It’s been nearly three years since any news of the TimeSplitters revival and with today’s gaming market awash with unfinished games and wallet-pillaging day one DLC, the industry desperately needs Cortez and the ‘Splitters to set things right.
TimeSplitters was developed by Free Radical Design, a team made up of several members of Rare, and the driving force behind 1997’s N64 epic, Goldeneye. Releasing three years after 007’s epic, TimeSplitters featured a story set in locations spanning more than 100 years, from the historical to the futuristic. It was a game packed with features, it had a fantastic story mode playable solo or co-operatively with a friend; a four-player ‘Arcade’ mode for those wanting to show their friends just how good it was to be a giant duck in a fire-fight, and a challenge mode unlocked after the story. This gave the game a longer life span than most FPS of the time. Raved about by critics and gamers alike with metacritic awarding it an 88/100, it was pretty certain the game would get a sequel with bigger levels, crazier characters, and even more outlandish challenges.
And that’s just what followed! TimeSplitters 2 released to even more positive reviews, besting the previous games metacritic score with a 91/100. TimeSplitters 2 was bigger, better and had more packed into the game than ever before. Now featuring LAN play in the PS2 and Xbox versions, the game was one of the first to utilize System Link, a primitive version of network play allowing up to 16 players to play together. TimeSplitters 2 also included a MapMaker that gave players the chance to create their very own Arcade or Story maps.
After the success of the first two games, EA got involved and published TimeSplitters: Future Perfect to yet another positive reception from fans. The game featured a heavier plot focusing on Sergeant Cortez, a space marine on a mission to stop a mad scientist named Jacob Crow from creating the TimeSplitters race. Cortez would jump to different points in time searching for TimeSplitters and the Time Crystals, the main weapons in their quest to destroy humanity. The story was well written with plenty of humour and entertaining scenarios but as with all TimeSplitters games, the best way to play was with your friends. This game introduced even more characters, maps, and weapons to unlock as well as new multiplayer modes to mess around with. Future Perfect was a masterpiece of multiplayer gaming and at the time it seemed this series was never going to stop providing more and more games for fans to love but with Cortez’s victory over the TimeSplitters came a full stop for the series.
Due to a low sales performance from Future Perfect, the idea of a 4th TimeSplitters became a very hard one to sell to publishers. In June 2007, series creater David Doak announced that another game was in development for next generation consoles but according to Rob Yescombe, the scriptwriter to the previous games, the systems they were developing the game for were “unsigned at the moment.” For the next year there was not much from Free Radical or its members on TimeSplitters 4 besides a few images released of the series-staple Monkeys parodying games of like Gears of War and Halo.
Hopes of a sequel to Future Perfect were dashed in December 2008, when it was announced that Free Radical Design would be going into liquidation. Crytek, the studio behind Crysis came to Free Radicals rescue and bought the company, renaming it Crytek UK. A few months later Crytek UK officially announced that development of TimeSplitters 4 was on hold, creating uncertainty in the series survival. Talk of the game was scarce for the following years with the only real news being that Crytek UK were discussing with publishers about whether releasing TimeSplitters 4 was the right move to make at the time.
In June 2011, rumours began circulating of a Microsoft/Crytek collaboration for PS3 and Xbox 360 but was quickly quashed by a statement from Crytek denying any involvement with Microsoft with no comment made towards TimeSplitters 4. A month later Official PlayStation Magazine claimed that Crytek would soon be announcing the new TimeSplitters but this was put to rest a year later with a statement from Crytek spokesperson, Cevat Yerli, “Look, I wish we were working on it. The thing with TimeSplitters is, if we made a sequel to TimeSplitters, nobody would accept this apart from some fans, and we don’t know how big the fan community is unfortunately.”
And with that, TimeSplitters 4 entered gaming limbo and became nothing more than something hushed quietly at the watercooler around the Crytek offices. The once vibrant series was left to exist in a persistent state of ‘please’ and ‘no’ from consumer to developer, depriving fans of their much needed gun-wielding Monkey medicine.
However, on November 29th 2012, news broke that a group of hardcore fans alongside some original members of Free Radical Design, were given permission to create a TimeSplitters mod for PC. Crytek gave the go ahead for the team to create TimeSplitters Rewind, a game intended to be a pseudo-TimeSplitters 4 with brand new content mixed with elements from the original trilogy, all developed on CryEngine 3. Initially, Crytek didn’t pay much attention to the creation of the mod but with a 75,000-strong petition from players they gave the project their blessing and made their own contribution to the cause, allowing the team to build upon original assets from the series so as to preserve the feel and look of the original TimeSplitters series.
TimeSplitters Rewind is an ambitious project with team manager, Michael Hubicka, pushing to include each of the series single-player campaigns as well as all multiplayer maps, characters and challenges from the original trilogy. As of today, details on the mods production are light with the only real information released being a few character images as well as a few fly-throughs of two finalized maps, Castle and Compound.
This rollercoaster ride has been close to one decade long for fans like myself, and its fantastic to see people coming together to continue a series that so many love. However, with TimeSplitter Rewind functioning on a purely voluntary basis, some members only being able to spend 5 hours a week due to other commitments, it may still be some time before we can see Calamari and the Handyman duke it out again.
If you’d like to contribute to the production of Rewind then you can always donate to the team and help them get this off the ground quicker than it currently is. Alternatively, you can always visit the 100,000 Strong for TimeSplitters 4 Facebook page and show your support with the minor price of a signature.
What do you think of TimeSplitters Rewind? Are you as eager as I am to see the return of Monkey curling? Let us know your opinion in the comments below! Better yet, let us know your favourite character select quote and you’ll win my appreciation!
“Someones pinched me winkles!”