Timeshift - hands-on

Some four and a half months ago, Sierra bought this first person shooter from Atari. Since then, the storyline was completely rewritten, new voice talent was brought in, and the project got a top-to-bottom reboot. Having played it, we can honestly say that TimeShift has come along nicely- it's way better than before.

To recap: In the near future, you play as Col. Michael Swift (Ret), an ex-test pilot and decorated soldier. His wife having died in childbirth, he's dedicated the rest of his life to his daughter, and turns down a chance to test the Quantum Suit, which enables someone to travel through time. When his daughter is killed in a school bus crash however, with little left to live for, he volunteers for the trip. The idea is to go back in time to the office of the head of the project, Dr. Ivan Krone- the idea being that this is the one spot on Earth where Krone is certain no one will be for the duration of the test. Swift's mission is simply to place a probe at the site, then he'll return to the same spot 24 hours later and retrieve the probe (and hey, what's that bit of newspaper he's tucking into his glove as he makes that first trip?) Unfortunately, upon his return to the "present," Swift finds that the time stream has been severely altered, and that in this time stream, the world is run with a totalitarian hand by... Dr. Ivan Krone!

The game's main claim to fame is your ability to slow, stop or reverse the flow of time in the game, while you remain unaffected. Slowing time results in much the same "bullet time" power you've seen and played around with before, from Max Payne through Sierra's own F.E.A.R. The ability to completely stop time has some further effects, for example water becomes "solid" while fire becomes harmless. Reversing time is the trickiest part of the game to get a handle on because unlike a similar "human TiVo" idea in Prince of Persia, you yourself remain unaffected by the reversal. So if you fall off a cliff, reversing time won't pull you back to the top. On the other hand, if a box or crate were to fall off a balcony, you could hop on the box, reverse time, and ride the box back up to the balcony. Make sense?