is largely unnoticeable, which is not necessarily a bad thing. The voice acting is solid. The sound effects such as gunfire and explosions are nothing of note one way or the other. I was about halfway through the game before I even realized there was background music playing...now that is good background music! Essentially the sound does exactly what its supposed to, and you rarely even think of that aspect of the game.
The bottom line is that TimeSplitters: Future Perfect is not in the class of elite first person shooters, but would easily be at the forefront of the second tier. The TimeSplitters series continues to make improvements with each new game in the series. The present installment is good, and with continued improvement the future may indeed be perfect.