I have a love-hate relationship with arcade-perfect conversions. Maybe you can empathize.
On the one hand, I used to be an arcade rat, and I still love that particular quality you find in all the best quartermuncher. Yes, something like Area 51 or Zombie Revenge or, more relevantly, Time Crisis could eat through twenty dollars like a buzzsaw through a phone book. At the same time, they were addictive as hell and were just fair enough. If you practiced enough, memorized the patterns, and learned the game inside and out, you might be able to beat it one day without blowing your whole damn allowance on it.
On the other, when an arcade game hits home, I don't know how well that translates. A game I have no trouble accepting on an arcade cabinet can often seem like a chore on a home system, especially if the home version's got limited credits. It's odd, but the ongoing process of pattern memorization and practiced skill seems more strenuous in my living room than in the arcade.
The point here is that Time Crisis: Crisis Zone is a great lightgun game and a great translation, but it leaves me cold somehow. It's not bad at all, but something feels like it's missing.
Part of it is the scale, I think. In Crisis Zone, you're part of a SWAT team invading London's new Garland Square plaza, which has been taken over by a small, well-trained army of terrorists. The problem then becomes that they are, in fact, an army; instead of a bunch of nitwits with automatic weapons, you're up against an occupying force that includes attack helicopters, a squad of ninjas, a few hundred trained and armored soldiers, and in one memorable sequence, a fully equipped tank.
You, by way of comparison, have a couple of other SWAT cops who don't accomplish anything of lasting significance; a submachine gun; and a riot shield. Thus endeth the list of your hardware. As with past Time Crises, you can hit a button to hide behind available cover and reload, thus dodging incoming fire, but you're also working against a strict time limit. If you can't clear a given sequence within fifty-five seconds or so, you'll take a hit; if you get hit four times, the game's over.
There aren't any powerups or health kits to speak of, either, beyond some special weapons that're really hard to find. It's just you, the gun, the relentless horde of enemy grunts, and the fully destructible environments. As you exchange fire with said thugs, your gunfire will knock most of your surroundings around. A fight in a newstand will send magazines flying into the air, knock over a stack of boxes, and punch holes in the shelves. As you spray bullets around, you can destroy most of the contents of any given room, demolishing an enemy's hard cover or simply breaking stuff to look tough.
This innate destructability is what gives Crisis Zone some of its flavor. Other Time Crisis games conduct elaborate and cinematic fight choreographies, taking you on a hell ride through major battlefields, the streets of cities, or the holds of sinking ships. Crisis Zone makes you blast through five stages in a room-by-room clearing exercise, leaving a trail of wreckage a mile long. Personally, I preferred the old way of doing things, but there's definitely some merit in this.
More relevantly, Crisis Zone is really quite short. With two difficulties, five stages, and the insane challenges of Mission Mode, you'll make a long weekend out of this one. If you're the kind of person who keeps coming back to arcade-style challenges just for their own sake, this'll make an okay purchase, especially once you unlock the dual-gun mode. For the rest of us, this is a solid rental, but it'll gather a bit too much dust to be a worthwhile purchase.
This is usually a useless statement, I'll admit, but if you like Time Crisis games, Crisis Zone will probably appeal to you. It switches out the series's usual pistols for fully automatic firepower, but its biggest mistake is in replacing previous games' lunatic action setpieces with simple destruction for destruction's sake. It's not as satisfying an experience as, say, Time Crisis 3, but if you're looking for a title to use your lightgun with, Crisis Zone will keep you entertained for a while.