Time Crisis 4 (PS3)

The world is under threat from bugs that want to kill you, me, and everyone else. Who you gonna call? (Hint: it’s not the Ghostbusters)

The world is under threat from bugs. Not programming bugs, but rather bugs that want to kill you, me, and everyone else.

Who you gonna call?

You didn’t answer with Ghostbusters did you? You’d be wrong if you did.

No, we’re calling on the boys from the VSSE Intelligence Agency to take on the bad guys in the way only an office lacking any bullet proof vest or armour can!

Yes, Time Crisis is back in an all new ride that marks as both the first new Time Crisis title in over five years as well as its first date out on the PlayStation 3.

I wouldn’t exactly call it a solid start to a first date, but it’s interesting all the same.

In Time Crisis 4, you can choose to play in one of two modes: first person shooter or arcade. Arcade is the same basic mode you’ve been playing for years in the arcade. I can’t remember whether Time Crisis’s arcade mode originally had a crosshair but that seems to be missing from Time Crisis 4 in the arcade mode. You’ll run through a “story” as either Giorgio Bruno or Evan Bernard aiding a government operative named William Rush to help stop a new form of terrorism and bio-warfare called the Terror Bite. You’ll fight bugs hell bent on killing you as well as human enemies who for some predictable reason are also hell bent on killing you.

Hit the first person shooter mode and you’ll be playing the same story but told with an intro in the beginning to lead up to what’s happening in the arcade mode, which you’ll also play in first person style.

Graphically, Time Crisis 4 is pretty spectacular pulling out some of the nicest computer animated effects I’ve seen in a light gun game. It’s almost as if the PlayStation 3 has really decided to shoot arcade stations in the foot with the ability to take home an arcade experience when you buy one.

Sound & music is your typical array of cheesy audio just like in most other gun games. Maybe it’s a staple that keeps these games bound together, but we just can’t seem to get away from the bold but cheesy characters and overly hyped up electronic rock that feels like it would fit better in a movie best left in the eighties.

One of the things though that you might expect out of a PlayStation 3 game is for a wireless gun. It’s not unreasonable to expect that with a wireless game controller, we get the chance to use a wireless gun. The developers must have thought otherwise as the G-Con guns you use in Time Crisis 4 are all tethered to the PlayStation by way of a USB cable, and a somewhat short one at that. If you happen to be using more than two guns, be prepared for a bit of a tangle between the PS3’s USB ports.

The gun situation gets a little bit more complicated because of the technology replacement that’s needed for modern screens. You see, because most of us aren’t using the old Cathode Ray Tube sets that worked with light-guns by way of cathode ray timing, companies have had to go back to the drawing board to come up with new ways of letting us play light gun shooters.

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In the Time Crisis 4 pack, you’ll get two Infrared LED boxes wired together that will need to be plugged into the PlayStation 3 for power. Unfortunately, Namco haven’t seen fit to provide a long enough cable to use between these controlling boxes. They flip over your screen easily enough, but if you’ve got a fairly large screen, you’ll run out of room to put them and get an evenly spaced place to shoot from. As a result, you might find that your range light is frequently lit up more than you’d like, forcing you to change your shooting location repeatedly until something actually works.

The gun also has a bias to right handed people. Being a lefty, this produces an issue with me as my dominant hand is my left hand. The right handed issue isn’t as big as a lot of people would expect, rather. You can play with a left hand quite easily in arcade mode, but when you switch to the sloppily developed first person mode, the extra controls that are needed to play it with on the extra gun part just don’t work if you have less control in your right hand. An idea might have been for Namco to allow that little plastic gun sidecar to slide off from its position and let you attach a module that can be used with the right hand, but that seems to be missing here. For my review, I found that I had to use my left hand to hold the pistol grip while using my right hand holding the extra part twisting underneath the G-Con barrel. Sufficed to say, it wasn’t exactly uncomfortable.

In fact, uncomfortable seemed to be the state of mind I found myself in when playing with the first person shooter. Even thought I tried desperately to wrap my head around the thought of playing with my right hand (like most people probably will be able to), the first person shooting mode had me confused as to why someone would think that wandering in between the “on-rails” bits of a rail shooter would be interesting. Rather, the walks between shoot outs are often boring strolls through empty and uninteresting landscape. It seems kind of strange then that all of a sudden, enemies will jump out of the blue in large numbers and then disappear into the landscape.

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This sort of mechanics works well when the shooter is stuck to its movement rails, but when you tell people that the automatic movement is going to cease to exist and you’re essentially playing the same sort of game, the concept of fun tends to take a turn for the worst.

When all said is done, you’ll find that Time Crisis 4 gives you half of an experience. On the one hand, you can enjoy Time Crisis when you’re with friends, both of you firing at the screen in a cacophony of random gunfire and unlimited continues that almost makes light of how much money you probably lost at the hands of one of its predecessors. And on the other hand, Time Crisis 4 gives an underwhelming experience let down by poor controls on a weak controller, an even more irrelevant story than past games have had, weak gameplay, and a lack of fun.

All of this makes me feel a little less on the inside because at the moment, the best on-rails light gun games seem to exist on the Nintendo Wii, and that’s sad because you’d think that with the level of power that the PlayStation 3 has to offer, someone at Namco would have seen that this game should have been a lot better than what it is.

Developer: Bandai Namco Games
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Classification: M
Formats: PlayStation 3
URL: Time Crisis 4

Reviewed by Leigh D. Stark