There was a huge single-player challenge component too. Mashing together all the characters and scenarios from elsewhere in the game, Arcade League provided a terrifying number (45, to be precise) of deliriously bonkers cheese-dream objectives based around TS2’s core multiplayer modes, all with multiple medal awards for improved scores and completion times, and all unlocking new, meaningful content across the board. No half-arsed production art here. This was stuff you actually wanted and could actually use.
Maybe you’d find yourself cast as an embattled Chinese chef struggling to put down his rampaging stock of calamari by way of a flamethrower. Or perhaps you’d be a mob boss, wandering around a hospital delirious after a hair-transplant, hallucinating an attack by giant ducks. Or maybe you’ll find yourself in a dinosaur-killing Turok parody, whose entire back-story justification is just one long set-up for a cerebral bore pun.
Oh yeah, and there was the officiall-monikered Challenge mode too. This one gave you another 21 objective-based minigames built around the main campaign’s core mechanics and weapons. There were stealth challenges. There were headshot challenges. There were “smash all the windows as fast as you can using only a brick” challenges. There were tower defence levels involving the Siberian dam and a barrage of exploding monkeys. There were shooting galleries. There were collect ‘em ups built entirely around the concept of a monkey’s lost banana hoard (another sly Rare reference? I’d guess definitely).
Seriously. TimeSplitters 2 was and still is utterly insane in terms of both the amount of content it provides and the sheer wealth of ideas and imagination it packs into that content. Forget every supposed shooter innovation since. Forget every custom game mode, or option, or bonus challenge, or crazy, emergent meta-game you have ever seen or heard of in an FPS. Forget everything you think is “a Halo thing”. Forget everything you thought was exclusively Battlefield’s forte. Forget how clever and fresh Gears of War 2’s Horde mode supposedly is. Forget this whole generation’s predilection with campaign co-op. Whatever you can think of, TimeSplitters 2 did it all. And it did it bigger, and it did it madder, and it did it in much greater volume. One one disc, with no additional DLC charges.
The more I think about how much TS2 did, the more I’m tempted to tell you to just forget every other shooter in existence and play TimeSplitters 2 for the rest of time. Because there’s so much going on in it that you very easily could. And I don’t even feel like I’m joking as I type this.
Crap, I thought I‘d finished with that last paragraph. I thought that was going to be the conclusion. But then I remembered the level editor as well. Yeah, you can build your own multiplayer and campaign levels in TimeSplitters 2. The editor never got the chance to shine that it deserved, due to last-generation’s comparative lack of online connectivity, but combined with the rest of the game’s way-ahead-of-its-time content, it would utterly ensure that TS2 would blow everything else out of the water if it got an HD, online-enabled re-release on current hardware.
You know what? Sod it. That’s last remembrance has just clinched it. Forget every other shooter in existence and just play TimeSplitters 2 for the rest of time. And if you happen to own, or have influence on those who own the publishing rights, let’s get it on current-gen consoles right now. If the last few pages have told you anything, it should be that TimeSplitters 2 was the game Xbox Live and the PSN were invented for.
Don't forget, if you want more of this sort of stuff, but want it in the form of a free-wheeling verbal ramble, we do an aurally listenable Appreciation Section every week in our TalkRadar UK podcast.
July 20, 2011
The classic game appreciation section: F.E.A.R.
It's not a crusty old Sega game this time! Yay!
The classic game appreciation section: Sega Rally
Officially awesome since 1995
The classic game appreciation section: Sonic the Hedgehog
Kicking off a new regular feature, on Sonic's 20th birthday