The VSSE International Intelligence Agency has learned that off the coast of the Mediterranean, the peaceful island of Astigos has come under attack by Zagorian federation troops. General Gorgio Zott, Commander-in-Chief of the Zagorian Army, has launched a unilateral military offensive against Astigos, a territory of the neighboring nation of Lukano. In just a short time the General and his men have taken complete control of the island and in the process taken key members of the Lukano Liberation Force hostage.
Concerned over the motives behind Zott’s strike against Astigos the VSSE launched a deeper investigation, whereupon they learned that the Federation has placed tactical missles in the occupied territory of Astigos capable of striking Lukano and other neighboring Mediterranean countries.
Recognizing the seriousness of the situation, the VSSE has dispatched two of its best agents, Wesley Lambert and Alan Dunaway, to gather additional information on the General’s activities……..But hey, this is Time Crisis and we all know that means GET IN THERE AND UNLEASH HELL ON THOSE S.O.B’s!!
Think back to all the great light-weapon shooters: "Operation Wolf," "Lethal Force," "Revolution," "Narc," "House of the Dead," "Jurassic Park," "Confidential Mission," "Crypt Killer," "Aliens," "Terminator""and not one, NOT ONE, could ever stack up toe-to-toe with Namco’s trademark step-action shooter. That’s why where I’m from, even today, you can still see people lining up to throw quarters into this arcade hit. Delivering intense, fast-paced action and high stake adventures, now Namco has upped their game with their third installment in the series, "Time Crisis 3."
Right off the bat, it’s not hard to see that this game is a graphical masterpiece. I’m talking beautiful coastal scenes, rich 3D interactive environments, decorated military personnel, vehicles, and weapons of mass destruction, all just waiting to be blown to Smithereens.
All those great graphics get tied in with a solid sound engine. Intense explosions, various weapons fire, and crumpling landscapes do much to keep the adrenaline flowing while the background music, which seems to be a remix of old "Soul Calibur" tracks (no complaints here), masterfully rides the action all the way to the climax of each stage. Also worthy of honorable mention are the brilliant voiceovers that compliment all the stars, co-stars, and bosses of the game.
Wesley and Alan get thrown right into the center of the action, but you can tell they’re used to these sort of situations. This time round they’re even more prepared as Namco has implemented a new "Weapon Select System" for them to use at your discretion.
Traditionally, most weapon upgrades in past action-shooters are gained by blowing open boxes, or shooting ammo dropped by a fallen enemy. Well Namco, always on a mission to defy tradition, has done away with the ways of old and armed players with everything they need from the jump. While taking cover from fire and reloading your weapon, via the familiar RELOAD system, you can now select from a variety of weapons to use in battle by making use of the newly added Weapons Select System.
Four weapons, (Handgun, Machine Gun, Shotgun, and Grenade Launcher) are readily available for use. Simply pull the trigger while in the cover position to access your weapon of choice. Feeling in a "Die Hard" mood? Choose the handgun. Wanna do it up "Bad Boys" style? The machine gun’s the tool for you. You got a gift for blowing big holes in things? The shotgun never lets you down. Wanna show Rambo the right way to do it? Use the Grenade launcher to properly demonstrate the ways of destruction. Effective use of weapons during gameplay will increase player’s ability to strategically move through Time Crisis 3.
Even though you’re given immediate access to a massive weapon arsenal, keeping enough ammo on-hand is another task. Since ammo is limited, players will need to target yellow enemy guards to keep their ammunition stock up. For each shot that successfully hits a yellow enemy, they will yield a floating weapon Icon. The ammo stock of the sub-weapon depicted on the surface of the weapon icon will increase each time the weapon icon appears.
Speaking of the enemy, when it comes to battle know-how, these guys are good. If you think you’re gonna’ just walk in and take back their newly overtaken territory, you’re gonna’ find yourself floating face down somewhere in the middle of the Mediterranean. The enemy only employs three distinct attack patterns to take you out with, but I’ll be darned if they don’t pull it off quite well.
Enemy bullets that threaten your character’s life will flash red when they’re fired. Beware of Red enemies as they fire more accurately than other enemies. When they appear, it’s best to take cover immediately and wait for the optimal moment to strike back. In many instances Red enemies suddenly, roll out into view to take a pop shot at you while they’re buddies lay down heavy cover fire for them.
It’s very easy to get distracted by the bullets whizzing past your head, which a lot of times makes you vulnerable to other airborne weapons like hand grenades, knives, flame torches, and heat seeking missiles fired from a distance. The good news is that most weapons thrown or launched by the enemy can be rendered harmless by shooting them.
Finally, if given the opportunity, certain enemies will advance upon your position for close quarters combat, brandishing bladed weapons, such as daggers and hand axes. More than oft, they’re quick and acrobatic, so dodge their attacks by taking cover and firing back when they reset their positions.
Besides a more complex storyline, Time Crisis 3 also includes exclusive multiple gameplay modes to increase the replay value of the game. Once you’ve played through Arcade Mode, you can access the Rescue Mission Mode featuring a new playable character, Alicia Lambert, who happens to be a member of the Lukano Liberation Army. In this mode, the story unfolds around Alicia who seeks to free her brother, Daniel, who was double-crossed and captured by Zagorian forces while carrying out a mission to destroy the tactical missiles on Astigos. Players get a chance to enjoy features like the awesome weapons upgrade and sniper systems.
There’s also a Crisis Mission Mode which allows you to play a variety of missions, each of which has it’s own objective. Outstanding performance on a Crisis mission can earn you a medal. Medals are awarded for high scores and fast clear times, among other things. You can view your medals on the Medal Display screen.
Namco has thrown in a bonus Guncon 2 light gun as an accessory item when you purchase the game. Namco boasts that this is the most accurate gun peripheral out there. Frankly, I’m beginning to believe they are right. Calibration is a snap. All it takes in one shot at the center of the screen and you’re ready to go. I still fire up the ole’ Dreamcast from time to time to play "Confidential Mission." The "Starfire Lightblaster" has to be calibrated by shooting the center, plus the four corners of the screen and even with all those calibration procedures, its performance dulls in comparison to the Guncon 2.
Once calibrated to your liking you can sit just about anywhere around the TV and pull off the same tough shots with tremendous accuracy. Not to mention you can play in just about any type of lighting without taking away from the gun’s performance.
All things said, the bottom is Time Crisis 3 is pretty much a flawless game. The problem is I just can’t see myself giving this game a perfect score, simply due to the fact that its been out on the arcade scenes for a while and the freshness of the title has grown stale as it hits the home console scene. Not to mention that light-weapon shooter genres are far and few on the market, and this game might not receive the warm reception it so much deserves. So I’ll bring this title as close to perfect, without being perfect, as I possibly can with 4 1/2 Gin gems.