Oct 30, 2007
It's been a tough year to be a first-person shooter. With the bar being set ludicrously high by games like Halo 3, BioShock, The Orange Box, and Call of Duty 4, we are in a golden age of action titles. It's a bit hard, then, to recommend the fourth-dimensional shooter TimeShift amongst such a crowded field. Don't be mistaken - this is a solid offering - but its paint-by-numbers design and undercooked story will have a tough time holding your attention, though its multiplayer mode will be the biggest temptation.
Set (initially) in the near future, TimeShift's narrative drive is the evil Dr. Krone, a scientist who invents a chrono-suit - think of it as a wearable version of Back to the Future's DeLorean - and then uses it to go back in time and alter history such that he's a badass and everyone else isn't. Fortunately, there's a second suit (the "beta" suit), which you use to follow him through time and stop him.
The core gameplay is satisfying at first. You can slow, stop, or rewind time in small chunks, and the otherwise basic combat is enhanced because of it. Catching bad guys sitting in their chairs at evil work, then pausing time, putting two pistol bullets in the back of their heads, and resuming time only to see them drop dead instantaneously is a sadistic treat.
The fast recharging times on your suit also do a good job of encouraging frequent use of your abilities, and the basic puzzles pop up often enough to actually force you to go 4D. Unfortunately, both the time powers and puzzles are lacking in variety. Most involve pausing time to sneak through spinning fan blades that would otherwise tear you to bits or one of a couple other basic formulas, and they never challenge you to incorporate more than one time element.
TimeShift is also guilty of being all-too-formulaic. You'll run into your standard vehicle and gun-turret levels in the middle areas of the game, which do serve to break up the action, but not in a way that's more fun than what you were already doing.
Multiplayer, however, is TimeShift's strongest element. "Time grenades" are how the designers work the 4D elements into the action, with grenades exploding to create liquid-y pockets of slowed, stopped, or rewound time that affect anyone caught inside them. It just works, and coupled with a healthy 14-level map complement, customizable host options, and an array of game modes, it's the one area of TimeShift that shouldn't be overlooked.
If it had been released in 2004, TimeShift probably would've been the bee's knees. In 2007, though, it's merely a one-hit wonder in a sea of timeless gaming anthems.