We had high hopes for this. Were they met?
Xbox 360, PS3, PC
It's difficult to be really harsh on TimeShift - don't get me wrong, I really do want to. It's uninspired to the point of ridiculousness and the time controls are a lot duller than they first seem, but there's just something about it. It doesn't do anything particularly special, but what it does do it does in a particularly acceptable fashion. It's the epitome of: "okay, I guess." I never wanted to vomit blood from my eyes while playing, nor did I want to dedicate any of my many recently-written love songs to it.
Surely things should be punished for being merely "okay, I guess"? Surely the all-important number at the end of these arbitrary words should be low because of it? I think so, but I can't bring myself to do it. For the simple reason that a few times playing TimeShift, I had fun. So the time controls are a bit crap and we've seen everything the game does before in every other game ever made, but so what when I'm laughing at shooting someone in the face with a shotgun when time has been frozen? It isn't consistent and the novelty soon wears off, and soon enough you're reduced to a pattern of slow time/kill some bad 'uns/hide round a corner to recharge/repeat from start but at rare points things are dragged out of monotony.
Basically what TimeShift is is a straight-forward futuristic FPS. It's full of the wankerish marines that seem to be littering every game made these days and has a real feel of 'we tried to rip off Half Life but couldn't really be bothered' about it. The game suffered a lot of delays in its creation with developers changing and the game being scrapped at points, but it made it through. And it's pretty easy to tell that it's a very confused game. In a world of Half Life 2s, Crysis and Halo 3s this offers absolutely nothing to recommend spending £50 on it. Or £40, or £30. Talk £20 or less and it's probably worth a pop, but for anything approaching a real price it's best ignored. Yet still I don't hate the damn thing.
So, the time controls. You have three - slow-mo, stop and rewind. They can be used whenever you please as long as your timesuit majiggy has enough charge, except for rewind which is disabled half the time to stop you from creating a paradox (or to stop things from getting interesting). Slow motion does exactly that - it's your basic bullet time, it does the job you expect and it sees by far the most use through the game. Even though it's been done a billion times before, it's still a satisfying aspect of the game. Stop does a that there stop to the time of the world that is there indeed.
It doesn't last too long, but when it's on you can run around shooting people that don't react until time starts again, or go up to them and steal their weapons out of their hands (it isn't as much fun as it sounds). It's more useful for the puzzles - more on that in a sec - and isn't hugely effective in firefights thanks to its short lifespan. Rewind is more or less useless and seems to have been put in solely to add a third aspect to the timesuit majiggy.
Along your travels a number of puzzle situations are encountered, and they all require time manipulation in some way to progress. 'Good golly gosh!' you must be thinking, 'that sounds mighty mega interesting there oh Ian whom we really like!' Well you're wrong, and I hate you. What could have lifted TimeShift from bland alrightitude to really-rather goodness fails miserably. The simple failure comes with the 'time suit AI', which apparently picks the most suitable time power for any given situation.
What this translates as is: the game solves the puzzles for you, and you end up progressing by pressing one button and moving. There's no thought and it's bloody patronising. It's cool the first couple of times you stop time to walk on water or rewind it to access a lift, but the fact that it's nothing more than letting the game do the work for you is pretty insulting and a huge missed opportunity.
The developers have tried to mix things up a bit, meaning there are some vehicle and on-rails sections thrown in, but they're pretty dull. The ATVs handle like absolute arse and the turret sections can be infuriating at times - I mean at least they tried, bless their little faces, but it's just another flat aspect of a drab experience.
I'm sure there's supposed to be a story in TimeShift somewhere, but it all came across as a massive steaming pile of bollocks so it was probably ignored in favour of more slow motion killeroo times. Time suit, something stolen, changed time, woman smiles at you, no one cares, apparently (according to a loading screen shown numerous times) you are a 'well respected physicist'. Good to know. Bollocks, but good to know. It's easily the worst part of the game, but you can ignore it by closing your eyes and screaming whenever a pointless cutscene interrupts play. It's the only option, really, as cutscenes are unskippable.
There's also some kind of multiplayer in TimeShift, but bar a couple of amusing aspects - time grenades being at the forefront - it isn't worth much of your time. Especially not with the dozens of other genuinely brilliant multiplayer games out on the 360 and PC right now. Even the PS3 is sure to have games more worthy of your online playing time. It's another shame, as the time powers could have made for something genuinely innovative. Instead they mirror the single player mode perfectly as a mere gimmick.
If you go into TimeShift expecting a wonderful experience crafted through many years of development then, well, you're an idiot anyway, and you'll leave disappointed. If you go in with low expectations (yo) you may be pleasantly surprised. A few times at least. I wouldn't recommend it, but if you get the chance to have a bash for a few hours it certainly wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.