Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Master time to become the Ultimate Weapon

Timeshift
Game Category: First Person Shooter
Developer / Distributor: Saber Interactive / Sierra Entertainment
Release Date: 30 Oct 2007 
Rating: ESRB - Mature

Introduction
Listening to the lyrics of Aqua as Lene Nystrøm croons out "If only I could turn back time" on the radio today, I can't help but think back on this cool game from four years ago that allowed me to master time and make me into one very happy gamer.

Timeshift is the name of the game, and it comes courtesy of Saber Interactive and Sierra Entertainment. Saber Interactive's last project before this was Will Rock which was kind of a let down, and I had a funny feeling that Timeshift would be just as bad; this opinion was reinforced by Timeshift's troubled development history.

Timeshift tells the story of the building of a time machine in the form of a jump suit. Two of these jump suits are built, but one of them, the Alpha Suit, is stolen by Dr. Aiden Krone, a former Professor of Applied Physics. As the protagonist, you will be donning the Beta Suit, a newer version built to military specifications, to go after Aiden in a bid to stop him from creating a time paradox or worse still, annihilate all life thanks to his selfless act.

I have always been thrilled by such science fiction yarns. Suffice to say, I am glad that Timeshift saw the light of day and that I made the wise choice to get myself a copy back then.

Now, here's why...

The next big thing
Game Play
The first thing that grabs you as you start the game is that you get a single player and multiplayer mode as well as some unlockables waiting for you in the wings. Single player will take you through a 24 mission campaign that will impress you with some pretty impressive visuals. Multiplayer lets you share the pain either on LAN or on the Internet with up to 16 players. That's quite a lot of mayhem, that is if you can find someone to play with.

Single player starts you off with some very good videos explaining the background to the story and throwing you into an alternate time stream where Aiden has proclaimed himself the ruler of the Krone Magistrate. Such tyrannical actions don't bode well for the Occupants, an anti-Krone rebellion led by Commander Mason Cooke. You will team up with the Occupants and together hope to defeat Aiden and his army.

Just do it
Multiplayer is quite a delightful feature in Timeshift. I absolutely love it for its customization features. There are six pre-defined game modes that you can select from:
  • Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, and One-on-one are standard multiplayer flavors.
  • King of Time throws in a Time Sphere that you must nab to become resistant to all time effects.
  • Meltdown Madness needs you to throw Chrono Grenades at your enemy's "machine" to prevent it from counting down and therefore allowing them to win.
You can edit almost anything in these game modes and save them to create your very own multiplayer game style. Some of the parameters you can edit include weapons, time control, items, gameplay, player, and miscellaneous settings. You can also tweak game and server settings till your heart's delight. There are even presets that simulate low gravity, sniping (one shot one kill), rocket arena, vampire and more options.

Have it your way
Timeshift's HUD has some unique features so I thought I'd share with you some of them:
  • There's the Weapons Bar at the the top left hand corner. The top row shows you your timeshifting powers. The turquoise bar right at the top indicates how much timeshift power your Beta suit currently has. The second row shows you the weapons and grenades you are carrying. You can equip yourself with up to three types of weapons and any type of grenade. 
  • You'll see a blue window at the bottom left or right which are essentially tutorial instructions or hints on what to do next. This is a function of the Artificial Intelligence in your suit known as the Strategic System for Adaptable Metacognition (or S.S.A.M.) - hey, I didn't make this up.
  • At the upper right corner is your radar showing your objective marker, friendlies, and enemies. There is also a light green shield meter on the left edge of the radar. If you get hit, the light green bar will drop. Reaching zero means it's game over. Find a safe place of refuge and your Beta suit will automatically recharge the shield meter.
Functional... Fashionable... Formidable...
Arguably one of the best parts of Timeshift are the weapons and timeshifting powers.

There are nine weapons that make me really enjoy switching to Timeshift a lot! Each weapon has two modes of operation, with the secondary attack mode being more spectacular.

Here's an idea of what you will get - there's the KM-33, a standard futuristic one-handed pistol; trust in your KM 2103 Karbine, an automatic rifle cum grenade launcher - groovy; the Echo Rifle can snipe as a secondary mode; the E.M.F. Cannon shoots a magnesium projectile, shoot and watch the bodyparts rip apart; the Hell-Fire is one mean flamethrower in the secondary attack mode. You also get two varieties of grenades and mines to round up your arsenal.

Impossible is nothing
I leave the best for last.

Timeshifting allows you to manipulate the fourth dimension - time. It's imperative that you master the timeshifting ability early on in the game, as you will very often rely on it to beat the odds or to bypass a puzzle that can only be solved by stopping or reversing time itself.  Here is exactly what you can do with this skill:
  • Slow down time for a short while. Use this skill and they'll never know what hit them.  
  • Stop time for brief moments. Useful for sticky situations.
  • Reverse time to rewind time and have a second chance.
The Perfect Experience
The enemies in Timeshift are one mean bunch. They like to attack you by swarming towards you. You have to take them out early or at least rely on your timeshifting powers to hold them back.

Enemies are humans of varying skills - there's the common infantry soldier who just acts as cannon fodder. Some of these guys do carry more potent weapons, so be on the look out; next up would be soldiers who can move really fast, you need to rely on your timeshifting powers to have a better chance at defeating them; then there's soldiers wielding shields, quickly use the stop timeshifting ability to take them out when their guard is down.

There are occasions when you see huge vehicular transports or tanks, mechanical sentinels, huge flying machines, and more. These truly add to the immersiveness of the game, it's really like you are in a believable alternate universe.

I am what I am
Graphics
The graphics are really sweet in this first person shooter. The shader effects really make an impact especially when in the Timeshifting mode. The fire and water effects are also pretty well done. The levels are quite huge and expansive, although there are exceptions which makes for quite a good mix. You also get some variety in your missions - you get to man a turret and even drive a four-wheeled Quad.

The video cutscenes are nicely done although I found it a little hard to make sense of the entire story.  Don't forget, you can watch all your movie cutscenes by selecting the Unlockables option in the main menu. Incidentally, you also get quite a number of nice sketches for the game.

The 3D models are very nicely detailed, especially some of the larger stuff that you will see in the game. Even the enemy deaths will wow you as they get shot at, pulverized, eviscerated, or immolated in more ways than one.

Fly the friendly skies

Audio
I personally thought the music soundtrack was quite exciting. The thirteen songs all await you under the Unlockable option, so endeavor to complete the first month The sound effects are also pretty realistic with great explosion sounds as well as neat interface beeping sounds. The voice acting in the game and the cutscenes are pretty decent stuff, and I can say that they certainly didn't slouch on that front.

Game Analysis
Timeshift at its core is a first person shooter that throws in the gimmick of time manipulation. It doesn't win any awards for this addition because most of the time it's pretty evident when you must use your timeshifting abilities.
Life's Good
For the uninitiated, the game could be rather difficult since the enemies will swarm you with impunity. More often than not, you are going to see that red haze that represents your character's death in the game. The movie rewards you get to watch is a hodgepodge of snippets that are just didn't make sense to me. Well, nevermind, the shooting action is fun and good in Timeshift.

Pros:
  • The fact that you can actually manipulate time in the game makes it a good choice to get yourself a copy. Your other options to defend yourself are also quite impressive.
  • The game features very good graphics, and there are also some interesting situations you will encounter during the game.
  • It's going to take at least 8 - 12 hours to complete the entire game. 
  • Quite a number of unlockables (videos, sketches, and music) await your bid in unlocking them.
  • There's the excellent multiplayer mode that can be configured as much as you desire.
    Solutions for a small planet
    Cons:
    • Science fiction story that fails miserably. 
    • The game is challenging especially if you don't use your timeshifting abilities often enough. Get ready to be whacked big time!
    • On the flip side, the game gets too easy because the shield meter automatically recharges during lull periods. If you adopt the saying, "Live to fight another day", then you are bound to find this game to be a breeze.
    Conclusion
    Timeshift is a decent first person shooter with some innovative features waiting for the discerning gamer to discover. The game does deliver on the first person shooting part but fails in the story department. The multiplayer mode hinges on providing the best customizable options that I have seen in quite a long time.

    Get the game for yourself today, I trust you will enjoy what they have in store for you.

    The ultimate driving machine
    Daily PC Game Review Score: 7.5 / 10
    Review Date: 28 Jun 2011

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