Timesplitters: Future Perfect – They Don’t Make Them Like This Anymore
Looking back on one of the best FPS series' we've had with a retrospective on Timesplitters: Future Perfect.
Since when did FPS games forget how to have fun?
If last year’s excellent DOOM showed us anything, it’s that injecting a healthy amount of humour and ridiculousness into your macho, balls-to-the-wall shooter was anything but a bad thing. There’s a time and a place for serious explorations of war, such as Spec Ops: The Line, but a saturation of gruff, military hardnuts with a hard-on for harrowing violence makes for a boring FPS scene.
Enter the Timesplitters series. First released in the year 2000, the first game brought with it simple gun play reminiscent of the greats like Goldeneye, and a generous heaping of comical characters with silly catchphrases. Each of the game’s levels took place in a wildly different setting and era than the last, and it made for a kooky experience that favoured fun over realism.
Fast-forward to March of 2005, and we got our hands on what I’d consider the pinnacle of Free Radical Design’s wacky shooter series: Future Perfect. The third game in the series, it gave a surprisingly coherent story line that still managed to throw players into varying locales; each with a distinct feel and roster of weapons. You were Sergeant Cortez: military badass who knew when to sprinkle some levity on the situation. Sure, Cortez wasn’t the pinnacle of characterisation, but he was a competent vessel which gamers could imprint upon.
Cortez wasn’t the only memorable aspect of the game, though. The campaign’s 13 levels were stuffed with cartoonish companions, each of whom helped Cortez (and were playable via the game’s couch co-op mode – remember that long-lost feature?). A personal favourite was the zombie mansion level’s Jo-Beth Casey; an archetypal, moody teenager who begins her introductions to Cortez by kicking him in the crotch. That’s the kind of humour you’re dealing with, and it’s great.
The campaign was only the beginning of the vast array of content on offer. There was a deeply customisable arcade mode which allowed for matches against hordes of bots, and when you eventually grew tired of the maps on offer, there was even a mapmaker to create your own scenarios to battle through. I remember playing and creating for hours and hours; and not a single piece of DLC in sight.
Unfortunately, it’s looking very unlikely that we’ll be seeing a Timesplitters 4 any time soon. Free Radical Design was turned into Crytek UK back in 2009, but they were then disbanded in 2014 and the future of the Timesplitters franchise was unsteady to say the least.
However, all is not lost. For a few years, fans of the series have been working on Timesplitters Rewind; a multiplayer-focused remake of sorts which plans on bringing the original games’ maps and characters to a modern engine. A very limited teaser dropped for the project back in February, seeming to confirm a 2017 release. Only time will tell, I guess.
I fully appreciate that this has been little more than a nostalgia trip, but I just miss the good ol’ days of the PS2 and Timesplitters. Hopefully, if Rewind is popular enough, then rumours of a sequel might surface once again. For now, though, I’ll just have to suffice with revisiting these excellent titles every now and then, and reliving the games that punctuated my childhood.