It fits that a game about precognition should be so ahead of its time. Playing through Free Radical's psychic-themed stealth shooter today is to tick off a checklist of features big and small that have since become vogue. And yet, in other ways, Second Sight arrived just too late - a misadventure born of unlucky scheduling and scuffles with publishers that led to it launching against the superficially similar Psi-Ops and then being overshadowed by 2004's heavy hitting sequels to Halo and Half-Life.
The story of Free Radical Design begins with one of gaming's milestones, and after almost nine years it ended with the studio's blood on several publisher's hands. Founded in April 1999, the Nottingham-based studio created the much-loved shooter series TimeSplitters and third-person psychic drama Second Sight during the PS2 era. But Haze, the company's final game, received a critical mauling, sold poorly, and shortly afterwards Free Radical entered administration.
A sequel to cult hit Second Sight never materialised because, according to its developer, the game failed to generate enough interest.
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Mind games. John Lennon once sung winsomely about them. Women are past masters at the them. Now suddenly it's the game du jour, with every sod under the sun is making videogames about scary men with telekinetic powers. What's that all about? Did Midway and Free Radical get mullered one night at GDC two years ago and have a pissing contest about who could make the best one? How else do you explain the almost simultaneous arrival of two games that are almost identical in concept? Co-incidence? They don't get much bigger than this - or perhaps a psychic designer simply scanned the minds of rival teams until finally discovering the best-sounding idea. Perhaps it was theft? Goodness knows, but it's bizarre, anyway, that this reviewer suddenly finds himself chief TK gamer. [No it isn't. In both cases you hid the code so only you could write about it. -Ed]
But as much as we'd like to secretly believe that we're storing up some latent psychic ability that we'll unleash upon the ne'er-do-wells in later life, the truth is, we're just another bunch of ten-percenters that remain clueless, therefore defaulting to scepticism. Until we're proven hopelessly wrong, as usual, at which point we cough and mutter about psynaptic congestion. It's just easier to rubbish things you haven't experienced and just get on with talking smack instead, finishing each other's sentences, whistle the songs currently playing in someone else's head, or pass over the very item the person next to you was about to ask for.
Nottingham-based TimeSplitters developer Free Radical Design has officially unveiled its other project, the aptly named Second Sight, which we're told is now close to completion and should debut worldwide in late 2004 on PS2, Xbox and GameCube. You can see it for yourself thanks to these early screenshots.