RETROSPECTIVE: SECOND SIGHT
PublisheR Codemasters / Developer Free Radical Design / Format Xbox
You’ve heard of Perfect Dark, right?
And GoldenEye 007 for N64? Oh, and you remember the TimeSplitters series, of course. Yep, those are some absolute classics. You might also know that they all came from the same core team – a team that started at Rare, before they splintered off as a new studio. And it was at Free Radical Design that they made the incredible TimeSplitters series. But that team created more than just those few gaming mega-hits. Between the exceptional TimeSplitters 2 and the underperforming
TimeSplitters: Future Perfect came another title – a mind-bending, story-driven action title called Second
Sight. And it was bloody brilliant. Brilliant it might have been, but Second Sight wasn’t the commercial success it should’ve been. Problems with the original publisher meant the announcement of the game was delayed. The release was unfortunately timed with another, similar title. And in the end, not many people heard about the third-person adventure made by the guys that created some of the best shooters of a gaming generation. It wasn’t the end for Free Radical, but this is a game that deserved so much more. Trick of the mind The idea for Second Sight had been knocking around in the mind of its writer, David Doak, for a few years before he and the team eventually got to make it. In fact, it was supposed to be Free Radical’s first game as a new studio. Back then it was called Redemption, but the general idea was the same – your actions in the game would change the course of the story. But when the release of the PS2 was delayed, Sony saw an opportunity for a simpler, multiplayer-focused shooter. One that required less storytelling, and could be produced in time to be a launch title for the new console. That shooter was
TimeSplitters. And after its success, the game that would later become
Second Sight was put on the backburner – for more than four years.
But the idea was always there. And when the game was eventually announced in 2004 – just a few months before its planned release date – it had already been in production for a while. The plan had been to announce it much earlier, but when the original publisher got cold feet, things changed. By the time Codemasters stepped in to help, it was almost finished, and the team had to work hard to build hype for a game that was coming out in just over six months. Despite positive coverage before and during E3, it wasn’t enough for Second Sight to light up the charts.
It didn’t help that the game launched within GoldenEye 007 weeks of Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy.
The two titles were surprisingly similar; both had psychically-powered protagonists, powerful mental attacks and awesome physics. At the time, it was impossible to talk about one without someone bringing up the other. The fates just weren’t on Second Sight’s side. But for many of those that did play it, it became an unknown gem.
Fans of TimeSplitters could be forgiven for thinking it was a spinoff thanks to the art style alone. Its distinctively blocky characters were hugely expressive, and at the time the game looked gorgeous. The team chose the graphical