Namco's seminal coin-op shooter hits the PS3 for a second outing, this time with Move support. Old-school gamers will find a warm, safe, happy place of destruction amidst the incredibly destructible landscapes and rail-based action. The inclusion of two other coin-op light gun shooters helps pad the short game life as well, and hey, did we mention it's more stuff to use your Move controller with?
- Move controller works great in lieu of a light gun
- Awesome amounts of destruction
- Three different games
- FPS-mode is awful
- All three games are insanely short
- Rail-shooters are considered old school for a reason
Before going headlong into even talking about a game like Namco's Time Crisis: Razing Storm, you need to ask yourself one question: Do you like gun games? Not those fancy pants first-person shooters with big-time features like, oh, control of your character. Instead, wonder aloud, "Do I still like, or in any way feel that rail-based arcade shooters are still relevant?" Well, do ya, punk? If the answer is yes, Time Crisis: Razing Storm is actually a big, dumb, loud pile of fun. If the answer is no, well, you might think it’s a pile of something else entirely.
Stuck to the Rails
For the sake of argument, we're going to pretend you said yes anyway. Time Crisis 4 hit the PS3 complete with a cheesy orange Guncon controller, which promptly sank into obscurity since nothing else supported the thing. That said, as arcade-based shooters went, TC4 was good stuff. Razing Storm still uses the Guncon controller if you have it. More importantly, it uses the Move, which as it turns out works just like the light gun--only the Move has a few more games that can use it. And a bright squeezy ball... if you're into that sort of thing.
Razing Storm isn't breaking any boundaries of innovation in its genre, but what it does, it does very well. The most distinctive aspect of the game is simply the sheer magnitude of destruction possible. Unlike most shooters (of any sort), Namco went way out of their way to make sure that if you can see it, you can shoot it. This might not sound like a big deal, but in practicality, a destructible world adds immensely to the mindless joys of a rail-shooter. In terms of affecting the actual gameplay, beyond the fun of breaking all the lights, windows, mirrors, bottles, etc., it also means that virtually all cover is destructible.
When Time Crisis first introduced the whole idea of cover, it was a revolutionary concept for a coin-op gun game. Now, enemies can blow such obstacles away just as easily as you can destroy anything they'll hide behind. Beyond that, the gameplay in Razing Storm is essentially unchanged.
Weapon of Choice
In Time Crisis, you always play some kind of badass super cop, and the enemies are always some pesky terrorists from some fictional land of commies with a hair-brained, uninspired scheme to take over the world. Or something. Frankly, the story lines in these games have always been mostly incomprehensible and completely threadbare. The characters are all blatant, two-dimensional stereotypes, with truly groan-inducing dialogue. Since light gun shooters are meant to be played in arcades, the whole game barely lasts more than about 20 minutes.
It's still not a stretch to say this is the best Time Crisis game yet, and for nostalgic lovers of the genre, that might be enough. For anyone else, it's a hard sell. Namco clearly understood the problem, and have created a remarkably well-rounded package. While the arcade mode of Razing Storm is the main attraction, there are different modes of the game available--including both off and online multiplayer--and two other games included besides. Namco has thrown in the coin-op version of Time Crisis 4 and, better yet, the surprisingly fun, pirate-themed shooter, Deadstorm Pirates.
All three are short, fun, and dumb, but it's a solid collection overall. Finally, there's the story mode of Razing Storm. Much like the PS3 version of Time Crisis 4, Namco has tweaked the arcade game to act like an actual first-person shooter. In TC4, the results were mostly playable and interesting purely as a gimmick. Here, it seems extraneous and annoying.
Whether you use the Move, Guncon, or even the standard old Dual Shock control pad, the controls are just awful. The cover mechanic is a nightmare of bad design--requiring players to find a pixel-perfect spot on the screen and tilt the Move up to duck. Moving and turning using the super-sensitive Move controls is likely to send players into fits of frustration, and it all just serves to enunciate that Namco is still ill-equipped to get off the rails.
The on-rails controls, however, are great. Whether you choose the Move or the gun, the aiming is precise and responsive--especially in Razing Storm. The presentation for Razing Storm is quite good too. Though certainly not the PS3's best, the visuals are sharp and detailed, with well-done enemy animation and hit detection. While the music and voice work are forgettable at best, the actual sound effects have great punch as well.
Your Move, Punk
Time Crisis: Razing Storm is, without a doubt, an excellent, old school-style gun game. With the inclusion of two other solid arcade shooters, it's a fun compilation. Just the same, even hardcore fans of the genre will likely have trouble paying full price for three games that, individually, don't even last an hour to beat.