If Namco had really produced a technical tour-de-force, it might have at least given it more of a wow factor, but the truth is the game was already looking a little behind the times when it hit the arcades in 2006. On the PS3 in high definition, there's the occasional spark of magic, but for the most part looks like a crisp makeover of a style that everyone left behind seven or eight years ago.
Once you've extracted any residual enjoyment out of the arcade mode (two-player split-screen is an option, as usual), you might feel tempted to find out more about the story and play the all-new Complete Mission mode. Namco's attempt to expand past the on-rails limitations of the arcade mode, this is essentially a standard FPS take on light-gun gaming, with the GunCon 3's two analog sticks acting in the same look-and-move fashion as they would in a normal run-and-gun.
The difference here, of course, is that you still have to physically aim and shoot with the gun, adding a third layer of control complexity. If you recall, Resident Evil: Dead Aim did this very well about five years ago, and managed to weave a creditable puzzle adventure in among the zombie killing. In Time Crisis 4, it's basic duck-and-cover shooting, occasional jump puzzles, the odd key hunt, and a few demolition jobs. It's very dull throughout, and over-long, and ensures that, following long-forgotten Xbox game Breakdown, Namco still hasn't managed to work out how to make a decent first-person shooter.
Any chance of the Complete Mission mode being fun to play is instantly hampered by the wonky control system and the cripplingly slow run speed. If forcing the player to crawl along at almost walking pace isn't enough to test your resolve, then the ill-considered stick sensitivity, boring level design and poor enemy AI will finish you off. Most of the time you're simply lurching from one samey section to the next, crawling slowly through a bland-looking warehouse, boring forests, or perhaps a tedious dam. The best thing you can say about it is that it checkpoints your progress frequently, so you don't have to continually repeat things; if you did, you'd probably give up anyway.
Possibly the most puzzling aspect of the FPS sections, though, is how awful the graphics engine is. It would shame the PS2, with bland texturing, jagged foliage and that over-sterile look that was a necessity ten years ago, but now simply looks awful when bumped up to high resolution. The fact that Complete Mission mode intersperses the FPS missions with arcade missions to flesh out the experience and provide a consistent narrative merely serves to illustrate the gulf in quality between the two aspects of the game.
And to compound the game's half-arsed nature, the bonus mini-games are about as throwaway as you can imagine, with skeet shooting-style challenges shoehorned in for no good reason at all.
If you were hoping for the return of Time Crisis to herald some kind of rebirth for on-rails shooters, then you'll be sorely disappointed. The arcade mode is dumb fun for a short while, but is little more than a tired throwback, while the addition of FPS missions will be barely tolerable to even the most forgiving shooter. Factor in the extra expense of the shoddy GunCon 3, and even hardcore fans will think twice.
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