Time Crisis 4

Tick, Tick, Boom

Time Crisis 4 has arrived and it's everything you'd expect a Time Crisis game to be, maybe even a little more.
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: November 20, 2007
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Though we're only a year or so into next-gen territory (which I suppose is probably the cut-off for considering something next-gen), there's been a decided lack of light gun shooters on the market. One could argue that the Wii has seen more than a few, but with the exception of Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles and the upcoming Ghost Squad, these are really just first-person shooters with tacked-on Wii-specific controls. No, what I'm talking about is a pure light gun shooter, and for years there's been just one name synonymous with the genre: Time Crisis.


Technically, it should probably be two names, since no Time Crisis game is complete without Namco's Guncon accessory, but with the advent of the HDTV, the old-school tech that worked on CRT televisions won't work on a fancy plasma or LCD big-screen. The solution? A pair of sensors that sit at the top of the TV and catch the signals coming from the new Guncon 3. Not only does this let you play light gun shooters in all their glory, but it actually tracks your movements in real time, just like at the arcades.

You'd expect, then, that Time Crisis 4 would arrive in arcade-perfect form and with the exception of a little extra work needed to calibrate the gun to get it just right and frankly ridiculous moments of slowdown given the visuals, it most emphatically does -- well, provided you weren't expecting a home light gun to come with kick-ass recoil. Namco has always poured tons of love into the home console releases of the TC games, and TC4 delivers in spades, but I'll get to that in a second.

Time Crisis 4 as an arcade game is probably the best the series has ever seen, mainly because it takes the freely switchable handgun, machine gun, grenade launcher and shotgun from Time Crisis 3 and adds in more sequences where you're given unlimited ammo, a gun that can burp like 20 rounds a second and then has you switching to multiple "screens" (read: turning left and right with the analog sticks on the Guncon) to spray down enemies.

The sequences are an absolute blast, and really do add something new (or at least a bit of Crisis Zone) to the mix. Coupled with the series' laughably cheesy dialogue and impossible situations (quick, a cable car is loose in San Francisco, better blow it up to stop it! Oh no, a biological weapon called "terror bites" are loose, unload your machine gun on them to kill them all!), the game is an unapologetically corny take on an action flick, and it's a total riot all the way through.

In stark contrast to providing another level or two or adding in a bunch of replay modes, however, Namco decided to go a little nuts when porting the game to the PS3. The Guncon 3, if you haven't seen it yet, sports a little side grip that actually houses two new buttons and an analog stick, bring the total number of buttons on the gaudy orange controller to a whopping eight. Both the side grip stick and the one that sits where the hammer on a normal gun can be clicked down just like the DualShock controllers for another two buttons in addition to the six regular ones that are scattered all over the controller.

This was done for a very specific reason: the PS3 version of Time Crisis 4 has a first-person shooter mode. As in you can walk, look and aim all at the same time rather than being locked down on rails like the arcade games. It is, understandably, an awkward experience, and the development team was nice enough to keep the first level fairly easy, though the difficulty starts to ramp up after that. These sequences where you'll slowly trudge through levels that mirror parts of the original arcade storyline were meant to tell something of a parallel-running side story starring -- and this is a perfect example of how little the Time Crisis games take themselves seriously -- Captain Rush.
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