Not even the time shifting is very exciting. At first it's a lot of fun to play with the various enemies on the screen, but the joy of stealing guns and reversing grenades starts to lose its appeal when you realize that there's no challenge to it. The game itself is actually very easy, all one really needs to do is activate a time ability (such as the one where you slow down time) and then run around killing as many people as possible. Once you've run out of time that's your cue to run back to cover and wait until you can do it all over again. If you play the game like this you should have no problem beating the game in a roughly ten hours. Obviously you don't have to play the game like this, but TimeShift gives you very little incentive not to just be cheap with your powers.
As if the time powers didn't make the game entirely too easy to begin with, you are also given a whole collection of incredibly powerful weapons that make cutting through the enemies easy and painless. At any given time you can hold a few different weapons at once, so feel free to mix and match the guns as you feel fit. A lot of the weapon selection is right out of other first-person shooters, so expect a handgun, shotgun, automatic rifle, etc. The good news is that there are a few surprises along the way, as well as a few guns that don't act quite like you expect them to. Unfortunately these weapons are a little too effective, which means that if you couple these super powerful guns with the time shifting abilities you will be practically unstoppable. I suppose that's the point of the game, but outside of a few cheap deaths there just isn't much challenge in TimeShift.
With powers or without, TimeShift's story just isn't interesting enough to keep me captivated from beginning to end. While I'll give Sierra high marks for making the game longer than your average first-person shooter, some of it feels like they stretched only three or four hours of actual game into ten to twelve hours of repetitive shooting. Worse yet is the anticlimactic ending that fails to impress on every level. Gamers can have a moderate amount of fun while playing the single-player campaign, but it's hard not to feel a little let down given the potential of the gimmick they were working with.
When you're done with the single-player mode you can always head over to the slightly more exciting online multiplayer mode. The online multiplayer works pretty much as you would expect, only now you have to worry about people using time tricks to gain the upper hand. The way it works online is that you have these time grenades that will affect everything in a small blast radius. That is to say, you can throw a grenade that slows down time and only that small part of the map will actually be affected. In theory this is a great idea that can change the way we play online first-person shooters. Unfortunately this unique gameplay mechanic comes with a few hiccups that weigh this game down. For example, it's all too common for people to rely solely on the time grenades. When I played online it seemed like that was the first thing everybody did when they saw somebody else. I suspect that once the die-hard TimeShift players start to settle down you'll start to see more strategic gameplay, but so far that has not been my experience.
The online modes are pretty much what you would expect, including everything from Capture the Flag to Deathmatch to the One-on-One battles. There are a few interesting variations on the theme worth mentioning. The first is called King of Time and it involves players trying to control a time sphere, once you are holding the sphere you are impervious to all of the time attacks around you. Another mode is called Meltdown Madness. In this mode you work as a team to keep the other team's machine counting down by throwing the time grenades at it. The game also gives you the ability to create your own gametypes, as well as add new abilities to each of the players online. This is definitely the highlight of TimeShift, which is unfortunate given how groundbreaking this game could have been.
Despite its flaws, TimeShift is a solid looking action game from beginning to end. I do have a few issues with repeating backgrounds and textures, but for the most part the game looks surprisingly good. I act surprised only because of how long this game has been in development, given that the title was announced years ago I was expecting the game to look decidedly worse than it does. It's certainly not on the same level as Call of Duty 4 or BioShock, but there are moments when it comes awfully close. There are some effects early in the game that will definitely give you the impression that the game is going to be awesome. Sadly that is before you realize just how average it actually is.
Outside of some repetitive gameplay and a convoluted story, TimeShift is a decent action game with a few interesting gimmicks. Had this game been released earlier in the year when there was nothing else to play I can see it becoming something of a cult hit, but Sierra decided to put this game up alongside a half dozen of the biggest names in first-person shooting. When you have games like Call of Duty 4, Halo 3 and The Orange Box upping the high water mark, it's hard to come out with a shooter that is just average. You can tell that the developers are trying to do something original, but TimeShift is never as exciting and original as it could have been.
TimeShift has a great concept that should have added something new and original to the crowded first-person shooter genre. Unfortunately Sierra's newest action game is marred by a boring story, an easy difficulty and time shifting abilities that aren't nearly as much fun as they should have been.
This product was submitted by the publisher for review. As a rule, Defunct Games does not review games we spent money on. However, that does not always apply to classic/retro games. This specific product, however, came straight from a PR guy for the purposes of being reviewed!