Make It A (Virtual) Reality: Time Crisis
Virtual reality is missing Time Crisis - and Namco should bring it back
By now it is no surprise that first-person shooters (FPS) are some of the more popular virtual reality (VR) titles on the market. They offer simple immersion and give players the chance to use interesting and powerful weapons in locations they can only dream of. Titles such as Farpoint put players on an alien planet, Bravo Team offers intense co-op firefights and Gunheart has endless arcade fun. But there is a different shooter that is long overdue making a return and VR could be the right place for it. I’m talking about Time Crisis.
Developed by Namco, the first Time Crisis title was released back in December 1995 and has been an arcade classic ever since. A number of the entries in the series were released on home consoles but nothing ever beat that rush that came from standing at the arcade machine and knowing each life was a physical coin you had spent. It was a title that defined the childhood of many gamer’s but has become more than a memory in recent years. The last entry in the series was Time Crisis 5: True Mastermind back in August 2015. Though you can still find these gems in what few arcades remain, the on-rails shooter action that came from them is nearly all but a long lost genre.
Now there are many titles that offer a similar experience or try to capture the feeling of Time Crisis but nothing has quite hit the mark yet. You have your on-rails shooters, you have your cover systems, you even have titles that try to have the same ‘reload’ sound but still, even as VR continues to become home to many amazing titles Namco seem to have no interest in bringing the series to the platform when it would be an ideal fit.
The first Time Crisis sets up the story and action in a quick cutscene and with next to no downtime before putting you in the world – gun in hand – ready to save Rachel MacPherson. Stand up to shoot enemies duck behind cover to avoid fire and reload. Simple enough gameplay systems that have been proven to work in VR already. Of course, movement is automatic in these titles which could be an issue for some in VR due to motion sickness. So how can this be sorted? Easy. When the player needs to move simply allow them to look at the location and click to being the movement. Titles like Gal*Gun VR do this by providing an outline of the player at the locations they can move to. It would be the ideal solution to handle movement in a Time Crisis VR title while still giving players a reason to look around them in full 360-degrees.
In fact, in later entries in the series players could point their gun to the edge of the screen to turn left or right. This allowed for scenes to offer more challenge by having enemies approach from three different directions. Again, this could easily translate to VR with a simple visual or audio warning before then having the enemies start attacking. Even the bullet time segments and cover swapping from Time Crisis 5: True Mastermind could be brought over to give it a bit of a modern makeover. Of course, if Namco was to bring the series to VR it would be better for them to offer that nostalgia that came from earlier titles. Keep it nice and simple.
So with so many VR titles doing similar things to the Time Crisis series, why should Namco bring the title to the platform? That answer lies in the design. Though titles have been able to capture some of the feeling they haven’t got it just quite right and that is because none have yet captured the visual and audio design that made these videogames so memorable. I’m talking about the names of the characters, names like Giorgio Bruno and Richard Miller. The word ‘reload’ being yelled at you every time you have an empty clip. The scream enemies made when they fell off something. All of that, complete with the heavy gun sounds that each weapon made, was the DNA of Time Crisis and to this day is why they are still some of the best arcade games out there.
Namco might be reluctant to bring Time Crisis back and other developers might be on the right track, but nothing has quite hit the mark just yet. For that, Namco will need to surprise us with a new entry in the series that keeps to its roots all while leveraging the immersive power of VR. Sure, it is a dream that most likely will never come true but who knows. Maybe we’ll get to battle Wild Dog one more time. If it does happen VRFocus will be sure to bring you all the latest.