Well, here’s an interesting take on the spirit of entrepreneurship in this massively competitive marketplace: take a five year old arcade game that supports a proprietary peripheral (say that 10 times fast), keep it relatively short and stock it with little replay value, and charge full MSRP ($49.99) as if it really were a new title. Time Crisis: Crisis Zone really isn’t a bad title, for what it is, but it should have been released at a much more attractive price point. Unfortunately, for those of you that have a Guncon 2, you’re a captive audience and Namco knows it.
The story line is the all too familiar shoot everything in front of you and progress on rails until the grand finale. You’ll shoot the usual fare of grenade throwers, body armor protected protagonists, and "boss" elements such as tanks. A stagnant genre that appeals to a niche audience with a niche peripheral and the road that gets you there seems very, very familiar.
The ducking mechanic (shield), which is one of the Time Crisis staple differences, is present once again. Utilizing this can empower the user to avoid being hit by nearly anything in the game, including the aforementioned tanks, if used correctly. Heck, you can even avoid a ton of bombs dropped from overhead. Nice shield. Just make sure that you duck in between missions for added protection and you’ll find the game easy enough to get through rather quickly, via using the standard Dual Shock controller, a Guncon 2, or you can even use two Guncon 2’s simultaneously if you want to exercise your weaker hand.
To its credit, Crisis Zone does use its environments effectively and you’ll soon realize that nearly everything can be shot, damaged, broken, or otherwise brutalized. Curiously enough, the stuff that you shoot and destroy is brillantly visualized, yet the enemies that you mow down wave after wave miraculously disappear into thin air so you don’t have to worry about tripping over their dead bodies. Hmm. Your enemies have bars above their heads so you know exactly how much more it’ll take to bring them down, which serves to further enunciate how straightforward this title is.
Obviously, it’s an arcade shooter, so the game play elements are very simplistic and easy to pick up immediately. There aren’t many, if any, strategic elements to the title other than trying to vanquish your enemies as quickly as possible before progressing to the next "area" with as little damage as possible. Namco has done the usual excellent job of converting the now venerable coin-op to the PS2.
Truth be told, Crisis Zone isn’t a bad game. But, like this review, it’s too short to warrant its sticker price and is suitable only as rental fodder for those that happen to own Guncon 2’s. The genre hasn’t progressed and one could effectively argue that this installment is actually a step back from Time Crisis 3. And that as they say, is that.