I could probably pad a review of Time Crisis: Razing Storm with a couple hundred words of flowing, waxing nostalgia about how brilliant and significant the original Time Crisis was all those years ago (I have just done it inadvertently - oops), but it would have little bearing on Razing Storm. Instead, it's probably Metal Gear Solid 4 that Namco is riffing off, packing its game with leaping mechs, a washed-out desert future, and sickeningly overbearing melodrama.
Razing Storm's core mechanics hearken back to the late '90s, though, specifically the point in time where Namco's distinct style was vogue as opposed to bland and monotonous. Back then the developer's games were bar-raising technical powerhouses, but we're in late 2010 and Razing Storm would have looked old a few years ago. The brief arcade campaign has a few standout moments, but the overall presentation looks dated and leaves much to be desired.
The most significant problem is not that Razing Storm is a lazy, uninspired mess - which it definitely is - but that Namco has clearly exhausted the creative impetus they had in their glory days. Razing Storm's focus on destructible environments adds a little colour to the levels, but the shooting galleries are pedestrian and unambitious, and the whole game suffers from a disparate campaign of generally middling quality.
Razing Storm also suffers when compared to slicker contemporary productions, such as House of the Dead: Overkill or Dead Space: Extraction. Time Crisis has always been a little hokey in tone, but this takes the proverbial biscuit: alongside the lurid blasting, the game pads out its thin content with wooden voice acting, poor characterisation and a laughable script, though the most pressing problem is the pitiful terrorism-obsessed plot. There's an abundance of grimacing moments, such as when characters discuss their dead wives with all the passion of somebody being asked if they'd like sugar in their tea, and the whole plot feels like it was lifted straight from Hideo Kojima's reject pile.
In an attempt to keep up with the Joneses - and assuming the Joneses cannot get enough of first-person shooters - Namco has also added a Story mode, repeating the mistakes it made with Time Crisis 4. Here you use the Navigation controller (or a DualShock 3) to steer your path while aiming and shooting with the Move. It's an absolutely dire stab at pseudo-FPS action, with completely broken controls, more excruciatingly long cutscenes and some truly uninspired level design. It's hard to fathom how such an unremittingly awful mode ever came to be, and I can only suspect some kind of demonic involvement.
A drab, lifeless and lag-riddled multiplayer mode rounds off the package, allowing you to communally enjoy the suffering with random strangers. Namco tries to spice up the mix with a standard selection of perks, but the mix of unimaginative map design and wonky controls makes it particularly unappealing. It's clearly evidence of some Japanese businessmen going through the checklist of what they imagine a Western audience wants to see, but even the most devout of Time Crisis fanatics will find the experience thoroughly unpalatable.
In the pack you also get versions of two other on-rails shooters, Time Crisis 4 - or 'that one where you fight the evil robot terrorism beetles' - and Deadstorm Pirates. The latter is probably the highlight of the whole game, with a strong Pirates of the Caribbean influence and some fairly decent skeleton gunning throughout.
As a release designed to capitalise on the release of PlayStation Move, Razing Storm works as a particularly poor showcase of its abilities: outside of the visuals there's nothing here the Wii hasn't already done better. Still, it's a chance to play Time Crisis 4 without the putrid orange GunCon 3.
Perhaps the bigger problem is playing on-rails shooters with the Move itself. Even when held like a gun, or strapped into some fancy holster, it doesn't quite replicate the sensation of playing with a light gun. The on-screen pointer is an absolute necessity yet it robs the genre of some of its intrinsic charm, though ultimately it's an acceptable compromise in a world where nobody in their right mind is going to spend more of their hard-earned money on additional peripherals.
On-rails shooters are in a funny place right now: they're frequently released as filter titles for motion controllers, but none of them really do anything to actually excite the fan base or advance the genre. Time Crisis: Razing Storm does a splendid job of being a bit of throwaway fluff you might be able to pick up on the cheap a couple of months from now, but anyone expecting something more than yet another tired throwback will be sorely disappointed.