Review by IrenicApollyon

Reviewed: 07/31/06

A Pixel-Perfect Arcade-to-Console Port

Time Crisis is an attempt to successfully port Namco's famous arcade light-gun shooter to the Playstation home console. As a whole, Namco has done a top-notch job bringing the title in its entirety to the PSX, suffering very few changes in its move from the arcade to your living room. Coupled with Namco's <u>Gun-Con</u>, Time Crisis promises to deliver the same atmosphere and excitement you get when playing its arcade original.

The plot in Time Crisis is a very basic one, it's not going to be winning any awards for creativity but it gets the job done. The President's daughter has been kidnapped by a notorious terrorist, Mad Dog, and his goonies. Naturally, your mission is to drop in and take out his entire island fortress solo (or with one friend). A very common premise in light-gun titles (and movies), but since the plot isn't really that important to the game it isn't anything worth taking points away for.

Since the title's name is Time Crisis, time definitely plays a factor in how you go about completing your mission. Each section of every level must be completed within a certain timeframe or the mission is failed, this wouldn't make much sense if the game played like all other light-gun titles, but Time Crisis has one more thing going for it. In Time Crisis' arcade version, players could hide behind walls and crates, pressing a footpad to jump out from behind their cover and blast on terrorist fools. This refreshing new take on the rather straightforward run-and-gun gameplay that light-gun titles usually have makes for much tighter, exciting runs through the game, as players must balance how long they take cover with how much time they have left. For younger gamers, this can very possibly lead to a race against time and some very memorable moments. For older gamers, it's an entirely different story. The only problem experts will face is that most of the terrorists you'll face have terrible aim, thus allowing the player to stay out of cover and shoot, only hiding when they want to reload. This basically renders time a rather unimportant factor to consider (at least for the more experienced).

Though the footpad didn't survive the arcade-to-console translation, players can still make use of this game mechanic by pressing a button on their <u>Gun-Con</u>. This button's function can be slightly modified by using the in-game options menu, allowing you to decide whether pressing it makes you take cover, or jump out from cover. The feeling is a bit different, though quite easy to accustom yourself to. I, myself, would have preferred a footpad since it's far more comfortable and does more to physically put the player into the game than merely pressing a button.

Footpad troubles can be ignored when you take a look at the console version's extra mission. The PSX version's extra mission essentially doubles the replay time of this game, allowing players to run through a brand new level and face new enemies. It's also notably harder than the original mission, making it a definite plus for those of us who found taking down Mad Dog's fortress a little too easy. Namco didn't bother to include any kind of mission briefing or plot with the extra mission, but that's nothing to complain about since the original narrative was pretty much non-existent to begin with.

Graphically, this PSX port has very much to be proud of. Time Crisis suffers no noticeable degradation of graphics quality when compared to its arcade-based sister. The framerate is generally very smooth, only chugging once or twice when too many polygons are being drawn at once. This reviewer will admit that Time Crisis' enemy models and textures are rather dated for a PSX title, and the animations are fairly clunky and unnatural, but that's a complaint that should be taken to the developers of the arcade version.

Level design as a whole is fairly simple, even for the PSX's hardware specs. Comprised of simple blocks, you'll be hard pressed to find curves anywhere in this game. Throughout the mission, you'll be spending most of your time within the island fortress, occasionally stepping outside for a few brief moments to mow down some of Mad Dog's goonies. The lack of any particular creativity in the stage layouts is disappointing and takes quite a bit away from the replay value. It's somewhat difficult to discern one area from another. At times the game will surprise you, though, with some brilliant fighting areas, one of which has you facing off against several baddies on a lift as you duck to avoid swinging hooks. More events like that should, and could, have been implemented, especially in the extra mission where Namco really had a chance to go wild with their level design. At the end of the day, the title remains a very faithful port and succeeds in bringing about the same aesthetic atmosphere that the original did.

It's difficult to think of what kind of problem could possibly stop the port from having the same sound files as its arcade original. Clearly, there was no difficulty here as the sounds remain entirely untouched and the same. That's no real compliment as the original sound effects were rather uninspired and bland, and the voice acting is ridiculously over-the-top to the point where you're either cringing or laughing your pants off at the terrible line delivery. Once again, this port manages to offer the same aural atmosphere (or lack thereof) as its arcade edition.

So if you're in the market for a light-gun game, look no further than Time Crisis. Though it fails to deliver anything particularly new or groundbreaking, fans of its arcade edition should be very happy with a perfect port in their living rooms. Coupled with the <u>Gun-Con</u> and a very cool extra mission, light-gun fanatics will be spending quite a bit of time with this title. Though it suffers the same basic faults that its original had, the game is and will remain a classic. At the very least, a very good rent.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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