Genre : Action
Release Date: October 21, 2003
Pre-order 'TIME CRISIS 3': PlayStation 2
I am largely a superfluous participant in this preview, in that I am here to tell you that Time Crisis 3 will, in the near future, exist upon your PlayStation-2 in a remarkably faithful arcade adaptation.
This means one of two things: either you have just come out of a stupor that has lasted for months, dusted and oiled your long-cold light gun, and are salivating at the chance of some more lightning-fast, twitch gaming; or you are nonplussed by this news.
But really, if you’ve got a light gun and the urge to use it, what else have you got? Time Crisis 3 could have easily been a phoned-in, haphazard port, released to the sure security of an undertargeted niche audience.
It isn’t. It is, in fact, a pure and simple recreation of the arcade experience, minus the bored girlfriends, mad wind ninja Asian guys, and the Fat Sweaty Person Who Has Never Heard of Soap Or Water. (Every arcade has those. They come free with the business license.)
Time Crisis 3 is, for those who don’t know, the latest installment in the series of shooting games with the remarkably large cabinet and the foot pedal. In each level, your character moves cautiously from hard cover to hard cover, taking on entire armies of terrorists with nothing more than a handgun and an infinite supply of ammunition. When you’re hiding, you’re safe, and you can reload, but the timer is constantly running down. In each sequence, you must race the clock, knocking down terrorists as fast as they appear, to earn time bonuses and thus the chance to face whatever enormous murder machine is waiting at the end of the level.
Each game in the series has refined this basic concept, adding improved graphics and the same sort of madcap, lunatic invention that characterizes all the best arcade shooters. Time Crisis 3, for example, continues its basic feel and mechanics, even while you’re firing upon a fully-armed and armored C-130 carrier aircraft and its remarkably bullet-resistant pilot from the back of a speeding jeep. When the aircraft has had enough, and reels back into a less vulnerable flight vector, several entire jeeps full of terrorists can be relied upon to try to punch your ticket; you can respond with carefully targeted shots to the heads of the jeeps’ drivers, the detonation of the jeeps’ gas tanks, or, failing that, pull out a shotgun and spray them all impartially with lead.
Speaking of that, Time Crisis 3’s chief innovation in the series might be the addition of the characters’ portable arsenals. In previous Time Crises, your characters had a pistol as a reliable go-to weapon, and aside from that, were restricted to whatever bonus weaponry they could grab on the fly. TC3 plays it differently, in that you begin equipped with a machine gun, shotgun, and grenade launcher. They have finite ammunition, but you can refill them by capping handily available yellow-suited terrorists. The various weapons’ advantages and disadvantages are fairly obvious when you think about it—the machine gun does surprising damage and allows you to simply hold down the trigger until it runs dry, the shotgun has a hitbox the size of the Clarion Fracture Zone, and the grenade launcher kills things dead—but their presence adds a degree of tactics to the game above and beyond “kill the hell out of everything that isn’t me.” You can cycle between the weapons while you’re behind cover.
It is, of course, possible to play Time Crisis 3 with a controller, but the result will be far different from the experience you’ll have with a light gun. As a gun game, TC3 rewards twitch reflexes and perfect timing; with a controller, you’ll find that your crosshairs onscreen can never move fast enough, so you’ll be forced to compensate with pattern memorization. The difference is one of a modern light gun shooter vs. a pattern-based game from a couple of console generations ago; it is not to say that one is better than the other, but simply that the difference exists. PS: get a light gun, cheapskate, they’re only like twenty bucks.
However you choose to play Time Crisis 3, you’ll find that the experience at home is mostly unchanged from the arcade version. It’s still fast, furious, intensely difficult, and a hell of a lot of fun. Save your arcade tokens for another week, and pick up the game when it comes out on October 21st.
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