TimeShift is a time-bending first-person shooter being developed by Saber Interactive. The main protagonist, who remains unknown, is divined with the gift of time manipulation, including the ability to slow down, stop and rewind the world, allowing him to manipulate the sustenance of time itself to his advantage.
The opening sequence initiates the story for the game, where the protagonist is pursuing a mad scientist named Krone into an alternate timestream where he’s a totalitarian dictator. With the help of his alpha time suit that enables him to make the jump to the future and dominate the world, Krone becomes target of a rebel uprising is trying to take him down. Luckily, you are wearing a far greater power—the beta TC suit, a more advanced prototype of the time travel suit. With it, you will defend the rebel cause and take down Krone at his own game.
The conflict destroyed what was once a thriving metropolis and you are it’s last savior in the future. Reminiscent to Half Life 2, a title which I very much enjoyed deving on, Krone’s face appears on video screens throughout the city, which provides for a more Hollywood like setting. With the environment of the city containing its own unique feel, in addition to many other locations, TimeShift makes you truly feel the world is your oyster.
At the beginning of its graphical timescale, the first iteration of TimeShift was definitely steampunk inspired, from the variety of weapons through to the architectural design of the city. The design focuses more towards an urban world, believing that steampunk just wasn’t as exhilarating as a more common venue. In less than a year, this team has taken a game that looks like Gears of War, and completely overhauled the assets and graphics to produce something different, and unique.
Not only is the urban scale different, but the graphics are in a level of their own, without comparison to any other game—especially KillZone 2.
The opening sequence, very much like the original trailer, requires you to beat the crap out of Krone’s army, saving soldiers and signaling your allegiance. Playing without time control truly allows for a broad base comparison not only of what gameplay is without time control, but how stunning the gameplay is had there not been a time control aspect to begin with.
As you continue outside after saving soldiers, you see the night is dark with a misty smell, the rain is pouring realistically down hard, and the scenery is melancholy with bursts of deafening lightning. As you journey out, the oppression of the city is lucid, the roads are decrepit, building are torn down as smoke is seeping out from the windows, and a number of rebels are taking cover, providing as a defense against Krone’s forces.
You’ll get access to few different weapons from early on; a solid assault rifle with grenade launcher secondary fire, a crossbow that shoots explosive bolts and has a mean zoom, a shotgun and a rusty handgun. You can carry three weapons at a time (as well as grenades), and many of the weapons have mini-zooms for better aim.
The game can best be defined as semi-linear. Even though you have to carry through the story, the developers provide consistency through spontaneity. They close up several areas, but situations can change. As you move along city streets, onto fire escapes, through sewers and stairways, from cover to cover through open parks and on into labs and strongholds, you feel that you have the power to do anything. Despite this semi-linear aspect, some of the game design is flawed with checkpoint enemies, those enemies that pop out a certain point—always.
In terms of powers, you can stop, slow and rewind time for short periods. Rewind time to appear where you weren’t, slow it down to run amazingly fast, you get the drift. Through these powers, you definitely have the smell of Prince of Persia in the air, the first game to truly redefine game interactivity with the environment’s timescale.
With your powers, you can blow up a guy into pieces in slow motion, or you can shoot the gun out of an enemy’s hands then catch it in mid-air. You can even show yourself, stop time, and run away to leave the guards dumbfounded. The A.I. is incredibly powerful in this game though—better than Assassin’s Creed. They react realistically, not only in terms of animation, but overall reaction. They’ll fake a pose one minute of being scared, and then shoot you the next. You might try and take the gun from them, but some might have a tighter grip than others. Be careful! As a supplement to these stunning graphics of not only the environment but especially the characters, TimeShift uses a mixture of key dynamic animations and motion capture combined with wireworks for explosive proportions.
TimeShift powers definitely make the gameplay come alive and allow for something far from a regular FPS. Luckily, the puzzles are easy and don’t require too much thought or make a huge contribution to the linear gameplay they are known for. The time powers add a unique flavor to this first person shooter, and leave something worth remembering. So, put on your suit, and get ready to make history.