Sparks of purple electricity appeared in our skies last month, with reports of violent cartoon monkeys raining down. It can mean only one thing: Free Radical, the developer of noughties console shooter TimeSplitters, has appeared from a hole in the year 2005 to announce a new TimeSplitters game. Good news for fans of multiplayer gingerbread men (ie. me). Bad news for anyone embarrassed to remember how many TimeSplitters characters danced around in their undies (hello it's me again). Anyway, here are 13 levels I'd like to see in the new time-travelling gun game, the title of which I have correctly guessed below.
The Vatican, 897
In the dark heart of Europe's most Italian country, a trial is taking place in which the Pope, Stephen number six, is pressing serious charges against the previous Pope, Formosus number one. Unfortunately for the lawyers involved, Formosus is dead. The Papal Steve does not consider this a problem, and demands his predecessor's body be exhumed, dressed up, and put on the stand to defend himself as a corpse. This actually happened and was called the Cadaver Synod. Enter the player of TimeSplitters: A Cross Time, who bounces Quantum Leap style into the rotting corpse of Formosus. "I plead: not guilty," you shout, whipping out an AK-47 and mowing down the entire conclave in one swoop of rotting justice. That's a good level.
The Philippines, 1521
Ferdinand Magellan has landed on Mactan Island in the Philippines as part of his circumnavigation of the globe. But the people who live there all agree this European is an incredible asshat. What follows is the Battle of Mactan, a harsh fight on a beach where the player finds themselves in TimeSplitters: Past Progressive. I'll let you choose what side you're on. But consider this: of the 270 men who left Spain with Ferdy, only 18 make it back to their home country alive. Magellan will not be among them, having been soundly killed by Lapulapu, a chieftain and subsequent Filipino hero. So next time someone asks who was the first person to circumnavigate the globe, you can say: "18 sailors who were not Ferdinand Magellan".
The internet, 2999
You just jumped from the year 2000 to the year 2999, and you've brought the millenium bug with you. Oh no! The complacent digital world of the future was not ready. The Council of Elder Bots is outraged. It has charged you with having a mouth and other organs. To escape digitised confinement in TimeSplitters: Meme Streets, the player must shoot anti-human Captchas and find a suitable place to jack out. That's a good level.
Caligula's party boat, 39 AD
Haha, Caligula, what's he like? Here he comes, Emperor of Rome, demanding a bridge made of boats across the Bay of Baiae because he wants to ride his horse from one port to another rather than take the ferry. The shootist of TimeSplitters: Roman Through Time is thrust onto the party pontoon, a bonkers feat of engineering and logistics which will result in several deaths, and not all of them from the player's shortsword. Caligula is as unsound as a vacuum and makes a grand final baddie, sitting high on his barge throne. That's a good level.
Your flat, 2020
In TimeSplitters: Clockdown, the player will be confined to a single apartment. There's a washing machine. There's a laptop with a constant feed of increasingly trashy TV shows. That's a … well, it's a level.
Baghdad House Of Wisdom, 1258
The greatest city of the Islamic Golden Age is under siege. It's the bloody Mongols, would you believe it? Well, yes. As a seasoned era-hopper in TimeSplitters: Baghdad To The Future, you have seen the Mongol army everywhere. This time they're in the middle of razing the city's House Of Wisdom, the Dar Al-Hikma, a huge multi-wing library that has been the centre of worldly knowledge for two centuries. Fight in vain as the Mongol's break into the beautiful round city, and escape in a rowboat as the Tigris beneath you runs black with ink from the destroyed books of the library. That's a sad level.
Miscellaneous Europe, 100,000 BC
Neanderthals and modern humans are living in the same world, and that means WAR. Okay, it probably means some competition for resources and interbreeding. But creative license allows players of TimeSplitters: Argumentum Ad Hominin to unleash devastating minigun fire on any number of hairy ancestors armed with dangerous stones.
Colombia, 59 Million BC
The Titanoboa is a 13-metre snake. It does not care to know your name. In fact, all the reptiles of this ancient epoch are massive thanks to the warm climate. Here are just some of the encounters and characters that could appear in TimeSplitters: Temperatures Fugit. A very large turtle. A lizard with a Tommy Gun. A miniboss called "Chronosaurus". This is all good stuff. This is all tolerable stuff.
I don't care what era or country but there should be a dam.
Dyatlov Pass, 1959
In the snowy summits of cold Russia, a group of mountaineers are sleeping soundly when something terrible occurs. A complete mystery, the Dyatlov Pass incident has baffled anyone who learned about it for decades. The victims seemingly left their tents freely (or under duress) and their bodies were found stripped of their clothes at various distances from their camp. In TimeSplitters: Pass Tents, you will uncover the true story behind this mystifying event, and it will be much freakier than the very tiny avalanche researchers are now sure was responsible.
Your level here - Whenever o' clock
The TimeSplitters series has always had a map-making mode included. It would be a sad loss if the new one did not allow you to build a labyrinth of square rooms so you could force your family to play against you in deathmatch mode where only you know all the secret doors.
Kaymakli underground city, Turkey - 800 AD
There is an unnerving amount of underground cities in Anatolia, Turkey. This is just one of them and many of them are connected by miles of tunnels. When the player of TimeSplitters: Time's Coming Up discovers timejuice slowly flooding the ancient city from below, they fight through the Byzantine era in which Christians hid in the city from Arab raids, only to fall in a pit of timejuice and emerge in the 14th century, when the subterranean cities are full of refugees hiding from, let me check… the Mongols!? For heaven's sake.
The solar system, 5.4 Billion AD
The sun is giant and it's about to eat Earth. That's a good level!
One Off The List from…
Last month we trod our weary bones through the 8 creepiest villages in PC games. But you have ordered one of these small settlements rehabilitated. It's… Yaugton from Everybody's Gone To The Rapture.
"I don't think Yaughton could be considered creepy," says 'Sconehenge', surveying the hamlet. "Because were you really allowed access to a deserted pub in England you would [...] not emerge until the snacks went out of date..."
Understood. Also, shoutout to "espivi" who correctly asserted that the foggy Mibu Village from Sekiro also belonged on that list. An egregious oversight. I apologise but I will not resign. See you next time, list goblins.