Five years is quite a considerable amount of time in anyone’s book - half a decade to put it in perspective. In five years, we have seen the death of the world’s most infamous dictator; Great Britain have won the rights to host the 2012 Olympics; Tony Blair has finally resigned as Prime Minister and a whole new range of next generation consoles have surfaced, replacing the old. Maybe not as important an event, but for five years, Timeshift has been in the hands of two publishers; seen delays like the English see rain; and has been given a completely new look to boot. Now that it’s finally here, was it worth the long wait?
Considering how long Timeshift has been in development for, you’d think they’d at least give players a half decent story line to go in hand with the game’s very meaty single player campaign. Suffice to say it doesn’t – apparently a guy called Dr. Krone has stolen a suit with the ability to control and travel through time, creating some horrible alternate universe. Of course, it’s up to the player to take the other time suit and go wipe the smile off Krone, killing a lot of henchmen on the way. It’s like the kid in school who gets a few weeks extra time to complete their essay, yet still manages to balls it up; there just isn’t an excuse for such an uninspired story. But after a very Half Life 2-eqsue opening (a game thatdoes boast a superb plot funnily enough), players are let loose to go shoot some bad guys. And it’s here where Timeshift redeems itself slightly.
The core gunplay is very standard; the weapons on show are for the most part solid if unspectacular (it’s rather obvious that the thunderbolt is the torque bow from Gears of War in disguise). Players will spend most of their time grasping tightly to their shatter gun (Timeshift’s shotgun, basically), due to the fact that it is absolutely devastating from close range, and ammo conservation is never an issue. It’s disappointing that most of the other weapons (in particular your rifle, or the ‘Karbine’) make it feel like you’re shooting sandbags. The enemies will stand there taking clip, after clip, after clip of the stuff like some kind of crazed teen hooked on crack cocaine.
Friends can make the time go byAccompanying the single player game is a multiplayer mode that utilises all of the time controlling abilities in the form of three different chrono grenades, which affect anything that enters its blast radius. Players can duke it out in a host of ranked and unranked matches in a variety of different games modes. It’s not going to stop you playing Halo 3 by any means, but for anyone wanting some extra legs after finishing the game, there’s more than enough here on show to keep you entertained.Where things get a little different is with the time suit. Players have the capacity to stop, pause and rewind time at any point during gameplay. It can mean the difference between life and a face full of lead. A large group of enemies clustered together may on first inspection appear intimidating, but a careful and thoughtful use of your time-shifting abilities can, and usually does ‘shift’ the balance in your favour. However, this advantage is counterbalanced by the serious lack of any kind of cover. All too often, I found myself ambushed from all angles with nothing to hide behind to find my bearings, and slowing down time only served to delay the inevitable death that was sure to come my way. It’s certainly satisfying dispatching a few enemies in the blink of an eye, but this feature is put to better use elsewhere in the game. Puzzles are quite frequent in the single player, and while they’re never much more complicated than slowing down time to get through a closing gate, the puzzles are a nice breakaway from Timeshift’s relentless shootouts.
One area in Timeshift that is unequivocally impressive is the visuals. The game on the whole is very pretty. The environments are nicely varied, characters while on the generic side are well detailed and the weapons all look fantastic, each with their own distinct personality. Even more impressive is the rock solid 30 FPS that the game manages to maintain throughout the single player campaign. The only time the action will ever go to a crawl is when you feel like slowing down time. It gives Timeshift wonderful fluidity, and this is one department that will never let you down as you play.
It seems almost unfortunate that after all this time in development, Sierra had to pick the year that has seen the recent releases of FPS juggernauts Halo 3, The Orange Box and Call of Duty 4, to show the world their brand new title. Gamers looking for a solid shooter on the next gen consoles could do a lot worse than Timeshift, but as cruel as it may be, Timeshift will simply not be remembered in any way shape or form in the not so distant future. For all of the game’s time shifting shenanigans, it sure did pick the wrong time and place to finally make its long overdue debut.
Six out of ten