TimeShift Xbox 360
Published by: Sierra
Developed by: Saber Interactive
Release Date: Out Now
Xbox 360 gamers are certainly spoilt for choice when it comes to FPS games in the run up to Christmas. Halo 3, Call of Duty 4, BioShock and The Orange Box are just some of the top games that fans of the genre will consider as must own purchases. TimeShift therefore has its work cut out in trying to appeal to fans of the FPS genre amidst a glut of quality releases. What’s needed of course is a special feature; something original that helps the game stand out. With its unique time controls TimeShift certainly has that.
Whilst a quality storyline is not essential for an FPS game to be enjoyable, it’s always good to be fully aware of who your character is and what their purpose is. TimeShift leaves virtually all these details kind of sketchy and you never feel as though you are fully aware of what’s going on. From the scenes at the beginning of the game and from the text on the back of the box you’ll get a vague idea of what’s happening. A certain Dr. Aiden Krone has stolen one of two special suits (the one he takes is known as the Alpha Suit) that allows him to jump across the space-time continuum. This has horrendous consequences and has caused a disturbing alternate reality to form. In an effort to sort out the mess the character you play as takes the second suit (the Beta suit) and attempts to stop Dr. Krone.
There can be no doubt that TimeShift’s key feature is its Time Powers. Thanks to your Beta Suit you are able to temporarily stop, slow and reverse the flow of time in order to accomplish your goals. This may seem like a great feature and in some ways it is. It’s possible to reverse the destruction of a bridge in order that you can cross it safely. You can freeze time in order to cross a pool of water that’s electrocuted. You can even put your enemies in slow motion so that you can pick them all off before they get a chance to think about shooting at you. There are many ways you can use the feature to solve various puzzles and deal with various enemies and from that standpoint it’s a good feature.
When you press the LB button the game will automatically use the appropriate Time Power (slow, stop or reverse). You can choose which power you want by holding down the LB button and pressing the appropriate button to select your power but you rarely need to do this. Maybe you should have had to pick the appropriate power. With the game doing it all for you, it takes away the need for any kind of strategy and that’s a shame. It’s possible to abuse the feature which takes a lot of the challenge out of the game. Thanks to the game’s radar you can see when enemies are in the vicinity and it’s possible to activate the Time Powers, pick off as many enemies as you can and then take cover whilst the Time Power bar replenishes at which point you can activate them again and go back to wiping out the enemies. Overuse of such a course of action really reduces the game’s difficulty.
Aside from the Time Powers you have access to; the game feels pretty much like a standard FPS. The game is also a linear experience and there isn’t really much of a reason to replay the single-player game (unless there are any achievements you may have missed out on). Whilst there’s nothing wrong with a linear experience, it is at odds with many of the more recent FPS games which often given you multiple ways of tackling a particular mission. In TimeShift it feels as though you have to stick to the chosen path through a mission and this is a little disappointing.
The game has a solid online offering and it also makes use of the game’s time bending powers. The modes on offer include Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, King of Time, Meltdown, Madness, Capture the Flag and One-on-One. The modes, which provide for team and solo play, have all been well done and come with time-distorting grenades to give the experience an original twist. There are various modifiers that you can choose if you want to freshen up the experience. There are just over a dozen maps in total, which is a good amount.
Whilst it’s not the most graphically advanced FPS on the 360, TimeShift is a good looking FPS with some rather impressive effects on display. The most impressive of these effects can be seen when using the Time Powers. Some of the distortion effects are particularly impressive. The game also has some impressive lighting effects too. Some environments do look much better than others, which does seem odd, but on the whole the game looks good. The frame rate is fairly solid for the most part but you will notice the occasional dip which is, thankfully, never problematic.
TimeShift is subtitled, although you’ll have to make sure you enable the subtitles before you start a new game. All of the important dialogue is displayed in text meaning you’ll be able to follow the game’s storyline, even if it is rather vague. Objectives are shown in text. You’re notified in text when you’ve received a new objective and you can recall these objectives by holding down the back button. The game’s peripheral comments aren’t subtitled, which is disappointing as they can often reveal extra details about what’s going on. The game’s radar (displayed on the top right of the screen) shows you where your enemies are in relation to your position and you’ll also see the general direction that you should be heading in by looking at it. For the most part the game is fine for deaf gamers.
It’s rather unfortunate for TimeShift that it arrives at an incredible period for 360 owning FPS fans. There’s a heck of a lot of top quality titles that have been recently released and it’s quite possible that TimeShift may be overlooked. In all honesty this would be a shame because TimeShift is quite enjoyable. It’s a little unfortunate that the game’s key feature, the Time Powers can be used in such a way as to take much of the game’s challenge away. That said though, there’s some fun to be had using the Time Powers and it’s certainly a game that most fans of the genre would gather some enjoyment from.