Apologies for being slow to bring out a new post, I’ve had work and stuffs but here I am and here we go: lightgun games. I’ve always enjoyed the lightgun genre – be that at my local arcade with the House of the Dead games and Time Crisis series, or on the Wii with (more) House of the Dead and Ghost Squad. But the PS2’s G-Con 2 and its PS1 predecessor, the G-Con 45, have seriously rekindled my passion for this genre. Arcades are all too rare and the Wiimote, lovely as it is, is not as satisfying to handle as the G-Con controllers. (It is a lot more versatile, but that’s besides the point.) So, I hope you enjoy what will be a regular series, with upcoming posts on Dino Stalker and Guncom 2, aka Death Crimson XO, both for PS2. After those two games I’m utterly flexible, so if you have any suggestions/recommendations please drop a comment below. Right now the list of potentials consists of Vampire Night, Virtua Cop: Elite Edition, Time Crisis 3, Crisis Zone, Gunfighter II: Revenge of Jesse James and the Point Blank games on PS1. But enough talk, ON WITH TIME CRISIS 2!!
What better way to kick off a series of posts on lightgun games than by covering a classic like Time Crisis 2? This game is excellent – just as much a blast as I remembered in the arcade. I enjoyed my time with the original Time Crisis recently on PS1 but the sequel takes things to the next level. The premise however, in which you take cover to reload and dodge bullets, remains the same. Otherwise Time Crisis 2 builds on the original, packing a greater punch in a slightly shorter game, and adding greater depth to the experience of unleashing bullets and reloading like a madman.
Unlike the original, in which the key to scoring is the clock, the sequel is much more concerned with how you dispatch of the game’s enemies. It’s a positive change which makes shooting that much more satisfying. Instead of one-shot-they-disappear enemies, Time Crisis 2 encourages you to shoot enemies multiple times once they’re dead and into their flailing death animations. Sadistic perhaps, but it’s the best way to start a combo which you can then chain by shooting other enemies without delay. Outside of the main arcade mode, Time Crisis 2 features a surprisingly in-depth training/challenge mode that teaches you how to exploit these mechanics to good effect. It’s cool stuff.
Mechanics aside, the main game plays like an action film at quadruple speed – exploding vans, shattering glass, somersaulting boats, and that’s just the first level. The bosses are pretty cool too, especially the second level. On a moving train, the boss picks up an enormous missile off the floor and swings it at you. After you shoot him enough times he casually hops into an airborne helicopter and fires a minigun at you from there. The story stuff is just as cheesy and ridiculous: camp, cackling villains and silent, strong-type heroes all over the place. It’s not quite up there with the original game but frankly what is: “Be my guest and let me entertain you!”
One of the best features of Time Crisis 2 is the co-op multiplayer, or double gun mode as it’s called. Of course even if you’re playing alone there’s nothing to stop you from doing this mode and using two G-Cons at the same time, a very cool feature (if rather taxing on the ol’ noggin trying to multi-task – you’ll have a whole new respect for Chow Yun Fat’s mad skills in all those dual-pistol wielding John Woo movies).
There’s a second multiplayer mode, splitscreen, which it turns out is far more limited than you might expect. It shrinks each player’s screen to about a quarter of the total screen size with enormous black bars on the top, bottom, left and right of the screen! Clearly it was the result of laziness of Namco’s part that they didn’t adjust the gameplay to make it fit into a smaller aspect ratio so they just preserved the original. Boo. As an alternative the game offers the opportunity to play in a kind of LAN mode…yep, if you can bring together two PS2s, two copies of the game, two TVs, an iLink cable and I guess two lightguns, you can basically replicate the original arcade game. Insane, but I am impressed that the game allows you to do it.
Last are a few minigames, recreated arcade experiences from a more innocent, pre-Time Crisis era. They’re a mixed bag, with all of them closer to fairground challenges than full-scale videogames, but they provide some fun nonetheless. I especially like one which makes you point away from the screen (the original arcade cabinet featured a holster that you’d draw the gun from) before you shoot a single stationary target, then a single moving target, then multiple moving targets and finally a mug. Your total time is then totted up and that’s your high score. It’s super addictive trying to get less than 5 seconds total time and a tough challenge. There’s a great fairground announcer voice accompanying the whole thing too. I know I must sound ridiculous waxing lyrical about this minigame but, truth be told, Time Crisis 2 is such a slick, well put-together experience it left me wanting more, and after a few playthroughs of the main game that craving for more Namco magic drove me to the minigames.
So now you’ve read my take on the game. If you need more convincing, try this excellent review from peanutbutterjammatime. And if that isn’t enough… do you have a pulse?!