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Time Crisis 4

Game which use a peripheral such as a gun and I go way back. I threw endless quarters into Operation Wolf and then into Police Trainer at the arcades over the years and even now, I have a tough time passing a light gun game without at least looking. I have played Time Crisis 4 in the arcades very recently, and getting to play it at home without needing to hit the ATM anytime I thought sounded like an awesome idea. Now my relationship with the game is love/hate; I love seeing the game in action and watching people play, I hate throwing quarters into it like the fate of the world was in my hands. And thus my short lived affair with TC4 began at home.

Unpacking the oversized box I discover the revamped GunCon3, featuring not one but two 3rd rate analog thumbsticks and six separate buttons. Also included were two iPod Shuffle sized IR emitters that I had to place on either side of my TV, then to the PS3 via USB. Also taking advantage of the four ports on the console, the GunCon3 itself is tethered via USB. Elegant, this setup is not. The GunCon3 looks odd because of the requirement to make it a 2 handed gun, not only for the Hunterís Orange color itís sporting. The players left hand holds a protrusion which holds buttons and a left analog stick, used in the games FPS mode. While initially the controller seemed comfortable it very soon became cramp inducing and I had to stop after each short section of game to stretch out my hand. Although, I also despised the Dreamcastís controller Ė so take that for what you will.

If you like the arcade version of this game then chances are you know exactly what youíre getting into. You follow two VSSE International Intelligence Agency and an Army man from the USA as they unravel a terrorist network who have access to a super secret weapon dubbed, Terror Bite. The plot really isnít what brings people to these games, and being an arcade port the exposition and storytelling is minimal in the game. The game is the same as the arcade, itís an on-rails shooter where you can take cover from the barrage of bullets and Terror Bites while reloading via a button on the GunCon3. In a very cool optional method of taking cover, any button on a connected SIXAXIS controller acts as a cover button too, so feel free to put the controller on the floor and you have an instant cover pedal.

Another mode of play called Complete Mission mode which interweaves horrible FPS controls to the game. You use the GunCon3 for aiming (cool) and the two control sticks on the controller to operate camera and movement (not cool). For one, the movement in the FPS mode is among the slowest walking I have seen since N64 era FPS, with no run option that I found. Even making the movements or trying to swing the camera is painstaking thanks to the cut-rate controller materials. Take the odd feeling controller mixed with sloth-like camera and player movement and you can imagine how hard it would be to fight fast moving objects like helicopters. Yes, those types of battles are in the 10+ FPS levels, but thankfully most other fighting evokes memories of the static light gun games with brain dead enemy AI who come out of cover just enough for you to take them down. Mixed in with the FPS levels are the fully featured arcade levels, just with more story told to fill in some gaps. This still doesnít make the story any more appealing however, itís still just run of the mill arcade level storytelling.

In a strange twist to force you to keep playing the game only starts you out with three continues. The more you play the game and run out of continues, the more continues the game allows you to have. Get it? If you need 8 continues to finish the game, youíve likely played through the same first few levels probably 20 times by the time you get back to where you were. A sly trick to force replay-ability on the gamer.

Some minigames are also included to help cut back the feeling of being ripped off by your retailer, but even these stages arenít enough to keep any interest. Sure, target shooting can actually be entertaining to try and best yourself, but thatís not everyoneís cup of tea.

Graphically the PS3 version looked better on my home display than in the arcades which I am sure is thanks to the HD capabilities. While it looks better than the arcade, thatís not saying too much. The generally static levels with some slight destructibility all seem to blend together. But since you spend a lot of time popping in and out of cover, you never take that long to look around. Unless youíre playing the Complete Missions, then you are treated to even blander looking environments straight out of Counter-Strike. Boring looking walls give way to dull buildings. The best part about the graphics for the FPS levels is the slowdown that occurs! It happens when a lot of the Terror Bites are onscreen, but I even noticed some slowdown in one particular area in the game. It was a very nondescript room with a slight haze to it, except for around the edges where the shadows lurk. Stepping into the shadows made the game move smooth and silky, but step out into the barren room and the stuttering effects of slowdown are very obvious. Quite disappointing.

The audio in the game is actually decent in a B movie kind of way. Quick paced arcade level music helps propel the game forward and the campy overacted voice work fits in well with the style of game. However, home console gamers are finicky and we donít appreciate terrible B level acting in games anymore, we want top notch. But for this type of game it works well.

The inflated price that TC4 is demanding thanks to the inclusion of the GunCon3 is minimal especially when compared to Rock Band or the Guitar Hero series. But the real question is does the game itself warrant the purchase, and bluntly I donít think it does. Arcade games are short, very short Ė and while thatís not a reason to ignore a game in the case of a one trick pony like Time Crisis 4 it is a reason to ignore it. Some games are meant to be arcade games, and really should only stay in arcades or in the back of some dingy bar. They are quick distractions from the everyday, not something you want to have to set up with LEDs and special controllers. Skip this title and youíll have the quarters to play it where it was meant to be played.