This is not the kind of news you want to see in the week before Chrimbo. Numerous reports strongly suggest that Nottingham based developer Free Radical Design has closed and locked its doors, leaving the future of the studio and the fourth instalment of the fantastic TimeSplitters series in very serious doubt.
According to staff members, when they arrived at work yesterday morning, they found the doors closed and the locks changed, with a message instructing them to attend a final meeting in a nearby hotel. Free Radical is believed to employ between 150 – 200 staff. Since then, Gamasutra has managed to confirm that the developer has entered administration following financial troubles. It is believed that founder David ‘Dr’ Doak has already departed from the company, along with other senior staff.
Free Radical was originally formed by former Rare employees. Its whimsical TimeSplitters series was amongst the finest console shooter franchise around – the best the PlayStation and GameCube had to offer and, in our opinion, way better than that Halo rubbish on the Xbox . The games also had clearly taken a great deal of inspiration from Rare’s seminal GoldenEye 007 shooter on N64. Since then, the devs have been behind the excellent Second Sight title on PS2, and they made a PS3 exclusive title. It’s name isn’t really important. Suffice to say it had big ideas that were never quite realised. Oh fine – it was Haze. Yes, Haze, the horribly over-hyped, massively delayed, ugly mess.
Poor sales of that game and the subsequent loss of a contract with Lucas Arts (believed to be Star Wars Battlefront II), have led us to this unpleasant juncture. As massive Splitters fans ourselves, we would be deeply saddened by the loss of the series and hope that the company’s problems can be resolved.