TimeShift - 360 - Review
A title that has done its time in development hell and then some, TimeShift at best could’ve been merely an average budget-quality title, and at worst a disaster. However, the development team at Sabre Interactive gave the game the old college try, switching publishers from Atari to Vivendi, who gave them an extra year to bring the game up to standards. The end result is a very polished shooter with some fantastic elements and innovative play. There are some areas where the game doesn’t fully live up to its potential and falls into ho-hum territory; however, the game as a whole is a solid shooter with some great concepts, and is a lot of fun to play.
Instead of presenting you with a backdrop for the storyline through cut scenes, TimeShift tells you the story as it’s going, letting you fill in the blanks as to what is happening. You work in the lab at a facility that is working on time travel through the use of a suit (S.S.A.M.), when one of the scientists in charge of its development shanghais one of the devices and goes back in time, destroying the lab in the process. As everything is going to hell in a handbasket, you put on another suit and are sent back to an arbitrary time, specifically 1943. However, whereas World War II would be in full swing in the normal course of things, the 1943 that you’re sent to is substantially different from anything you’ve seen, with futuristic weaponry and vehicles alongside bombed out buildings and resistance fighters. Turns out this scientist from the future messed with the Space-Time Continuum and asserted himself the absolute ruler of the past, and it becomes your job to fix the past and take him down.
While your brain may be spinning in a time paradox after that convoluted story description, take solace in knowing that the gameplay is much easier to get a grasp on, but no less complex. Obviously, the big key element in TimeShift is your ability to control time. While slowing down time is not really a new thing in video games, or even first-person shooters for that matter, it has never been done with the sense of focus and polish as TimeShift handles it.
In the game, you’ll gradually begin to use time in certain ways, starting out innocuously by slowing down time or stopping it completely to get the drop on your foes. However, you’ll begin using it in more complex ways as you progress through the game. You’ll be able to steal weapons from your enemies and watch them look around in confusion, reverse time in order to keep from getting hit with a sticky bomb, and essentially become extremely powerful with your time manipulation abilities.
However, the game does have some problems in the execution of the single-player campaign. You’ll have to solve puzzles in order to progress, but the linear nature and simplicity of them keep the game from realizing its full potential. You’ll typically be presented with the same kind of situations and the game will tell you exactly what to do in each of them, taking away any kind of sandbox feel.
Additionally, some of the weapons throughout the game are unnecessarily powerful, like the crossbow, which is fast to load, has a generous scope, and typically capable of one-hit kills. The weapons lack balance, making it so that once you pick up a certain one, you won’t have to use any other ones, or even your time abilities, much of the time.
The game has some pretty cool online features as well. Whereas the time-based features would usually be impossible to do on an online scale, the game works around it by using time grenades. With time grenades you create a dome-shaped enclosure where one enemy will be forced to experience one of the time manipulation tactics at your disposal. For example, you can throw a stop time grenade at your foe and have him freeze and take him out, or you could be even more crafty and throw a reverse time grenade right as he shoots a rocket at you, reversing it and sending it right back at him.
There are the requisite game modes like Free-for-all and Capture the Flag modes, as well as some new ones like King of Time, one person has unlimited time attacks but is the sole target for all other players, and Meltdown Madness, where you have to use time to either slow down your reactor’s meltdown time or speed up your opponent’s. The new modes are a blast to play and the time elements will definitely offer some innovation online.
Graphically, TimeShift is a pretty good looking game, rivaling any other title in the FPS genre. The character models look pretty good, and the game boasts some pretty nice special effects. The environmental textures are excellent, with some realistic deformable terrain elements. There are some great time bending elements that show up in the visuals too, like raindrops stopping in mid-air when you’ve stopped time.
The sound in the game is pretty decent, with a slightly repetitious score and some weak voice work and cheesy elements (the “creepy singing child” cliche rears its head in the intro cutscene). However, the sound effects are done pretty cleanly and the game generally isn’t an earsore.
TimeShift is a pretty solid shooter, and while there are few design flaws that prevent it from being an instant classic, there is a fun and unique shooter here that has grown leaps and bounds from where it was a year ago in its development.
Review Scoring Details for TimeShift
The time elements are very well done, giving you a true sense of power and time manipulation. However, there are some balancing issues with the weaponry, and an overly linear feeling throughout.
TimeShift is a pretty sharp game, with great environmental textures and some cool special effects.
There are some cliched elements and weak voice acting, but the game generally sounds decent.
The story is slightly inane and hard to follow, but the well handled time manipulation elements are much appreciated.
Some great time-based elements and game modes, TimeShift is a blast online.
TimeShift isn’t perfect, and has a ways to go before it can be considered a revolutionary interpretation of time-based first-person shooting. However, those who take the plunge will find a solid and unique shooter that’s well worth their time.