VrE Online
Time Commando
from Activision
Time Travel on the Playstation.

Rating : graphics 95, sound 92, interface 89, fun factor 96, overall 93
As Stanley Opar you've never had quite an experience as the one you're in right now. The Historical Tactical Center (HTC) developed new technologies in Tachyon Physics which allowed military personnel to travel back in time for strategic training. Only now you're the one who has been transported back in time. A rival company introduced a Predator virus into the Tachyon computer which entrapped you and other scientists. The virus now threatens your very existence. Starting with only your bare hands you'll have to fight your way through 8 time periods to get to the virus itself and put an end to this temporal nightmare. You must hurry before the virus infects the whole computer for if it does, you're history.

Time Commando In Time Commando you take on the role of Stanley Opar in his battle against time. You'll fight with the weapons of nine different time eras against enemies respective of each. With that many time zones and two parts to each zone plus the final battle against the virus itself there are 19 levels of gamepad frying fun. The graphics in Time Command are good as are the music and sound effects. The interface is simple to learn, but will require time and practice to master. Throw in lots of action and you have a very fun game.

The graphics in Time Commando are very good with a lot of attention to detail. First off, TC is an incredible combination of two completely different technologies blended together seamlessly. Every environment you walk through and every background you see is really a Full Motion Video (FMV). (Because of the hardware decoder, the video is significantly clearer on the Playstation than on the PC version.) The backgrounds are exceptionally detailed and, at times, animated. However, every enemy you fight, every bonus you collect, and Stanley himself are all real-time calculated 3D models moving with fluid life-like motion. The designers went further than just putting a 3D model on a FMV background--the 3D models can walk behind pillars, fences, and walls making the world feel very realistic.

There are a couple minor downsides to the FMV however. The game was designed for the PC first and because of that the FMV is a bit jerky at times. I'm sure the camera movement through the 3D worlds could be smoother on the Playstation but I think the production costs got in the way. The other minor problem with the FMV is the way it makes the game feel--a bit sluggish. Time Commando definitely has a slower pace as you travel from place to place. That all changes, however, when you encounter a saber-toothed tiger in the Prehistoric time era or an infantryman in the Modern Wars ear. Then the action picks up and your pulse quickens as you fervently press those gamepad buttons like there's no tomorrow.

The sound, music, and sound effects are all superb in Time Commando. The music in each time period is based upon a variation of the title theme at the start menu; modified so that it fits the time era. Trying something different, Activision decided not to have the background music playing constantly--and it was a good decision. You start off the game with the current level music. When the song ends, the music stops. You'll still hear the action sounds of Stanley fighting, but there's not tune to get annoying to. At various points throughout the level the music will pick back up again--usually when you stumble across a major enemy. This method works great because you don't get tired of the soundtrack looping forever.

Time Commando The controls in Time Commando can take a little while to get used to but after playing a while you'll be whacking Conquistadors like a pro. When you first start playing it will take a little while to get used to the controls. You see, pressing up on the directional pad always makes Stanley walk forward, down always makes him step backwards; left and right turn him in respective directions. So if you want Stanley to walk to the right side of the screen you must first turn him to face in that direction and then press up to make him jog there. The controls aren't too difficult to master, but those of you out there who've played that Mario game on that other platform will take a little longer to adjust.

Along the same lines as the directional controls, the combat to Time Commando is simple to learn, but can take some time to become a master. Pressing and holding the attack button prepares Stanley for battle; pressing the directional pad will make him attack in one of 3 ways and block. The difficult part is figuring out which weapons are more effective in which enemies. Should you attack the guard with a mace or a sword and shield? When should you attack and when should you block? Most enemies follow a somewhat strict pattern but what do you do when 4 Centurions attack you at the same time?! The action can become quite furious but if you're rally good you'll be able to escape without too many wounds.

There's a lot of variety to be found in Time Commando making it a very interesting and fun game. In your journeys through time you'll get to fight with over 40 different weapons from the very scientifically accurate hand-phaser of the future and the mystically powerful fireballs of Feudal Japan to the brutal razor-club of the Aztecs. After you've conquered the game on the Easy level play it again on the Normal difficulty setting. There will be a few more enemies who are more intelligent and some subtle changes that make the game a real challenge. If you're suicidal you can try the Hard level but you're going to need incredible reflexes and a lot of luck to beat it.

Besides the minor FMV issues mentioned above there are really only two problems with Time Commando. The first is when you search an area--you can't break out of it. So if you accidentally hit the search button Stanley will begin searching the area as a Ninja somersaults towards you. Then he'll take the painful blows as the Asian warrior assaults you. Additionally, if after searching an area turns up nothing Stanley will shrug his shoulders and emit an annoying "Huh?" sound. I'm sure this sound was used to annoy players to such an extent that they would stop searching the level in search of powerups.

Time Commando The major problem with TC is the initial loading time of the game. When you turn on the Playstation you have the required 10 or so seconds of Sony's logo. Then you're forced to sit through not one, not two, but _four_ loading clock screens before you get to the Main Menu. That's ridiculous! Even if you press the Start button as soon as the intro movies begin it's a full THIRTY seconds before you're even given the option of starting the game. That's 30 seconds too long and is completely uncalled for. Thankfully it's only a problem the first time you start the game--once in it takes a fraction of the time to load up the next level.

Time Commando is a 3D tour-de-force action game. Seamlessly combining two disparate technologies together to make a game that's fun to play, Activision has come up with a winner. The graphics are sharp and beautiful and the realtime models are quick and responsive. The sound and music are both a treat to listen to (except for the "Huh?" sound). The interface is easy to learn making combat almost second nature. Time Commando deserves all the accolades it gets.

-- Louis Stice
-- louis@psyber.com

Players: 1Password: Yes
Memory Card: Yes, 1 BlockLink-Up: No
ESRB Rating: Teens-Adults

Front Door

Copyright VrE Online & Southern Cross Multimedia 1996. No portion of this review may be copied or reproduced in any manner without prior written permission from VrE Online. All product and company names are Copyright & Trademark their respective owners.