Games for Lunch: TimeShift
0:01 A quick initial load, and a rainy futuristic dystopia appears behind the title/menu screen. Shades of Half-Life 2's totalitarian state.
0:02 Dear lord. A quick look at the options screen shows a function for every single button, control stick and d-pad direction on the 360 controller. Some even have multiple purposes! I hope they have a good tutorial...
0:03 I can choose between Casual, Skilled and Elite difficulties. I'll choose Casual, so I can check things out without stressing out.
0:04 'The entire building has collapsed and it was on top of a huge underground facility. This might be the cause of the citywide power outage.' As believable TV reporter-speak goes, it's not the best. The introductory cut scene features quick jumps to an attack by an unseen someone in an 'alpha suit.' Time reverses and the collapsed building is back up. 'S.S.A.M' is online. Someone is running through a hallway, screaming for everyone to evacuate. A guy in a time bubble disappears. A suit attaches itself to a guy's body. 'What are you, crazy? The suit's not ready!' a scientist says before being killed in an explosion. The suited guy is saved and teleported out using...time powers?! I'm pretty confused, but pretty intrigued, too.
0:07 'Time jump successful,' says a robotic voice. I'm in an alternate timeline of 1939. Whoops... I accidentally hit a button to skip the cut scene. Now some guy is telling me he 'didn't want to wake [me] until the suit stopped making noises.' For someone from 1939 he's pretty blas&eacure; about a guy in a futuristic super-suit. Maybe this was explained in the skipped cut scene? Anyway, our building is under attack. Time to fight?
0:08 HEAVY shades of Half-Life 2 as I walk around the bombed-out building and a televised voice drones on about 'registration.' Resistance fighters talk in an off-handed manner about their dilapidated surroundings. Despite the wreckage, everything is kind of shiny and glossy...pretty off-putting. The camera shakes horribly with each explosion...quite annoying.
0:10 My guide and I finally make it to the meeting room, where some 'resistance fighters' drone on about their next attack.
0:12 Suddenly, a sentry busts through a wall and annihilates everyone in the room. I'm left alive and unscathed...until I move, and the sentry notices me. I duck behind something but can't figure out how to take out my weapon and fire back. U R DED. Great...
0:13 'You are a highly respected physicist with a hidden past...' says the loading screen. Subtle. Most good literature I've read doesn't come right out and say the main character has a 'hidden past.'
0:15 This sentry is hilarious. If I stand in the corner and don't take a step, it'll stare right at me without shooting. Standing and waiting makes for a pretty boring game though, so I step out and try to find something to stop it. Soon enough, I'm dead again...
0:17 Oh lord... There's a door through which I'm supposed to go to escape. So I wasn't supposed to fight back. In my defense, this seems like a less-than-intuitive solution for a game based on shooting and time control.
0:18 Heh. My escort jumps a small wall. I try to follow but I can't make it over with my puny jump. I'm annoyed, until a building comes down on the guy. I guess it's my lucky day.
0:19 In the background: 'As a result, every prisoner of war has been executed.' Wow, I wish I heard the beginning of THAT thought.
0:21 Outside now. I'm supposed to get up a fire escape while a random stranger covers me (how thoughtful!). The rain makes it hard to see anything further than two inches from my face though. Sigh.
0:22 Finally, I get a weapon. Nice of this random resistance guy to give me his. Maybe if I hadn't skipped that cut scene earlier, I'd know why they're being so nice. I see a guy giving CPR to his resistance buddy. I try to shoot the downed guy, to put him out of his misery, you know. The bullet goes right through.
0:23 Someone busts down a door, and I fire wildly through the smoke at the muzzle flare. Pretty cool.
0:27 It takes four bursts of fire directly to an enemy's unarmored head to take down one guy. Sheesh. And this is the Casual difficulty?
0:28B My suit tells me I've found Dr. Aiden Krone, the televised totalitarian I'm supposed to be tracking down...but I don't see him.
0:29 Nearly a half hour in to a game called 'TimeShift' and I have yet to use any time-shifting abilities. I have figured out how to shoot grenades, which is kind of cool.
0:36 Still no time stuff, but I am part of a cool battle with a big robotic spider.
0:37 The spider blows up our enclave and I'm being dragged back through the time-stream. Finally, some time stuff! Not that I control it or anything. Some loading, and then, 'Time-jump failure, auto-shift aborted.' Now I can control time with a tap of LB. Nice.
0:39 I like the animation on the non-player characters. Pretty lifelike...unless you look at their faces. EUAGH!
0:40 I try slowing down time in a firefight. I can see the individual raindrops trickling through the air...neat! The time-slowing gives me time to find the last remaining enemy and take him out. It doesn't really help with the giant, Metal Gear-style mech that comes in. Or maybe it does...the game tells me I've succeeded at 'defending occupant position' even though the mech is still bearing down. Don't ask me...I just work here.
0:42 So pumping magazine after magazine of lead into this mech thing doesn't seem to be working. Time to look for a plan B.
0:45 Eventually I find an escape route from my encampment. As I escape, the corridor in front of me starts to crumble. I have to reverse time to get through, then resume it to let it fall behind me. Seems a bit staged...
0:47 OK, that was cool. I just stopped time and took a guy's weapon from him. The look on his face when he came out of the freeze was priceless.
0:49 So these time-shift abilities are feeling a bit overpowered now. I mean, how hard is it to kill a guy when he's not moving? Sure, their use is limited, but the meter recharges, so I just have to find cover, wait, pause and repeat. Yawn.
0:51 Another priceless moment -- beating a guy in melee mode while time is paused, then watching him fly to the ground when time resumes. Reminds me of the trailer to that awful movie, 'Click.'
0:55 Figuring out where to go is a constant problem. The environments are just messy... There's clutter everywhere, and everything is sort of the same dull color scheme. Then again, this might just be a personal problem, as I often have trouble navigating 'realistic' spaces.
0:58 So the radar shows I should be on top of a couple of enemies, but they're nowhere to be seen. A glitch, or personal incompetence? You decide, because I have no idea.
Would I play this game for more than an hour? No.
Why? I'm not the biggest fan of first-person shooters to start with, and this one seems mediocre-to-standard with a decent-if-hackneyed gimmick on top. Pass.
This column is based on a retail copy of the game provided by Vivendi.
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