developer: Saber Interactive
PIV 2000, 512MB RAM, 128MB video card
|ESRB rating: M
release date: Oct 30, 07 (released)
|» All About TimeShift on ActionTrip|
TimeShift underwent some serious revisions throughout its development. Saber Interactive and Sierra have made improvements, both cosmetically and gameplay wise, so the game would find a place among contemporary first-person shooters. We were curious to see the how this newly perked-up TimeShift would turn out. Well, the PC version kept me busy for the last couple of days. I finished the single-player campaign, which should take most gamers about 10-12 hours to complete (less for hardcore gamers). I also took part in several multiplayer matches.
Coast is clear, oh wait...
You can't kill me! I'm the master of time!
God knows, tendencies in the games industry rarely bring about a FPS with a decent story. Publishers and developers nowadays just don't seem to invest much time and resources into that particular aspect. As a result, games simply lack a sensible plot structure, so in most cases gamers end up completely bewildered when they try to understand what's actually going on.
To cut a long story short, if you're after an exciting narrative or, heaven forefend, a plot that makes sense, you'll be mighty disappointed with TimeShift, as I was. Seriously, piecing together various plot points, hastily served to the player via perplexing cut-scenes, comes off as a rather clumsy and amateurish move by the developers. When they made a decision to scrap the old storyline (read more on that in our preview, they obviously failed to come up with anything remotely interesting.
The game pits you against a villain named Dr. Krone, who stole a unique suit that enables its wearer to travel through time. In an unsurprising move, Krone used the suit to do mean things (being a villain, and all), eventually creating an alternate reality, so you must get into the other suit (yes, there's a spare) and stop him. Without much explanation, you join the uprising and start shooting back at Krone's soldiers... and you can guess how the rest goes. Be a bad-ass, save the day. It boils down to helping the rebels fight the evil power, naturally with the aid of your special suit and its ability to manipulate time.
The TimeShift setting practically borrows concepts and design from every other game on the market, particularly first-rate shooters such as Half-Life, Halo, etc. Fair enough, it's been done before, but there's a difference between subtle similarities and a shameless rip-off. In fact, in some ways, this game seems like a carbon copy of Valve's Half-Life 2 - rebels fighting against a superior malevolent ruler and soldiers who act suspiciously like the Combine (beating up citizens and whatnot). During the first portion of the game, Krone, the main bad guy, speaks to citizens via huge screens placed throughout the city, pretty much the same way Dr. Wallace Breen did in HL2. Hell, they've even equipped the main character with a deadly crossbow, similar to what Gordon wields in HL2 - the only variation being that the ammo explodes after hitting its target.
When it comes to weapons, there isn't much to be excited about with this one. The game presents the usual mix of short-range and long-range weaponry; from the standard shotgun, to the rifle, rocket launcher, hand grenades, sniper rifles, and so on. By using my nifty time abilities, it was easy to pass through most areas armed with nothing but a shotgun and the mentioned crossbow.
Okay, negative points aside, I cannot deny that TimeShift had its cool moments. Admittedly, to slow, stop or reverse time, are probably the main reasons why you'll feel compelled to play on. The use of time is limited, so you're going to have to be quick with whatever you need to do. Time-shifting offers many different ways to confront enemies. One of the most appealing ways is slowing down time and then approaching your foe to grab his weapon. Once you do that, you can return to normal mode and watch as your unarmed opponent raises his hands and begs for mercy. The interesting thing is not all enemies will do this. Some of them seize the opportunity to pick up a different weapon from a fallen comrade the moment you turn your back. Nice.
The AI also responded pleasingly throughout most of the game. Although enemies usually rely on numbers rather than intelligence, overall, TimeShift should be challenging enough for the average gamer. More experience players are likely to finish the game quickly and with little effort. Regrettably, the developers chose to incorporate very few opponents that can be a serious challenge.
Some troops are able to move about faster by manipulating time, like you. At that point, the game becomes a fun ride and good test of your FPS skills. Unfortunately, there aren't many moments like that in the game and even with such additions, TimeShift becomes monotonous at times. For a few brief moments, the game features driving sequences. You get to drive cute little ATVs (or Quads, as they are referred to in the game), but that's about it.
As for the level design, again, TimeShift follows the same basic pattern we've seen in dozens of action games before, from Doom 3 and on-the-rails shooters like Medal of Honor. The game's linear structure won't let you deviate from the course of the campaign and there are very few choices and alternative routes to take. Thankfully, you can at least choose how you're going to take out enemies; the usual way or with time as your ally.
On a few rare occasions, the game requires your time powers to overcome obstacles or to reach a particular location. Reversing time, for instance, will help you use elevators that would normally be inaccessible. It doesn't take much brainstorming, but it's still a nice gameplay element. Other than that, the gameplay remains fast-paced, though frequently repetitive.
6.1 Above Average
Using time to overcome foes, fun multiplayer, the make-over worked for the most part;
Practically no story, repetitive gameplay, takes too many familiar gameplay elements from other shooters.