Time Crisis (video game)
PlayStation cover art
|Producer(s)||Kazunori Sawano |
|Designer(s)||Hirofuki Kami |
|Platform(s)||Arcade, PlayStation, PlayStation 2|
|Genre(s)||Light gun shooter, rail shooter|
|Arcade system||Namco Super System 22|
Time Crisis served as an answer to Namco rival Sega's Virtua Cop, imitating that game's fully polygonal graphics and enemies who react differently depending on where they are shot. However, it differentiated itself from Virtua Cop and other light gun shooters with its ducking mechanic, which allows players to reload and avoid enemy fire. As a counter to prevent over-reliance on ducking, players have a limited amount of time to complete each area, and cannot advance while ducking. Both the arcade version and the PlayStation conversion were well-received by critics.
Time Crisis is a three-dimensional first-person rail shooter similar to Virtua Cop and The House of the Dead, in that the player holds a light gun and fires at on-screen enemies. Time Crisis is best known for its cover system, in which players can duck behind cover to avoid enemy fire and reload their weapons. In the arcade version, a foot pedal is used to toggle between ducking and attacking positions. In console conversions, a button command replicates the foot pedal's functions. The PlayStation version allows players to use the pedal from a racing wheel peripheral. The player loses a life if hit by a direct bullet or obstacle whilst not taking cover. There are three stages, each consisting of three areas and a boss battle. The player must complete each area in a certain amount of time. To avoid running down the clock, the player must take risks, shooting enemies rapidly and hiding only when necessary. A time extension is rewarded when an area is passed, and there are time bonuses awarded for shooting certain enemies quickly.
The arcade cabinet's light gun (introduced in Point Blank) utilizes a special memory chip to synchronize areas of the screen's image as the player rotates the gun around. The light gun also features a blowback function which simulates real-life gun recoil; this feature is not retained in the PlayStation port. The PlayStation port can be played either with the GunCon light gun peripheral or by using a controller to aim a cursor around the screen. The port features an exclusive Special mode, in which the player's performance, such as how quickly they can clear an area, affects the path they take through the game, resulting in multiple possibilities and endings.
In 1995, the V.S.S.E., an international protection agency, helps Sercian opposition leader William MacPherson engineer a coup that overthrows a century-old authoritarian regime. MacPherson is elected as the Sercian republic's first president. Sherudo Garo, the last survivor of the regime, plots to restore the old order, launching a series of attacks and assassinations that destabilize the nation. As the finishing touch, Sherudo has MacPherson's daughter Rachel abducted and imprisoned in his family's castle on a remote island, demanding vital military secrets in exchange for her life. A desperate MacPherson contacts the V.S.S.E., who in turn dispatches veteran agent Richard Miller, the "One Man Army", to infiltrate the castle and rescue Rachel.
Miller reaches the island and rams his explosives-rigged boat into the castle's exterior to create an entrance. Sherudo hears the resulting boom, but his head of security, Wild Dog, assures him that Miller will not last long against his highly trained mercenaries. Meanwhile, Miller confronts Wild Dog's troops in the submarine hangar and makes his way to the main courtyard against heavy resistance, eventually reaching Rachel's location. She warns him of a setup before being whisked away. Miller is confronted by Dog's chief assassin, Moz, and his unit. He defeats them and interrogates Moz, who reveals that Rachel has been transferred to the clock tower. There, Miller is attacked by Sherudo, a trained knife thrower, and guns him down, only to find Rachel held at gunpoint by Dog. Angered by Sherudo's death, Dog reveals his intentions to blow up the castle with Richard inside and escape with Rachel. Pursuing them to the castle's helipad, Miller arrives just as Rachel manages to break free, leading Dog to shoot her. A furious Miller engages Dog in a fast-and-loose gun battle across the rooftop, during which Dog accidentally sets off his detonator, apparently killing himself in a fiery explosion. Richard collects the wounded Rachel and escapes in Dog's chopper just as the rest of the castle goes up in flames.
The PlayStation version features a special mission known as the "Kantaris Deal", which takes place several weeks after the main story's events. Miller is alerted by V.S.S.E to the presence of an illegal arms factory posing as a Sercian hotel, with ties to Wild Dog's organization. He is assigned to infiltrate the factory and eliminate its owner, Kantaris. Upon clearing the lobby, Miller has three different paths to his target. The first takes him through the ballroom/casino, where he eliminates Kantaris's scythe-hand assassin, Web Spinner. He then pursues her to the swimming pool just as she attempts to escape by air. After shooting down an escort gunship, Miller damages the engines of Kantaris's ship just as it takes off, causing it to crash and explode. Should Miller fail to stop Web Spinner in time, he will instead be taken to the arms factory; and should Miller fail to pursue Kantaris in time, he will instead be taken to Kantaris' office in the lounge. The second path, which can only be accessed if there are less than 22 seconds left on the clock, instead goes through the shopping mall and down into a garbage disposal. There, Miller uses a claw arm to punch a hole in the wall, allowing him to access the underground arms factory. From there, he makes his way to Kantaris' office in the lounge and defeats her personal security droid, which then malfunctions and rolls out the window, taking her with it. Should Miller fail his pursuit in the arms factory, he will instead be redirected to the parking lot. The third path can be made available if Richard does not activate the claw in time. Instead of entering the factory, he goes directly through the parking lot. After defeating a spider-legged battle tank, Miller disables Kantaris's car, forcing it to crash. If in any of these scenarios Miller fails to take action soon enough, Kantaris escapes and the mission is aborted. (Canonically, the spin-off game Time Crisis: Project Titan takes place after the mission's failure.)
Though both the arcade and PlayStation versions were developed internally at Namco, none of the arcade development team had any direct involvement with the PlayStation version. Since the PlayStation's CPU speed is much lower than that of the System 22 arcade hardware, the team reduced demands on the PlayStation CPU by cutting the game's frame rate in half, reducing the number of polygons used, emulating the real-time lighting by coloring the polygons one-by-one, and delaying the appearance of enemies so that only a certain number of enemies could appear on-screen at any time.
The development team took photos of hotels and factories in the Tokyo area as reference for the PlayStation mode's hotel design. To make the large areas in the hotel work on the hardware, the team left the portions of these areas not visible to the player unrendered. Three planned sequences - an outdoor restaurant, a missile room explosion, and a boat race - were left out because the team eventually realized that creating them was not practical, at least not within the time they had to complete the PlayStation version. New music was recorded for the PlayStation mode, using a "synthesized orchestra" of 50 individually synthesized instruments.
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A soundtrack Time Crisis Arcade Soundtrack was released in 1997. Another soundtrack Time Crisis 3D Sound Ensemble was released later. It contains audio dramas that depicts events during and before the first game, such as Miller's battle against Sherudo from the game.
The Japanese arcade magazine Game Machine listed Time Crisis as being the most-successful arcade game of the year in April 1996. Next Generation hailed the game as being superior even to competitor Sega's Virtua Cop 2, primarily due to the unique foot pedal maneuver. The reviewer remarked that "By creating this innovative maneuvering technique, in addition to time-based, predetermined path running, providing Story or Attack mode and challenging end-level bosses, Time Crisis thrusts the light-gun genre into a brand-new territory - and develops a whole new way of looking at, and playing, the classic light-gun game."
The PlayStation version received "favorable" reviews according to the review aggregation website GameRankings. Critics applauded the close conversion of the arcade game, and said the special PlayStation mode greatly extended the game's lifespan, and was even superior to the original arcade campaign. And though GamePro questioned the accuracy of the bundled GunCon peripheral, reporting that "there are times when dead-on shots seem to miss", the overwhelming majority of critics deemed it the best light gun yet released for the PlayStation.
A number of critics found that despite the innovative ducking mechanic, the game is too simplistic, in particular that it lacks any powerups or innocent bystanders that the player must avoid shooting. The lack of a multiplayer mode was also criticized, since this was a standard feature in light gun shooters. The British Computer and Video Games complained at the slowness of the PAL conversion, with reviewer Tom Guise saying that though he otherwise preferred Time Crisis over Virtua Cop, when it came to the games' respective British home releases he favored the fully PAL-optimized Virtua Cop. However, these criticisms had little impact on overall recommendations; Guise concluded that "these factors cannot stop this game from being a High Five" and Next Generation stated that "when compared to other light-gun shooters for home systems, Time Crisis is as good as it gets."
There was some disagreement over which of the PlayStation version's three methods of emulating the arcade version's foot pedal was best. GameSpot praised the reload button on the GunCon for forcing the player to use a more realistic two-handed grip, while Computer and Video Games and Electronic Gaming Monthly both said stepping on the standard joypad's buttons offers the best combination of accuracy and similarity to the foot pedal.
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Not content to only bring out one new controller, Time Crisis will be coming out with a new gun to be able to handle all the additional requirements that the arcade counterpart had.
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