Every console generation seems to have its defining FPS, the SNES era had Doom, the N64 had Goldeneye and the PS2 had TimeSplitters 2. In many ways TimeSplitters 2 simply took everything that was good about FPS games like Goldeneye and Perfect Dark and built upon it to create what is for me one of the great FPS games of all time.
The story is simple but fits the arcadey feel of the game perfectly. In the 24th century Sergeant Cortez must travel back in time to find the time crystals that are required to stop the TimeSplitters which are gradually wiping out mankind. From the time machine equipped space station you choose your level, each one features a different ancestor of Cortez's and is set in a different year. You begin with Siberia in the 90s and the whole thing seems like a nod to Goldeneye. Other missions take you to 1920s Chicago, a 23rd century Robot Factory, an Amazonian jungle and the Wild West. Each level is varied, fun and well designed and all of the characters, including yours, are designed brilliantly. The story is simple but it works perfectly and allows for such an amazing variety of settings that really can't be rivalled by any other game.
The gameplay fits the arcade style perfectly. It's clearly a natural evolution from games like Goldeneye and Perfect Dark but don't think it features the same level of varied objectives. All of the levels bar one are about gunning people down. There is one level which involves some stealth but that's it. Don't think for a second that I'm saying this is a bad thing, it suits the game perfectly and never gets boring. Most guns have two firing modes and there are plenty of different weapon types. You get your usual health and body armour and then you just go mental. This same philosophy is carried into the multiplayer. There are the standard deathmatch and capture the flag types but there are also more inventive types such as a mode where one person is on fire and must set all the others on fire. In the multiplayer mode you can play as numerous characters across numerous levels and numerous game types. You unlock these characters, maps and game modes in the arcade leagues.
The arcade leagues feature three separate leagues (each harder than the last) and each features a set of missions that are essentially multiplayer matches, some team based, some not. Each features goals to meet and allows you to earn medals from bronze to gold. If you get a gold then you can unlock new characters, maps and/or game modes depending on the match you were playing. You can also create custom arcade leagues should you wish to create some of your own challenges.
The variety of characters on offer is fantastic, thanks largely to the variety of settings and time periods. From robots to Amazonian Queens to mobsters, monkeys and maniacs, the character list covers all conceivable bases and provides some hilarious match ups for the multiplayer games.
On top of all of this you also have a map editor which allows you to create your own scenarios and then play them. It's a very cool feature but I have to confess I've not yet gotten to grips with it. It isn't the most complicated editor that I've used but I have used many that are far more simple. Regardless of complexity it pays to learn how to use it because it can be great fun to create your own maps and game scenarios.
Without a doubt TimeSplitters 2 is the single greatest FPS available on the PS2.Its brilliantly unique and packed full of amazing features. Though its sequel, Future Perfect, came close to it no other FPS from that generation can come close to it. You might think that's a pretty bold claim but give the game a go and you'll see what I mean and if you look up the amount of fan demand for an HD remake and a new entry in the series, you'll see how believed and respected this game is.