Friday, January 11, 2013

The Suit! My Kingdom For The Suit!

This game took the really scenic route before, finally, finding its way home. Release dates were pushed back, again and again; publishers were changed (from ATARI to SIERRA), like horses while crossing a river: an equally bad idea. What finally reached the shore was nothing to brag about...

TimeShift runs for about 10-15 hours, not short yet not long either by regular standards (I mean "regular", mind you, not HalfLife2 Episodes which run shorter than demos). In all those hours the story never manages to engage you. Time travel has always been a mind bender to grasp - and this is especially true when the story is tissue-paper thin...True, most FPS games do not have thicker stories, yet great FPS games all had a much higher immersion factor.

In the original Unreal you tried to escape an alien planet. In HalfLife2 you either wandered the alien-infested underground Black Mesa or doing Mr Smith's biding in combine-controlled City 17. In Far Cry you investigated the attack on your boat by a group of mutant-creating mercenaries. In Max Payne, oh, don't get me started on Max Payne... In TimeShift you try to, well, get back a time-shifting suit from the evil doctor and then go back in time to amend the bad things he already did. Yeah, really exciting...

TimeShift manages to stay afloat by improving on old idea. Remember Max Payne's bullet-time? Well, in TimeShift you can actually stop or even reverse time. This is not unlimited of course and it has rather slow recharge cycle but it provides with a number of interesting possibilities: dodge bullets, throw back the live grenade, disarm the opponents and then use their own weapons against them...(if you die though, you do stay dead).
AI? What AI? I don't know whether it is due to going back and forth in time, but your enemies never raise above flatlined. Even without slowing time they will just walk in front of your mowing machine gun...

The one thing that did improve by the long wait were the graphics. Compared to early-released demos, there seems that a lot of work has been put into all of textures, surfaces and shadows. Slow time and watch for the explosions: they are really impressive! Combine this with a collection of really imaginative and impressive weapons and you have TimeShift major success. Incendiary projectiles anyone? And I really liked the abundance of ammo! (some FPS are so stingy with their ammo crates, you would think they actually had to pay for them!)

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