Namco has been refining its Time Crisis series with each installment, and with Time Crisis 3, theyíve achieved a near-perfect blend of arcade shooting action and cinematic storytelling. If youíve never played a light gun game before or have but donít quite get it, you may wonder just what compels folks to drop 60 bucks on a plastic gun and maybe and hour or less of gameplay. Sure itís not incredibly deep, but fans of these games know what they want, and Namco happens to be the best at what they do. The replay value is endless and the game is the perfect stress reliever I have to admit. Blasting hordes of leaping terrorists, massive rocket firing tanks, and bad men with futuristic goggles or long metal claws can be quite fun after a long day of paper-pushing, stinky commuters, and bad coffee.
Longtime TC fans expecting the usual solid non-stop action will find an all-new on the fly weapon select system that allows for a number of ways to play through the game. You now have a handgun, machine gun, shotgun, or grenade launcher, and there are new areas where you use a sniper rifle as well. Gameplay is simple, yet quite challenging. Fast moving color-coded bad guys dart about shooting lead and other projectiles at you, and you make your best efforts to blast them out of your way. You can duck behind certain objects, but a constantly ticking clock keeps your heart racing and the bullets flying. Thereís a bit of plot going on about terrorists invading a fictional Mediterranean nation and taking a number of hostages (and it works quite well), but Iíd say half the folks who buy this game arenít buying it for the story.
You get an excellent port of the arcade game here, along with a couple of console-exclusive treats. Key here is Crisis Mission Mode, in which you earn medals by participating in missions with specific objectives. As a single-player game, TC3 is a total blast, but grab a friend, and things get even better. The 2-player co-op mode is sweet, but with 2 copies of the game, 2 TVs, and one of those elusive I-Link cables, itís a great deal more enjoyable. Of course, itís up to you to find enough space to fit both of those TVs in, but no doubt youíll be dropping less coin than if you shelled out for a TC3 arcade machine, no?
Visually, itís arcade perfection all the way, and the console only new character and extra missions only sweeten the pot. I do wonder how a TC game made specifically for the Xbox (or soon to be phased out Game Cube) hardware would look like thoughÖ While itís entirely possible to play through the game with the PS2 controller, definitely drop the extra cash for the box set that comes with the Guncon 2. Not only will you get maximum control and accuracy, if you have any friends in your local police department, invite them over and have a little party. This will keep them from dropping by when if you happen to play the game through a home theater setup. TC3 is one of the loudest games Iíve played in a while. Yeah, that means the audio quality absolutely rocks (as the kids say).
The only thing missing from games like these is an online mode, which would be a cool idea to implement in a future installment in the series. Of course, the rather short length of the main game makes for not a hell of a lot of variety, but what about downloadable maps from all the games in the series enhanced for whatever console happens to be around at the time?
Longevity issues aside, Time Crisis 3 is the equivalent of a fast-paced action movie; you know, where stuff blows up real good every few seconds with a minimum of plot. Well, you donít get the stretches of faded character actors chewing scenery, Toronto posing as New York or L.A., or up and coming starlets doing shower scenes, but thatís definitely a welcome thing in this case. Now if youíll excuse me, Iíve some more thugs to remove from a little island- grab yourself a copy of Time Crisis 3 and join the club!
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