Timeshift

Review

posted 12/5/2007 by Cyril Lachel
other articles by Cyril Lachel
One Page Platforms: 360
On paper TimeShift sounds like it has what it takes to compete with the big first-person shooters of the season (such as Halo 3, BioShock and Call of Duty 4). After all, who doesn't like the idea of running around killing people with the power to stop, slow down or reverse time? Unfortunately Sierra's newest Xbox 360 first-person shooter is a by-the-numbers shooter that is guilty of the one crime you shouldn't commit while making an action game ... it's boring.

TimeShift starts out promisingly enough; the game gives us a slickly put together cinema that brings us up to speed with what is going on in this futuristic world. Apparently the evil Dr. Krone has stole a special suit that lets him travel through time and create an alternate reality. Since the doctor is using this suit to terrorize the world and control everything that happens. It's up to you to take an experimental beta suit and defeat Dr. Krone once and for all. While that is essentially the story that is laid out for you, deciphering that can be tricky because of the game's incoherent narrative that at time feels like it's working against you on purpose.

The good news is that you won't need to pay close attention to the maddeningly twisty story to enjoy yourself while playing TimeShift. For the most part this is one of those action games where you kill hundreds of similar looking soldiers as you try to reach the next checkpoint. A lot of your time will be spent behind cover waiting for the right moment to pop out and kill as many bad guys as you possibly can before retreating for cover again. Chances are you've played this game before, because in a lot of ways TimeShift feels exactly like every other first-person shooter on the market right now, from Call of Duty to Half-Life to Killzone.

There is one thing that sets this game apart from all of those other shooters, though. The big new addition to this game is the ability to manipulate time, which sounds like a really exciting new wrinkle for the slightly stale first-person shooter genre. At pretty much any time your character has the ability to do one of three things - stop time, reverse time or slow down time. These abilities will only last for a short amount of time, but if you use them correctly you will be able to gain the upper hand on your enemies no matter how many soldiers they throw at you.

It won't take long before the player's experimental side comes out to play. All of a sudden you're trying out new things that you normally couldn't do in other first-person shooters. For example, it's always fun to stop time and run up to your enemies and take their weapons. Or how about stopping time so that you can literally walk on water? Perhaps my favorite thing to do is get stuck with a grenade and then reverse time, so that the grenade flies away from me back at the person that originally threw it. All of these things (and many more) are possible when you start to use your time suit properly.

As you might imagine, these time-changing abilities also come into play when you're trying to solve puzzles and make your way through the world. From time to time you'll have to figure out how to walk through fire, make it through a timed door, escape a time bomb, and other events. Most of these puzzles can be solved by doing little more than stopping time, but from time to time you'll have to actually slow down time and in some cases reverse time. The problem is that the developers tend to recycle the same types of puzzles without giving us new puzzles to solve. Even worse is how easy most of these puzzles are, pretty much any time you're stuck someplace all you have to do is stop time and you've solved the puzzle. It would have been nice to see a little more creativity in the various puzzles, as it is these events just feel tacked on at the last minute and never fully realized.

Unfortunately that explains the action, too. TimeShift is an extremely linear experience where you go from one checkpoint to the next shooting your gun and altering time. This would be fine if it weren't for the fact that you're basically doing the same thing time and time again. None of the objectives are much fun to complete, it's just the same old shooting gallery from one part of the level to the next. The game does throw in a few different environments to shoot up, but even then the game comes off as repetitive and kind of boring.

Not even the time shifting is very exciting. At first it's a lot of fun to play with the various enemies on the screen, but the joy of stealing guns and reversing grenades starts to lose its appeal when you realize that there's no challenge to it. The game itself is actually very easy, all one really needs to do is activate a time ability (such as the one where you slow down time) and then run around killing as many people as possible. Once you've run out of time that's your cue to run back to cover and wait until you can do it all over again. If you play the game like this you should have no problem beating the game in a roughly ten hours. Obviously you don't have to play the game like this, but TimeShift gives you very little incentive not to just be cheap with your powers.
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