TimeShift - 360 - Preview
Pre-E3 2006 First Look Preview
There are few words to describe TimeShift, the recently acquired VUG title that was once in the Atari stable. Breathtaking, innovative, imaginative would be three such words. But when one considers that TimeShift is a first-person shooter game, a genre that has seen some nice innovations in the past, but few of those, TimeShift may be on the verge of upsetting the staid qualities of genre and force gamers to think outside the proverbial box.
In order to understand that, one needs to look at what FPS titles have offered. Usually high in intensity with lots of action, the games have basically stuck to the formula of walking through a level, encounter, back up while blowing it to smithereens, and then moving forward yet again. Plot twists and turns engage the brain, but most of what gamers encounter are paired to reflexive abilities.
Enter TimeShift. It takes the idea of bending time to the next level in the genre – taking what we know of the ‘Bullet Time’ concept and Prince of Persia’s ‘Sands of Time’ abilities and implementing them into a unique concept splashed against a graphical experience that is jaw dropping.
Players take on the role of Michael Swift, a chrononaut who is sent back in time by his boss, appropriately named Chrone. When Swift returns to the present day of the game’s time frame, he discovers that the reason he was sent back was to trigger a butterfly effect in which not only would the world be vastly different, but Chrone would be the tyrannical and somewhat evil main power player. Swift is ticked and determined to set things right. Not only does he have fighting skills, but he can control time in spurts – slow it, stop it and reverse it. These affect things around him, but not him. If he falls from a ledge and is badly hurt, he can’t reverse time and avoid that fall. However, he can stop time, run up to an enemy, take their superior weapon, back up and when time re-flows, blow them in many pieces.
But as the game progresses, the difficulty ramps up. For example, you will encounter robots that are moving at hyperspeed. Their reality is that of a slower environment, so it makes them appear to move with dizzying speed.
The solution? Well, there is one, but it won’t be revealed here … just yet.
There is some linearity in the mission scheme and the game will feature both single-player and multiplayer game modes. There are approximately 34 levels in this world and each is huge with few load times to increase the immersive factor.
When it comes to the graphics, TimeShift will startle, stun and totally please even the most discerning tastes. The textures are amazing, regardless how close you get to a wall, and as the environments are alive, you can put bullet holes in steam pipes and allow steam to escape. Run a machine-gun tracing across a brick wall, and you will be treated to pock-marked reminders of your mini-rampage. Plus the game uses rag-doll and real-world physics. Shoot someone in the leg and they buckle to the ground, but live; a head shot and it’s over. As for the AI – well, it is intelligent. Stop time, walk up to an enemy with friends and take away his weapon, back up and restart time (the power cycles and recharges). The weaponless enemy will beg for you not to shoot him. Well, he is unarmed, so you kill one of his comrades and as you are killing the other, the weaponless guy will run over and pick up the weapon of his fallen squadmate. What a liar!
TimeShift has a lot going for it, and has the potential to turn the FPS genre on its ear. Rather than fix a date, VUG’s Marcus Beer stated that the game will be released “when it is finished” so setting a release date was not forthcoming.