I learned about Time Crisis years ago, in the same way that most other gamers stumbled upon it: while waiting for a movie to start at a local theater. Time Crisis is a recognizable "on-rails" shooter that has made its home in arcades around the world, and the series has also seen its fair share of console versions. The latest in the franchise, Time Crisis: Razing Storm, is a PS3 collection that bundles Time Crisis: Razing Storm with the arcade versions of Time Crisis 4 and Deadstorm Pirates.
The Razing Storm collection makes use of the PlayStation Move technology, and the Move implementation works well. Wherever you point on the screen, the cursor is sure to follow. Unfortunately, these three games that are built around this idea of "point and shoot" are all pretty awful. Although I occasionally had fun blasting away terrorists, mainly with a friend, Time Crisis: Razing Storm is not at all worth the asking price.
All three games in the collection have stories, but they're worthless. They generally involve high-tech soldiers, terrorists, overacting, and biological weapons known as "Terror Bites." In the case of Deadstorm Pirates, players will be hunting for some treasure with the help of their Golden Guns. In other words: don't look to Time Crisis: Razing Storm for a gripping narrative.
In almost every mode across the three games, all you need to do is point at the screen with your PlayStation Move controller and pull the trigger to shoot. Movement is all scripted, so players can focus on unloading clip after clip to save the United States (or find magic treasure, depending on the game). Gamers have very different reactions to the idea of being on-rails. I personally prefer having more control than less control, but an on-rails shooter can still be entertaining if it's well designed.
Razing Storm itself has a full story mode that plays like a first-person shooter. In this mode, players can control character movement and shooting, but playing with a Move controller is terrible. Pointing to the edge of the screen will cause the camera to rotate, but this control method just didn't feel right. It didn't have the fluidity you need for precision shots.
Furthermore, there are pre-designated cover points marked by glowing green arrows all around the game world. Players need to position themselves perfectly at these points, and then point the Move controller upwards to enter cover. Pointing back down will pop the hero out of cover and allow players to shoot.
This system is atrocious and extremely unreliable. Sometimes I would be close to death and desperate to enter cover, but I just couldn't nudge my character into the sweet spot that would even allow me to take cover in the first space. Once I did find that spot, pointing upwards would often cause my character to look up as opposed to duck down. "Frustrating" is an appropriate word here.
The story mode of Razing Storm is more tolerable when played with a DualShock, but looking around and aiming are still done separately. Players can use the d-pad to move the cursor around the screen and the analog stick to look around as you would in any other FPS. Changing cursor orientation isn't usually necessary, so this awkward scheme didn't get in my way too much. However, it still felt unneeded -- more of a step backwards for FPS controls than anything else.
This four-stage campaign is the only part of the Razing Storm collection that will take longer than an hour to beat. Everything else, including the arcade version of Razing Storm, will take less than an hour at most. Considering the price of the game, the amount of content provided is lacking.
Razing Storm has other modes designed to elongate the experience, but they're just not enough. The online multiplayer has a terribly small community around it, as only 200 or so players have been ranked on the leaderboards. This game has been on store shelves for about a week now, so these numbers are not encouraging.
The other titles included in the package have an equal number of problems. Time Crisis 4 is shockingly difficult, as avoiding oncoming fire is occasionally impossible to do unless you have the specific instances memorized. Deadstorm Pirates is much more balanced and it felt like the most polished offering overall, but it can still be beaten in a single sitting.
Ultimately, I didn't have much fun with any of the titles included in this collection. The Move might be accurate when it comes to on-screen cursor control, but the games themselves didn't give me a thrill or a sense of accomplishment. It can get somewhat enjoyable when you're playing with a friend and laughing at the absurdity of the story, but as a solo experience Razing Storm is hollow.
Even though Time Crisis: Razing Storm features three different on-rails shooters, the content in this package isn't worth checking out. All three games are embarrassingly short, there's little replay value in the campaigns, and the main story mode of Razing Storm is painful to play with a Move controller. Leave this one on the shelf, because no one should have to be this frustrated at something with Terror Bites in it.