Technology

Acclaimed TimeSplitters franchise set to return under reborn Free Radical studio

TimeSplitters, the acclaimed PS2-era first-person shooter franchise, is being brought back to life by a newly reformed Free Radical Design, publisher Deep Silver announced today. Development is set to commence in the coming months after the new studio is built. The studio, which carries the same name as the original TimeSplitters developer, will be headed by Steve Ellis and David Doak, who founded Free Radical Design in 1999.

Deep Silver has been laying the groundwork for a new TimeSplitters game for several years. It acquired the rights to the franchise in 2018, and in 2019 announced that it was working together with series creator Steve Ellis to “help plot the future course for this franchise.” But today’s news, that the company is establishing a studio to bring TimeSplitters back, is a big commitment that increases the likelihood of a new game actually seeing the light of day. Not like the original TimeSplitters 4 that was first teased way back in 2007.

“To finally be able to confirm that the studio has been formed and that we have a plan for the next TimeSplitters game is incredible,” said Free Radical’s Steve Ellis. “While we cannot tell you anything more at the moment, we look forward to sharing information in the future.”

Free Radical’s TimeSplitters originally gained attention as a spiritual successor to Rare’s GoldenEye, the seminal Nintendo 64 shooter. Free Radical’s founders all worked at Rare before starting the new studio. But over time, the TimeSplitters games have become regarded as classics in their own right. Their split-screen modes were especially beloved local multiplayer experiences, and it’s TimeSplitters 2 that Nick Frost’s character Ed can be seen obsessively playing in Shaun of the Dead.

Unfortunately, after the release of TimeSplitters: Future Perfect in 2005, Free Radical followed it up with the abysmal PS3-exclusive Haze in 2008, the last game it would release under its original name. A sequel to Star Wars: Battlefront II was also in development at the company between 2006 and 2008 but was canceled by its publisher, reportedly as it neared completion. Eurogamer has a great feature from 2012 about the events that transpired.

The studio would go on to be purchased and rebranded as Crytek UK, only to be shut down in 2014 and for its staff to transfer to Dambuster Studios. In case you’re wondering how a semi-complete port of TimeSplitters 2 ended up in Dambuster’s Homefront: The Revolution, well, this is basically why.