the few impressive moments involving mechs and power armour are pissed away in the sheer ridiculousness of the dialogue
peej about Time Crisis: Razing Storm
On opening the game box for Time Crisis: Razing Storm I think I detected the faint whiff of Brut 33. This is a man's game, in fact if games could have chest hair this game would look something like a coconut-husk doormat.
Namco's latest Time Crisis offering supports just about any control method you care to name, including the new Playstation Move motion controllers. Thankfully though, you can use your old G-Con controllers on it too, but I chose to grasp the nettle and use my glowing lollipops (making sure the curtains were closed first in case any low-flying aircraft mistook my machinations with the things as late landing instructions on a dark and stormy night).
What you get with Razing Storm is not one but three steak-flavoured thick-cut-chip chunks of gaming to wrap your namby pamby and feeble pectoral muscles around. We'll leave the main game to one side for a moment and look at each of the three games separately as they are all distinctly different.
Yar harr, yo ho!
First up is a version of one of Namco's lesser known arcade light gun games, Deadstorm Pirates. For a moment I thought I'd slipped back in history - no, not because of the game's setting but because this game demanded a (*^$*&%^$) ten minute install before you got a whiff of the action. Remember those happy early days of Playstation 3 ownership? Of course you do, so while I sat around waiting for the thing to do its business I instantly had it in mind that the whole package would get a measly 1 out of 5 stars purely for putting me through this ignominy.
Once the game data is installed (and you'll struggle to work out exactly why such a simple game needs one in the first place) you're put in charge of a rolling ship, under attack by a brace of undead pirate mercenaries. Armed with a flintlock pistol (that actually handles and feels exactly like an Uzi 9mm and reloads with the same speed, thankfully) you're soon blasting the hell out of the zombie pirates.
See, for all my moans about the lengthy install of this, it does have Zombie Pirates. if there were space monkeys in it too, that would probably have eradicated the bitter taste of a forced install entirely.
Deadstorm Pirates throws a lot of different gameplay elements into the usual mundane shooting, and for that it's actually something of a success. If you've never seen the original arcade cabinet, it's certainly worth checking this out as it's one of the better things about the entire package as a whole.
"Quick, say something dramatic before the next scene!"
"Oh my god, the bastards are using nanotechnology!" - Is that dramatic enough? Probably not, but in Time Crisis 4, the second game I looked at in the Razing Storm bundle, there are plenty of bizarre phrases like that being thrown about.
Faced with a choice of two characters who wouldn't be out of place in a Scissor Sisters video, Time Crisis 4 kicks off on dubious ground but is actually one of the better arcade outings in the series, only surpassed by Crisis Zone, in my humble opinion.
Time Crisis 4 feels like a classic no-nonsense light gun game with a few neat twists to lift it above the norm. Polishing up the (by now rather) antiquated Arcade Cabinet graphics with all new reworked visuals, this home version of TC4 looks and feels ten times better than the arcade version. Featuring the same weapon swapping and intense action as the cabinet, this is a game that's immensely enjoyable as long as you remember to disengage your brain and glue it firmly to your trigger finger.
Thankfully unlike Deadstorm Pirates there's no need for a lengthy install with this one. The game is quick to set up (this time I opted for a G-Con 3 as this is a "proper" gun game) and again it's pinpoint accurate.
As each scene progresses, you barely have time to draw breath as there's so much to see (and shoot) before the inevitable face offs against gigantic bosses strewn with weak points. Sure, Time Crisis 4 is formulaic but it definitely feels like the result of Namco's arcade teams refining the light gun game to its nadir. Personal preferences aside (as I said earlier, I'd give house room to a fully working and polished up Crisis Zone cabinet before this) this is easly one of Namco's most technically accomplished arcade shooters and the home version is every bit as good. Definitely the high point of the whole package.
And so, to the weakest part of the collection and it's ironic that it's the game that most will be buying this compilation for. Time Crisis: Razing Storm feels like something that was slapped together in a couple of hours by a bunch who spent the majority of the game's development cycle playing paintball or shooting each other with nerf guns in their plush offices at Namco HQ rather than thinking about a successful direction to take the Time Crisis brand in.
Razing Storm is extremely short and wholly unremarkable. Throwing away the strong foundations of its predecessors in exchange for cheap thrills and very little bang for your buck, you can get through the entire game in one sitting solo or co-op and probably never revisit it again. With its Modern Theatre War setting spliced together with a bunch of dubious cyber-terrorism as a sub-plot, the few impressive moments involving mechs and power armour are pissed away in the sheer ridiculousness of the dialogue. It's like the game's channeling Henno Garvey on speed. Playing this standing up in your living room makes you twitch uncontrollably, makes you want to utter extremely trite action phrases like "Stand tall man, pick your targets!" or "Oh man, Alpha team just bought it, game over man, game over!"
Of course, game over comes far quicker than you might expect because Razing Storm is so short and flimsy that you have to wonder why Namco bothered at all with it. Bonus modes and a tiny little branching storyline at the end aside, Razing Storm feels like wasted effort, particularly alongside the far superior Time Crisis 4.
In conclusion, Move early adopters aren't exactly going to be short of shoot 'em up thrills to try with their new 'lectric lollipops but there are a few meagre pickings of fun to be had from this compilation. With Deadstorm Pirates and Time Crisis 4 offering far more by way of content and enjoyment than Razing Storm itself, it's an oddity that shows Namco will have to perform minor miracles if they're ever to revisit the light gun genre again and once again make it their own.