I remember playing TimeShift in numerous preview incarnations way back, back when to put it bluntly it was a god-awful game and it looked pretty terrible. I was always sceptical when I heard mention that the bods at Atari had dropped it and Sierra had picked it up. Yet my curiosity waned as time moved on, until once again whilst poking around Gametrailers I spied a TimeShift trailer.
I was curious again; could this be the same game from what seemed like eons past? It was!
The trailer was slick and it seemed to hint at a promise of things to come.
For the last couple of days I've been playing it, between bouts of the Witcher, to see if the developers could redeem themselves. I have to admit that I'm actually impressed with what they've done. The engine and the game itself has been torn down, rebuilt, torn down, rebuilt and has come together rather well this time. It won't stand shoulder to shoulder with the big A-1 titles that are out now or soon, but the most important thing is it keeps its head above water.
TimeShift can be a confusing game in terms of story however, there could have been more made of the game's plot and it definitely needs some polish in that area. There are events where you know what's going on and suddenly you're in another area without a clue why you're there. You have no name to identify the character with and unlike Gordon Freeman your John Doe style scientist is just locked into the game's Beta 'TimeShift' Suit.
Some uber-badass scientist has stolen the Alpha Suit and left you with the slightly less impressive one. Said scientist has gone back into the past and altered the present spewing forth a massive amount of alternate time-lines and turning himself into the unmitigated ruler of everything. You on the other hand dive into the Beta Suit and attempt to follow him.
You very quickly learn that TimeShift is a flawed gem; it shines so brightly in places but then tends to reflect dully in others. There's some gorgeous level design and architectural direction in many of the game's areas, but so many of them feel as though they were carved out of lifeless stone and after seeing the former you begin to notice the latter all the more.
The same can be said for the enemy models and various other models in the game, there are some really detailed ones and then some pretty bland ones. It's like someone lost heart mid-way through a design and then suddenly they were inspired. The same can be said about the whole experience of TimeShift, except the multiplayer, that has some innovative and downright fun things thrown in.
The game focuses on FPS combat, there are some truly overpowered weapons in the singleplayer and the crossbow is the most dangerous piece of your kit. Fitted with explosive bolts that dish out a massive amount of damage, it's supposed to be too easy to dodge. Only one problem for the bad guys, you're a TimeShifting badass that can slow, rewind and stop time.
Slow down time with the crossbow and enemies can't dodge the bolts, since they're not affected by your chronological trickery.