Time Crisis Strike

The venerable arcade shooter comes to the iPhone.


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Time Crisis Strike Review

Time Crisis Strike is an on-rails shooter that attempts to bring the fast-paced action of the Time Crisis arcade games (played with a light gun) to the iPhone. As in the arcade version, you don’t control the direction or angle of your viewpoint–all the camera work is taken care of for you. You do, however, swap a lot of bullets with soon-to-be-dead terrorists by tapping all over the screen. There’s lots of enjoyable gunplay in Time Crisis Strike, but we felt that the brevity of the game didn’t match up with its price.

One of the best aspects of the original Time Crisis was the ability to duck behind cover to dodge enemy bullets and reload–this interactive bit separated the game from its more stationary competition and really pushed it over the top. Time Crisis Strike enables dodging by tilting your iDevice forward (by default), and we’re sorry to say something has been lost in the translation. It’s awkward to constantly have to tilt the screen and disrupt your viewing angle in the middle of a firefight, and it’s just not the same thrill it was before.

Time Crisis Strike bears the standard hallmarks of a large-budget game that puts a lot of demands on the system: it’s a bit of a memory and battery hog, with a slow loading screen along the way. The graphics are actually a little blockier and generally less advanced than we thought they might be, but at least you can clearly see your enemies and the frame rate holds up well. Plus, the gameplay screen is tidily organized, which we would take over a heavily detailed but murky mess any day.

The music is pretty abysmal–a struggle between hard rock and electronica that the listener loses–and we felt that the sound effects were a little loud. When we went to turn them down, we found out that our only options to customize the game experience were a difficulty setting (which mostly adjusts the accuracy and frequency of the enemies’ shots) and the direction you tilt to reload. This seems like an oversight; it’s fair to say a lot of iPhone gamers like to choose their own music. We were also unimpressed with the game’s total playtime: for the money here ($5.99), and the big bucks behind this iDevice port, we’d reasonably expect double the content.

Overall, we were a little disappointed with Time Crisis Strike. Given an additional month or two in development, this thing could have been polished up and damned near perfect, but it feels like we got the beta version instead of the actual release. A couple of updates might get the options back to where they should be–music selection, a different reload method, etc.–and perhaps add a little more content as well. As-is, Time Crisis Strike can be entertaining for a short while, but you can do much better for much less… and still be playing after an episode of Robot Chicken.

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Time Crisis Strike Exclusive Hands-On

Unlike some other major console publishers, Namco hasn’t been shy about bringing a good selection of games to the iPhone, most recently Katamari Damacy. Time Crisis is another big Namco franchise making its way to the iPhone–perhaps as soon as next week–in the form of Time Crisis Strike, which subs in the touch screen and accelerometer for the arcade cabinet’s light gun and foot pedal. We were recently able to lay hands on a near-final version of the game, and came away impressed by how naturally its terrorist-shooting gameplay suits the new platform. Details and video within!

Time Crisis Strike isn’t a port of any of the main Time Crisis games, which have appeared in arcades and on various consoles since 1995. It’s an original game that’s most directly comparable to 2006’s Time Crisis Mobile 3D, albeit with far improved graphics and controls.

You play as an elite cop on the trail of the villainous Mad Dog, who has an army of jumpsuit-clad goons at his beck and call. You dispose of these guys by blasting them as they pop out of their hiding spots to fire at you. You simply tap the screen to shoot, while tilting the device slightly forward causes your character to duck behind cover and reload. This renders you invincible, but it also prevents you from firing back. You can’t just hang out behind cover indefinitely, because if you fail to kill all the bad guys on the screen before a timer runs out, you’ll take damage–it’s called Time Crisis for a reason.

The terrorists blaze away at you constantly, but like all expendable extras in action movies, they have terrible aim; most of their shots are yellow-colored, meaning they’re going to miss you. You have to watch out for the occasional red shots, which take away one of your five life boxes if you aren’t behind cover. Some dudes will even chuck hatchets and bombs in your direction, and you can play defense against these by blasting them out of the air. There are big boss fights, too, such as when you go up against a tank at the end of Stage One with your puny sidearm.

Time Crisis Strike is a pretty tough game, even on the Easy setting, where you get two continues. Medium cuts it down to a single continue, and Hard eliminates them entirely; the baddies also take more shots to kill, and become more accurate to boot. In addition to the three-stage Arcade Mode, there are five unlockable Crisis Missions, which challenge you to perform specific tasks. We played one called “Yellow Only,” where you are only allowed to shoot yellow bad guys, and you have to bag a certain number of them in 30 seconds.

Time Crisis Strike is entering Apple’s review process tomorrow, so it could be in the App Store sometime next week, if all goes well. $5.99 is the price.

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