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Time Crisis 4 Hands On

One of the most successful and popular franchises in the light gun game genre, Time Crisis, is making its current generation debut. Namco Bandai Games is bring its latest arcade hit exclusively to the PlayStation 3 this fall. With a GunCon to boot.

One of the biggest technical features that long-time fans of the series will love to know is that Time Crisis 4 will be compatible with any display type. Be it a CRT, a flat-panel LCD or plasma set, a rear-projection display or even a projector, Time Crisis 4 will work. Rather than having the gun take a snapshot of the screen, the GunCon 3 setup utilizes two sensors that you place atop your display and the gun then reads them to know where it's pointing. The sensors are small I/O squares, maybe an inch or two in length.

The GunCon 3 itself comes bundled with many new features, including the ability to sense forward and backward movement, along with a small amount of tilting. These movements will play a part in the some of the weapons, though specifics here are being kept under wraps as it sounds like some of the secret unlockable weapons will make the most use of it.

Aside from that, the GunCon 3 also features two analog sticks that you can use in Time Crisis 4. Working like a realistic first-person shooter, one stick will control your movement while the other will control the camera. You can then use the gun to shoot anything on-screen. Namco Bandai said that it hopes other developers will make use of this ability and implement it into their own shooters.

The analog sticks will also play a role in the main mode of the game where you'll use them to choose a path or use them to focus. For instance, one section we saw had the player on his back and having to take out a massive amount of swarming beetle-like bugs. The player could swap between looking forward, left and right on the fly, and swapping between views was required to keep the thousands of bugs at bay.

The game's action is definitely more complex than last games. We had four weapons to start off with in our first level, including a shotgun a machine gun in addition to our standard pistol. Changing weapons is, sadly, not real time switch. We had to duck behind cover and pull the trigger to change our weapons. At some points, you'll actually have to defend more than one front at a time. For example, in one section we reached a two side hallway. We utilized a box for cover in the corner and had to fight off enemies coming at us down both passages. To control which way we were looking, we simply had to aim the GunCon offscreen in the direction we wanted to turn. With the analog sticks method, the flexibility and ease in performing swerves and turns becomes common nature. And thanks to the two square sensors on the television screen, we aren’t subject to a wired controller I/O, which adds a lot of freedom to the gameplay.

This main mode is definitely very similar to what we've seen in past Time Crisis titles. Any of the buttons on the GunCon can be used to peek from behind your cover, and you simply move from one spot to the other as you take out enemies. However, there are some welcome additions too. For example, the flashlight that you'll have attached to your gun during some levels can easily be turned on with a side step button. Using the gun's sensors, it points on the screen wherever you point your gun, allowing you to light up specific areas as you like.

Aside from part of the game taking place in a cave and another part in an office, Namco Bandai is not giving much out on the core story or setting details. We were told it had something to do with the government and a security crisis. Somewhat similar to Live Free or Die Hard. Or maybe exactly like Die Hard 4? Time Crisis 4…Die Hard 4…it’d make sense!

Time Crisis 4 looks like it's upholding the series' gameplay with well defined levels, improved AI and graphics, as well as the core structure of gameplay and GunCon. Namco Bandai is definitely doing some work to improve the game's visuals on the PS3. Don’t be fooled by the screenshots. This game is definitely more impressive than the screens and does display some of the PlayStation 3’s API coding to its advantage. In addition, it will run in 720p resolution, though we didn’t get an answer when we asked about the possibility of 1080p.

Time Crisis 4 will hit store shelves this fall exclusively for the PlayStation 3.