Genre: Light Gun Shooter
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Developer: Namco Bandai
Release Date: November 2007
The launch of another PlayStation means the eventual launch of another GunCon peripheral, and sure enough, the blindingly colored accessory is making a comeback this fall with the release of Time Crisis 4 for the PlayStation 3. Both pieces of the Time Crisis equation were on display at a recent Namco Bandai press event, and though our time with the game and gun was limited, we came away with a few details about the next-gen light gun experience.
Time Crisis 4 initially seeped into arcades last year, but the PlayStation 3 iteration will not be a straight port. Though much of the gameplay revolves around the same cover/fire routine that has marked the series since its inception, Time Crisis 4 embraces its console setting with the addition of first-person shooter-style gameplay, which is made possible by the introduction of dual analog sticks to the light-gun experience.
While the GunCon3 retains the core design and gaudy orange tint of its predecessor, there's a little something extra sticking out of the left side — half of a PlayStation controller, really. That odd handle contains one of the two analog sticks, as well as two "shoulder" buttons, either of which can be used to duck into (or pop out of) cover. The other stick rests nicely where the hammer would be on a real handgun, putting it in position for your right thumb to rest upon. The shift to a two-handed design likely makes dual-wielding a difficult proposition, though it may still be a possibility if the button commands can be remapped.
In addition to the two buttons on the handle, another four buttons line the exterior of the GunCon 3, which may be used in the FPS mode. While not playable at the event, we were shown footage of levels in which the player could move freely with the analog sticks in jungle and corridor environments. Additionally, the GunCon3 is endowed with motion-sensing abilities similar to those of the SixAxis, as the gun can sense forward and backward movements, as well as full 360-degree sideways motions. This allows for "multi-screen" segments in which the player can look to either side to assist companion characters.
Story and plot details are admittedly light at this point, as the official trailer contained a hodgepodge of largely nonsensical actions and dialogue. Tidus (from Final Fantasy X) and Will Turner (Orlando Bloom's character in "Pirates of the Caribbean") look-alikes take center stage in a narrative that apparently deals with a slew of government-altered insects called "Terror Bytes." It's all presented in an over-the-top manner with smartass quips, pretty-boy protagonists, and boss fights against characters with names like "Wild Dog."
Unlike previous Time Crisis entries, Time Crisis 4 represents a move away from the light gun technology of old by replacing the yellow composite cable with a pair of tiny sensors that can be affixed to the upper corners of any television. This should eliminate the compatibility issues that have plagued projection television owners for ages, though it'll be interesting to see just how the sensors will be affixed to the monitor.
In addition to the standard arcade-style and FPS gameplay, Time Crisis 4 will also pack a pair of bonus modes that should extend the experience beyond the typically brief quarter-pumping progression. Crisis Missions return from previous iterations with a fresh emphasis on tactical gameplay, while the mini-games bring a series of sharp-shooting objectives with two-player capabilities.
Though its visuals and presentation seem a bit dated on the PlayStation 3 hardware, Time Crisis 4 looks to be an enjoyable update to the established franchise, and should help fill the recent void of light-gun shooters in the home marketplace.
Preview by: Andrew Hayward
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