TimeSplitters Retro Roots

Like many of you I’ve been trapped inside due to the coronavirus lockdown for over a month now. I feel it’s time to take a long needed break from development of The Flawless: Art’s Tale and get all nostalgic about a PlayStation 2 classic… The original TimeSplitters by Free Radical and Eidos.

Check out ‘ Timesplitters 1 PS2 – Longplay 100%’ by Loopy Longplays


During my second year studying Biology at university I blew a portion of my student loan and summer work money on the recently launched PS2. I remember it arriving and I eagerly jumped on the bus to the nearest Game store to pick up a game. There really wasn’t much out at the time and the 3 games which I bought were new franchises and could easily have been terrible. The games were Shadow of Memories, The Summoner, and Time Splitters. All three were brilliant games but Time Splitters was the game I returned to time and time again.

A duck? One of the crazy characters from TimeSplitters

I never owned a Nintendo 64 and played Golden Eye at a friend’s house. The game was absolutely amazing both in terms of the challenging single player and the frantic 4 player death matches. No shooter came close to this game until TimeSplitters. TimeSplitters offered that fast paced challenging gameplay and fun filled 4-player death matches (if you had a multi-tap) that I had been longing for since resigning as Bond. The game forced you to master the controls and map the levels in your head. It was unforgiving and in order to unlock all the characters you had to play, die, learn, and rinse and repeat.


Completing some of the ‘Story Mode’ levels on hard was ridiculous. It required learning the position of every enemy and knowing the levels inside out. The enemy AI was relentless and really forced you to get good fast or die. I never fully understood the game’s story but it was something to do with objects in various times and locations that the ‘evil’ time splitters (strange zombie like monsters) wanted. You would run through a level, shooting anything that moved searching for the object. Once you found the object you had to get it to the exit but that was made harder by loads of time splitters warping in around you. Each Story Mode level that you completed within the time limit unlocked a new character or cheat usable in the multiplayer.

Behead the Undead challenge in TimeSplitters on PS2

Once you’d completed ‘Story Mode’ ‘Challenge Mode’ unlocked. This mode was a set of crazy challenges such as throwing a certain number of bricks through windows in a time limit. It was great fun and one of my favourite challenges was ‘Behead the Undead’ which is pretty self explanatory. The ‘Arcade mode was where the multiplayer action was at. I’d often borrow a friends multi-tap and play 4 player death matches with my uni buddies. It brought back memories of 4-player Golden Eye from an even more retro era.


As a game developer I learnt a lot from TimeSplitters. TimeSplitters creates fun challenging gameplay taking the focus off the story. This is something I did with Space Blaster. Although Space Blaster is a lot smaller than TimeSplitters I still added loads of challenges. The challenges force the player to learn the game in the ‘play, die, learn cycle’. Some might say that other games in the TimeSplitter series are better games. I would probably agree in some ways. But TimeSplitters is where it all started, it kept it simple. It focused on gameplay and clever challenges. That is what kept me coming back for ‘just one more go’, and that is what I absolutely loved about it.


Well I’m off to continue developing the The Flawless: Art’s Tale. To keep up to date with everything BKD join the Discord or follow us on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.


#SMSBSp  #RetroRoots

Ste Wilson is a director, game developer, and programmer at Bare Knuckle Development Ltd. When not coding away on BKD games he can be found playing video games on console and PC. He also makes music under the music maker name of ‘Electric Fan Death’ and loves playing guitar, writing tunes, and producing music.

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