Timeshift Xbox 360 Review
Time is of course relative, but regardless of how you’ve experienced the last few years we all have had quiet a long wait for Timeshift to make an appearance. However, with a gaming market that is now flooded with FPS games it is hard to feel like the wait has been truly worth it. In fact, I’d dare say that this is a very bad time to release an FPS game, but I won’t do that as it would be a terrible pun. Although this intro seems to be on the verge of turning out less than complimentary, that is not to say that Timeshift is bad game, although it not that great either.
Alas, it seems the game unfortunately skirts that dangerous edge of been not been good enough to love, but at times almost been bad enough to hate. This is a pity as Timeshift certainly tries to impress. What’s more, the development team certainty cannot be accused of laziness as they put in a whole year of overtime on the project to try and deliver a great product. But with so many FPS games hitting all formats over the past few months, and with all of us having some serious fun with Halo 3, and multiple Half Life 2 releases, Timeshift was going to have to be something truly special to stand out from the crowd, and to put it quite bluntly Timeshift is not that special.
However, in an effort to get out of this downer, let’s speak about the game’s opening, an opening which does a pretty good job of getting the player somewhat excited for what’s to come. Once you get control of your character there are even faint echoes of Half Life 2’s City-17 intro sequence, even going so far as the copy the large TV sequence with a voice-over narrating what has happened to make the world the way it is. However, the game has a much bleaker, desolate, arguably less impressive tone than Valve’s shooter. Also the game introduces the shifting mechanics well, letting you experience the first 10 minutes of the game without access to the title’s main draw before giving you access to them.
Once you get to use the suits power you find that your suit has AI – called S.A.M.M. This AI will choose the best option for different combat situation – automatically slowing, pausing or reversing time. You can override it but usually there is no need. One part I really did like about the game was the ability use the time effects with grenades, letting you manipulate the enemies to take out loads in one large explosion. In all honesty, this was one of the few aspects of the game I found really satisfying. Furthermore, the ability to snatch a weapon out of the hands of a paused foe is not that bad either. From there you are left to play through the games relatively generic story using the above techniques. However, it is a story so generic that I resorted to doing Derek Acorah impressions every time S.A.M.M was mentioned.
What’s that S.A.M.M? Oh yes, I better mention that the game also boasts a few puzzles to break up the shooting, although it has to be said that they are far from taxing on the mind. As a result of this you never really get a feeling of accomplishment upon besting one of them. For example, at one point in the game you have to set a bomb, but the countdown timer is too short to get away safely. Of course, the answer to this is that you need to pause time to get away safely. Then, at another point, a door closes before you can reach it, and as you can most likely guess you have to use your time suit to pause time before that happens. A few nicer puzzles such as stopping time to walk on water, or walk through flames are also included, but you never really feel like the developer pushed themselves to come up with exciting puzzles ideas. In fact, I go as far as to say that some of the stuff seen years ago in the likes of Viewtiful Joe and Blinx were much smarter.
When you go online for some multiplayer action it is all change for Timeshift, with quite a large, erm shift, in how it plays. The game has your typical deathmatch, CTF, team based games, along with a few other unique modes, but with the game’s trademark time controls slightly restricted, and now only accessed through the Chrono Grenade item. When you throw one of these grenades it creates a sphere, and inside that sphere all time gets affected depending on which type you’ve thrown. This mechanic works very well and can lead to some exciting games which are unique to the title. Also, with 14 maps on show there is some diversity to be had with the large amount of environments and modes on show.
So, at best, I’d have to say that Timeshift plays like a last-gen game, but with some exciting next-gen sheen to mask some of the glaring flaws. It has to be said the ability to shift time is a revolutionary idea for first person shooters, and just like Portal it had a great chance to push the genre forward. However, the end result is no where near the quality needed to herald Timeshift as the avant-garde of the genre. When all is said and done the shifiting mechanic on show does not add enough appeal to make the game feel like the truly original approach it could have been. As an unfortunate result of this the game not very daring, not very interesting, and crucially, for the most part, not very good.
If there was ever a game that screamed January sales then this is it.