"Monkeys will be reappearing." That breaking news comes straight from the mouth of Free Radical's David Doak, who spotters may know better as the character Dr Doak from Nintendo 64 classic GoldenEye. Doak may not be making a cameo appearance in TimeSplitters: Future Perfect, but the return of gun-wielding chimps is just what the doctor ordered, and will be greeted with jubilation by fans of the series. Now in the hands of EA, and following the current trend away from the numbers, Future Perfect is of course the third instalment of the time-travelling First Person Shooter, and as such will be seeking to improve on 2002's mainly excellent TimeSplitters 2.
Considering that it still stands up as one of the finest console shooters ever, that's no mean task. According to Doak, "From TimeSplitters 2, the biggest criticism we had was that there wasn't much of a story there, so that's the big thing we've focused on. It's night and day compared to the story of the previous one."
That story continues from the end of the previous game, with hero Cortez searching for some crystals that will end the war, and eventually confronting the person who invented the titular TimeSplitters. This involves leaping between a variety of time zones between 1914 and 2401, enabling Free Radical to employ their signature concept of throwing in a war level, a horror level, a futuristic level, and so on. The levels will be even more varied than before and we're expecting a greater level of interaction and environment manipulation. One trailer shows a building being destroyed by mortar fire, so Second Sight-style physics could well appear.
And in a nod to films such as Bill and Ted and Back To The Future, you'll even be able to meet up with future and past versions of yourself. These encounters will involve passive acts such as handing over a key, or at the opposite extreme, defending your other self in a gunfight on board a runaway train. As for supporting characters, some old favourites will be back, including self-styled '60s playboy Harry Tipper.
Given the various settings, a wide range of weapons will be up for grabs, including some nifty anti-gravity affairs. Furthermore, each gun comes with a melee function, enabling you to smack enemies in the temple. Even the monkeys.
TimeSplitters: Future Perfect will be time travelling its way to the shops for PS2, Xbox and Gamecube in March 2005