Arcades recently got a taste of lead as Namco released its fourth edition of its long-withstanding light gun franchise. Why should you care? Because it’s safe to say this title will eventually be ported to consoles just like its predecessors.
Namco’s Time Crisis 4 was showcased at this year’s E3 and once again brings double screen deluxe cabinet goodness to U.S. arcades. However, part four brings more than just the addition of weapons to the table as new elements have been introduced which affect actual game play mechanics.
Namco once again throws in a cliché Rica Sauvé duo by the names of Giorgio and Evan, sent to an airport to intercept terrorist trafficking. However, it wouldn’t be much of a game if everything went smoothly – an information leak leads to the ambush of the heroes and everything goes downhill from there.
Time Crisis 4 introduces nanotechnology and bioterrorism into its plot with the introduction of a new series of enemies codenamed “Terror Bite.” Terror Bite is a line of miniature robots resembling insects that attack in massive swarms.
The onslaughts of nanonuisances come in marching and flying forms and attempt to attach to your character for a tasty bite. If you can’t shoot the attached Terror Bite off of your screen fast enough, you’ll suffer a hit. To further matters worsen, multiple bugs biting you means your time to shoot them off depletes even faster.
The weapon selection system, as well as the weapons themselves, is 100 percent intact and untouched from Time Crisis 3. Time Crisis 4, however, adds a “weakness” aspect to specialized enemies. For example, when an armored gunner closes in on you, a blast of the shotgun will knock him to the ground and the text “best weapon” will appear. While it doesn’t add too much to the game, it does make the specialized weapons seem a lot more, well, special.
Perhaps the biggest change is the multi-screened standoffs, which occur as scripted storyline segments. At certain points in the story, players will become surrounded by enemies and have no choice but to hole up behind a barricade. With enemies coming at players from all directions, players will have to keep tabs not only in front of them, but also to the left and right as well.
By pointing the light gun off screen either to the left or right, your character will pivot accordingly to see what dangers are waiting to the side. With the help of new NPC characters from the U.S. Joint Intelligence Division, offsite communications will alert you to dangers coming at you from either side.
While this addition is still nothing too huge, it offers something new to the game play, which has basically been unchanged since Time Crisis 2.
The new game also borrows from other popular arcade shooters, mainly Machine Guns and Silent Scope, with segments that have you shooting rail guns from a helicopter and shooting with pinpoint accuracy from a sniper rifle. While the concepts are borrowed, taking down SAM trucks and helicopters provides a change of pace of shooting the same enemies you’ve encountered since, once again, part two.
Graphically, Time Crisis 4 is not much different than part three – which is a good thing. The environments are all nicely detailed, the characters look and animate great and the explosions look better than ever.
The most notable non-game play improvement lies within the sound. With Agent Rush and your communications, the number of voice clips in the game is bumped up significantly from other installments of the game. All of the main characters feature surprisingly decent voice acting that, for once, give the characters in the Time Crisis universe a little depth and personality.
Another great surprise for the series is the somewhat deep and twisting storyline. Featuring plot twists and mission segments that build tension, Time Crisis 4 provides a much more compelling storyline than a generic “save the world from this weapon” yet again.
While the surface has changed, unfortunately Time Crisis 4 is still the tried and true hide-and-shoot mechanic introduced nearly 10 years ago. The game is executed extremely well and brings a lot more freshness than part three did, but at the core, the game is still the same as the original Time Crisis. Also, much like parts two and three, Time Crisis 4 lacks the urgency of time the original did – you can take your time in moderation and still not have to worry about the clock.
Overall, Time Crisis 4 is a great addition to the series. Teaming up with a buddy gives the standoff mechanics a little more reason to bring a friend to watch your back and makes the already fun multiplayer a little deeper while the weapon weakness system gives players more reason to experiment with the different weapons. With new play mechanics, the same old shoot-everything-that-moves philosophy is built upon and gives the series a very solid arcade pinnacle.