Tuesday, August 3, 2010

X360 Look - Timeshift

There's a lot of things I should be saying about Timeshift. I should be talking about how derivative it is, how there's nobody playing it online anymore, and that..well..it's a bargain-bin title. This is one of those games that got ignored when it came out. Maybe there was a good reason for that. The scores from every major review site tell the same story, "Timeshift is somewhere between a five and an eight so you're better off waiting for a nine or a ten". Nowadays our standards have grown so we expect better, which means that Timeshift is already gone and forgotten about.

Thus it's difficult for me not to question myself when I admit that I really enjoyed this game. What does that say about my standards? I'd like to think I'm a pretty critical person when it comes to games but what about first-person-shooters? I don't play very many of them and I don't appreciate some of the best received titles in the genre. So where does that leave me? Maybe one day I'll be gone and forgotten when everyone believes that I have no idea what I'm talking about. It'll be me and Timeshift living together in some paradoxical anomaly nobody would dare to speak about. Well that's just fine if that's the case because I have no idea what a paradoxical anomaly is and it sounds kind of cool.

Timeshift follows the story of a man with no identity who gets a really cool suit and the ability to use time to his advantage. There's a handful of cutscenes explaining some story about a dictator and the hero's girlfriend but none of that's important. Most of the time the player will be part of a resistance movement to take down this evil dictator. There are some light puzzle elements that have easy solutions, an extended sequence that involves driving a vehicle around, and a handful of vehicles that must be destroyed to progress. It's standard stuff and I guess that sort of thing would be inexcusable in our mad dash for innovation in story-telling and direction.

All of this rendered irrelevant when the player steps foot on the battlefield. It's the typical one against many affair but it looks like the hero has all of the advantages. The biggest one is the hero's suit. Basically what it boils down to is that the player can slow down or even stop time whenever they feel like it. They're unaffected by the happenings of the world around them so if that means blasting everyone while they stand around impotently well that's what's going to happen. This power is regulated by a meter that drains and refills with time. Each section of the game is basically a different combination of enemies, environmental hazards like exploding barrels, and whatever weapons the player happens to be lugging around.

This simple yet effective model is further augmented by the player's arsenal. There are a variety of weapons to use and while they're all pretty traditional they offer a lot of options. If the player enjoys long-range they'll find a sniper rifle and a crossbow that fires exploding bolts to aid them while those that prefer getting up close will like the flame-thrower and shotgun. It's the kind of stuff that's been seen before but one also has to take into account the player's ability to control time. If anything this makes the player even more effective in whatever kind of shooter they like to play. It's a perfectly rational idea to stop time, hit five enemy soldiers with cross-bow bolts, and watch them all explode at the same time.

No doubt about it the timeshifting is what makes this game work. It allows for a lot of different ways of going through each encounter and the weapons are all satisfying to use as the enemy responds appropriately to every shot (as in they split to pieces real good). It's pure fun and offers the kind of experience that one should have gotten from those Matrix games that came out in the past. I really have to wonder what could have been if Timeshift allowed for a robust melee-combat engine. Some other games have used the slow-motion model before but it's just not as fun to me when the player is slowed down as well.

Ultimately however it's not all great. The puzzle sections are amusing at first as they involve slowing, stopping, or even reversing time to solve. They're pretty numerous and ultimately wearisome after awhile. It's a nice break from fighting or so I assume, I'd rather just shoot people all day but oh well. The final encounter is a bit lacking as well since rather than fight a guy that's potentially on the level of the main character it's just a destroying a very large vehicle.

Still while the conclusion isn't satisfying I can honestly say that I enjoyed this game the entire way through. There's really not a single moment that threatened to grind my progress to a halt or force me to repeat certain sections again and again just because I didn't have it quite right. Furthermore unlike a number of other shooters there's not a bunch of lousy hidden pick-ups to find. There are no dog-tags, hidden intel cases, or anything that'll cause me to lose focus of the mission. Really though this game is good enough as it is even if it's just making people explode in slow-motion. Maybe you won't feel the same way, at least you'll only be out a few dollars.

Game Rating - 4.0 out of 5 stars
The multiplayer is pretty barren but I didn't take that into account while playing this game. It's probably better this way since I have more than enough fun in the campaign mode. Still though I'd trade the weaker elements like the repetitive puzzles and boring finale for maybe some new types of enemies and perhaps a handful of new weapons. As it is however it's very solid and totally worthwhile.

My Rating - 4.5 out of 5 stars
Like I said I really enjoy this game. The havok physics are pretty dated but I think that adds to the fun as sometimes I'll crush a soldier into a wall with a stolen quad and his body will spaz out. Sometimes people just have a habit of flying up into the air when shot while being frozen in time. I don't care if that's supposed to make sense I just love it.


  1. This game is going to be off the wall!

  2. This game came out when halo and cod came out and sadly had no chance :(