Monday, December 3, 2007
Review: Use time as a weapon in "TimeShift"
Pausing time? Cool. Taking an enemy's weapon while time is paused? Sick. The reaction on his face when time resume and his weapon is in your hands? Priceless.
Developed by Saber Interactive and published by Sierra, "TimeShift" is a FPS that puts gamers in firm control of a very valuable asset - time. "TimeShift" pits gamers against Dr. Alden Krone, a MIT professor who made a Time Jump across the space-time continum, creating an alternate reality. You are equipped with a beta Time suit, that also gamers to stop, reverse or slow time. The suit also regenerates your health if you are wounded.
The storyline is ok, and apparently set in an alternate reality with Krone hard at work trying to make a perfect race of sorts. The art and posters in the game are very Nazi/Facist themed. Even the logos resemble the Nazi eagle emblems. The environment looks a lot like the cities in "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow."
You will find yourself being in situations were being able to manipulate time is the only way you can survive. There are a few scenarios where you have to cross a patch of water that is getting shocked with some high-voltage electricity. By pausing time, you can not only stop the electricity, but walk on water. When you pause time, everything around you is affected while you continue to move in real-time. There was one situation were I was on an ATV - and yes, you can drive vehicles in the game - and I landed in water. I died within a few seconds. When I redid the level, after I jumped off a ramp, I paused time and the ATV landed on the water and skidded around. Now, if my local Wal-Mart carried something like this ... sweetness. There are also times when you have to pass fire, deadly fumes, spinning fans and deadly lasers and time is definitely on your side. There are levers that only operate when depressed and won't stay open long enough for you to move through without assistance. That's another place where your trusty suit comes in handy. You can pause time, depress the lever and move through passage ways or past force fields that wouldn't be possible otherwise.
On one level, you are in an elevator and it goes kaput. As it falls, you have to slow time and jump off before it crashes. On another level, you have to run past this huge bot firing missiles into a walkway and slowing time gives you enough time to run past it. There are tons of combinations to using time against the enemies.
The only drawback with the time feature - it's limited. Depending on what time mode you select, you will only have a few seconds to do whatever you need done before the suit has to recharge. Though the suit recharges, heals you and protects you from all sorts of nasty objects, You have to find cover for a few seconds to get your health back, which actually recovers faster than than your time-stopping chemical.
Arguably one of the coolest things to do when you pause time is using your enemies weapons against them. I have a ball pausing time, taking an enemy's rifle or shattergun (like a shotgun) and unpausing time and watching a very confused expression on their face. I also think gamers would get a kick out of pausing time, shooting an enemy with an explosive arrow and unpausing it and watching them search for the arrow in vain. Another sweet thing to do while time is stopped or slowed? Blast an enemy in the head and unpause time. Yes, you'll never look at time in the same way.
As I stated earlier, you can also use turrets (on tanks, zeppelins and standalone units) and operate vehicles, including ATVs and railcars. The ATV controls are good - it's not like driving a Warthog in "Halo 3." And when you operate a turret, you can slow and pause time to give an advantage over attacking enemies. The guns tend to overheat, but slowing time keeps them cooler a lot longer.
It's a single player game, but you can online and face other games via Xbox LIVE in multiplayer mode. Some of the online modes include Deathmatch (every gamer for themselves), Team Deathmatch, King of Time (grab the Time Sphere and become immune to all time effects), Meltdown Madness (stop your enemy's machine from counting down while protecting your machine's own countdown), Capture the Flag and One-on-One.
You do partner from time to time with friendly troops, but they are really just there to move the story along. They won't act or go out of their way unless you take the lead.
The enemy AI is a lot smarter than most enemies I have seen, though they can easily get confused. They are really relentless, but no match for someone in control of time. There are enemy soldiers dressed to the hilt in armor, some that fly on jetpacks and some in regular fatigues doing maintenance. Don't be fooled by them - they too have weapons close by.
You have several weapons to choose from, including a sniper rifle that shoots rockets, a machine gun with a grenade launcher, shotgun, a killer pistol (that works great but hard as the devil to find ammo for. Depending on your difficulty mode, you can find ammo boxes with fill up all of your weapons instead of just a few.
Another sweet feature? The save-anywhere function. It's really, really helpful when you have just finished a difficult level and you don't want to redo it again.
"TimeShift" also offers unlockables such as concept art, videos that are unlocked after you finish the game on certain difficulties.
The controls are solid - you don't have to jam buttons to get things done. As long as you remember the button layout, you don't have anything to worry about.
The graphics are good looking - the rifles and environments are well done. The environments don't feel cramped - they are large, though the game is rather linear. Yes, there's pretty much just one path you have to follow to finish your missions.
The sounds are good also. The ricochet of bullet rounds, the muffled screams of soldiers slowly being blasted are to die for. And the eery sound of time being paused is cool, but takes some time to get used to.
The only way I can describe this game is the movie, "Click," meets "Halo." It's a good FPS that's fun to play, but adding time manipulation makes this worth a look.
Time to roll ...
Why should I care: "TimeShift" combines some good FPS action with the ability to stop - slow - reverse time.
The good: Pause time, catch a grenade and pitch it back, stealing weapons from most enemies while time is paused, walking on water and the ability to use time as a weapon - figuring out how to best use time is challenging but fun
The bad: Your allies are tools - the enemy AI is challenging but clueless - very linear and can be repetitive at times - the objectives are sometimes out of view
The ugly: The hunks of humans left after blowing them up with explosive arrows
Overall: 8 (out of 10): "TimeShift" is a good FPS with a small problem ironically called timing. Sierra would have had more success releasing "TimeShift" within months of "Bioshock," "Halo 3," "Call of Duty 4" and "Mass Effect." While the game is innovative, it's easily overshadowed by a flood of holiday releases. However, being able to stop time, walk on water and pwn enemies is worth the price of admission.