STAFF REVIEW of Timeshift (Xbox 360)

Sunday, November 18, 2007.
by Tony Ingrassia

Timeshift Box art Time manipulation has been used in games before, sometimes succefully, sometimes as just a gimmick. I have to admit the concept, in either form, always seems to interest me. I?m always wondering how well it can be implemented, and when I first heard of Timeshift by Sierra, I was equally interested. The premise?you poses the Beta Suit, it can master movement through time, not just forward and back, but you can also bring time to a stand still. Dr. Aiden Krone recklessly makes a Time Jump across the space-time continuum. Now it?s up to you to hunt him down and restore order to the madness he?s unleashed? welcome to your alternate reality.

Timeshift hits the ground running with some very impressive, dramatic cut scenes. A quick, yet sketchy storyline starts to unfold, the next thing you know your hardwired into the Beta Suite and your being rushed down dark, dank corridors by Commander Mason Cooke, the leader of the anti-Krone resistance. While the quick, confusing pace seems a little, well, confusing, it does replicate the feeling of not knowing what happened or where you are quite well. There is an element of mystery within this game, because the story is pieced together more so as you play rather than it all being explained up front. The dark, gloomy Alpha District is just that, very bleak, very quiet except for the sound of gunfire or oncoming tanks, Mech?s, or helicopters. The silence is almost distracting at times, but again it does lend itself well to the overall feel of the game. Your alter-ego if you will, is the Beta Suites artificial intelligence S.S.A.M. Along with the ability to warn you about impending enemies or obstructions, S.S.A.M can also retrieve any Audio or Video transmit ions within a certain proximity, so while you will have some surprises, you can be prepared for oncoming conflicts and obstructions.

That?s about as much info as your going to get once you start playing. Timeshift at a glance plays out like many FPS, you are able to yield many various weapons, all which have an alternate fire capability, you can man turrets along your route as needed and most importantly if you can get to them in one piece. The game is very tactical?with a new twist. As much as many gamers will have the urge to run and gun this game, the true concept of the game lies in examining your surrounding and utilizing your time manipulation. New vantage points can be gained by simple things such as barrels that roll off a scaffold in a higher location. Standing on the barrel and reversing time can elevate you to a higher vantage point, helping your AI buddies through some thick fire. Its very difficult to stop and rethink how to play a game, but once you get through the first couple of missions, and a little trial and error the game takes on a new life, large enemy presence isn?t as daunting when you know how to use your powers of time bending, slowing down time as you take down enemies one by one with your shot gun, or even disarming them becomes quite interesting. Snapping back into normal time once disarmed, your enemy is pretty much at your mercy, or lack there of.

Overall Timeshift is a well made, and visually pleasing experience, its pitfalls are few, but there none the less. Enemy AI seems to be a race of thick skinned warriors, because at times it does seem an overabundance of fire power is needed to take down what would seem a normal foot soldier, head shots are 50/50 at best, and the missions seem a bit too linear. Again, the concept of the game is to utilize the time abilities, so I can kind of turn a bit of a blind eye to that problem. You can also mount vehicles in the game, more for getting across distances quicker than anything else; they do come in handy for running over groups when needed. When on a vehicle the game retains its FP aspect, the controls are a bit twitchy while driving, but manageable. There is a nice array of weaponry at your disposal, over 10 weapons and assorted grenades will aid you through your missions, and you can reload quite easily and gather ammo along the way from fallen enemies or unmanned Ammo Lockers. The HUD is pretty straight forward, a life bar, or Rapid Recovery system will protect you, the suite will absorb damage, but only do much, dodging into a safe area for a bit will recharge your shielding system and your off and running. Time powers can be activated anywhere, in certain situations the ?Correct? time function will be enabled just by pushing the shoulder button, other times, you can choose which function you feel is needed. The amount of time available in each ?Time? manipulation is dependant on usage, like the shielding system, it will become depleted as used but a few minutes of rest will recharge the system. That being said, you can disengage the time function at any point during use, saving energy for later.

Timeshift also offers on-line muti-player action via XBOX Live; unfortunately I was not able to find players during my review process, besides the usual game types such as capture the flag, Timeshift offers a completely new dynamic built around the Time manipulation theory. Chrono Grenades are the most fun, affecting all players and weapons within the blast radius accordingly, Slow, Back, or Stop Grenades are at your disposal.

Here is the inevitable problem, in my opinion, Time Shift is a solid game, not the end all be all, but its well designed, fun to play, and challenges players to think more than just run guns a blazing, but the inevitable comparisons to another popular FPS will plague Time Shift. Time Shift looks great, aside from a few minor things is very enjoyable, but the concept of Tome manipulation didn?t knock my socks off. At times it is used in a very gimmick like fashion, such as stopping time to walk across electrified water, or fire engulfed sewer pipes. Once you remove the Time element from the game there really isn?t anything over abundantly new here. Kudos to everyone on the game for delivering a well polished game with a shot at a new twist, it just doesn?t have enough to make it a real stand out at the moment.

Gamers may be split on Time Shift, I would recommend giving it a look if your willing to abandon your ?Run and Gun? instincts for a bit and use a little grey matter, but as stated earlier there are comparisons that will be made, whether justified or not.

I liked the concept, but there needed to be a bit more too it in some way. Entertaining, visually clean, but not enough to set it apart.

Overall: 7.8 / 10
Gameplay: 7.5 / 10
Visuals: 8.5 / 10
Sound: 7.5 / 10


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