TimesplittersGoldeneye changed the direction of console first person shooter games. While there had been good console FPS games in the past, Goldeneye established a foundation of fun multiplayer and an intuitive control scheme. Who didn’t enjoy spending weekends huddled around their TV with 3 of their friends shooting each other up? When several of the original developers broke off to form their own company, Free Radical, and began work on a PS2 FPS game, many believed that good things would happen. They were right. The company’s first entry, Timesplitters was one of the best launch-window PS2 games, and its multiplayer managed to surpass Goldeneye in terms of sheer variety and fun.

Timesplitters places players in the shoes of various heroes throughout the ages as they do battle with a mysterious race of mutants known as the Timesplitters. You’ll begin in 1930s Egypt, travel to Chinatown in the 70s, and you’ll even travel towards the distant future. Rather than the hyper realistic graphics of most FPS titles, Timesplitters has a cartoonish art style, and there is very little blood and gore (although a few women characters are quite scantily clad The campaign mode (which you can play co-op) is easily the weakest part of the game. The story is virtually nonexistent, and all you do in each stage is head out to retrieve an object, then bring it back to the starting point while being chased by the Timesplitters. However, the game’s arcade mode is where the game really shines. It allows players to complete challenges, get used to the game’s multiplayer modes, and unlock new maps and characters. The arcade and multiplayer modes are guaranteed to keep Timespliters in your PS2’s tray for months after finishing the Campaign mode.

The game also includes a user-friendly mapmaker, so that players can create their own multiplayer maps. You basically select a motif, lay down room tiles, and you’re ready to go. Throughout the series’ next few entries, the mapmaker’s functionality had been expanded, and by the third entry, Future Perfect, players were able to create story mode single player missions and share them online. This helped pave the way for more user-generated content in console games.

Before Halo burned up Xbox Live, Timesplitters helped bring buddies together so that they could blast each other to pieces, and its sequels improved on the formula. Sadly, the status of the franchise is up in the air as Free Radical was absorbed into Crytek after 2008’s Haze, a flop of epic proportions. Long before their premature demise, Free Radical shown a teaser for Timesplitters 4. Hopefully they will be able to proceed, because I’m ready to see what they can do on current generation hardware.