Thursday, 26 July 2012

TimeShift: Review

OK, so this week I’ve been playing TimeShift, a sci-fi shooter that was delayed and put back many times before its release. Due to these set-backs, I had high hopes that this game would be great, as they had continually put back the release as they were making it better, but I regret to inform you, that I was bitterly disappointed. Many aspects of this game fall short of the hopes that I had in store, and it does not come close to living up to the expectations I had.

The main problem is blatantly apparent throughout the course of the game. This flaw lies within the narrative. There isn’t much to go on, and you don’t get an explanatory cutscene to link together what you know. Every now and again as you play, you will get a brief flashback...of the a laboratory (at least, that’s what it looked like). But none of them seem connected. They all seem random, and don’t tell much more than what’s going on at that specific moment. By focussing intently on what was being said, spending a while trying to piece together what I had seen, and by eventually giving up and looking at the box, manual and eventually the internet, I have found that the story revolves around a guy called Krone, who has developed a suit known as the Alpha Suit. The Alpha Suit has allowed Krone to travel back in time and cause all kinds of havoc, altering the past to change the future, etc, etc. And now you (an unknown scientist) have donned the Beta Suit- a second time travel suit that lets you go back and stop Krone before he does any more damage. Beyond this basic outline however, I had no clue as to why I was doing what I was. For example, one mission has you infiltrating a prison, then escaping again straight after without even doing anything. The narrative all just felt like a jumbled mess, and that there was no real thought past “back in time, change the future, send back hero to stop him”.

Graphically, the game is average. There’s nothing particularly bad or good about it. Some of the scenery in the varied locations looks pretty good, and the places you go to all have their own distinctive look, from crumbling buildings, to dark sewers, to snowy mountains and more. The audio department also seem to have done a less than commendable job. The soundtrack that plays is instantly forgettable, and doesn’t stick with you, such as the likes of Skyrim or Uncharted, who’s themes have each become recognisable and memorable. The voice acting is...hardly there. Most of the things you hear are “there he is!” or “Get to cover!”, and wasn’t really something I paid much attention to. The sound effects for the weapons sound quite good, and do stand out among the average background noise that moves slowly from boring to annoying. Each weapon has a distinctive sound and look, which is one of the best points of the presentation of the game.

The gameplay is where things start to look up. You are given a vast range of weapons and grenades, each of which has both a primary and secondary fire mode. These modes are fun to play around with, and provide variety to the way you fight your enemies. You also get given the ability to slow, stop or even reverse time, which is the key element that makes this game stand out among its competitors. However, this game is no Prince of Persia. You cannot expect to reverse time after death, in order to bring yourself back for a second chance. The concept of manipulating time on the battlefield is an interesting idea for a first person shooter, but it is one that was never really fully explored. Due to the repetitive nature of the battles you find yourself in, you will also find yourself quickly returning to the same routines over and over. Freeze time, shoot some guys, retreat to cover, wait for the powers to recharge, rinse and repeat. As well as the gunplay, there are plenty of mind-numbingly dull “puzzles” to conquer. These involve minimal thinking, and the most basic of exploration. Most of them involve pulling a switch and freezing or slowing down time so that you can get to the door before it closes. Some require a small amount more thinking, but these are few and far between, and even when they are reached, it is still incredibly basic.

Where the game truly shines however is in its multiplayer. A wide range of unique and varied games to play online with friends. The idea of time manipulation is brought into these games in the form of chrono grenades, which creates a bubble, inside which everything is affected by the effect of the grenade thrown. One particularly fun mode involves using chrono grenades to delay the countdown on an enemy team’s machine. If for nothing else, the game is worth a try simply for the multiplayer.

After many setbacks, I was really looking forward to playing this game, but lots of problems arose, leaving me disappointed. A weak and disjointed story, leading to an anti-climactic boss fight had me wondering why I was fighting through hordes of enemies, weak graphics and forgettable sound effects meant that more than once I would be playing the game with music in my ears, and the unexplored concept of time manipulation makes me want and dread a sequel at the same time. There are some redeeming factors, such as the satisfying gunplay, the range of weapons and the varied multiplayer modes, but I wouldn’t recommend spending money to buy this game, it’s probably best to rent it.

5/10 – Not Brilliant

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