Upon returning to Trip Hawkins' CRAP-tacular vision of the future (i.e. the 3DO), I have determined two taglines that should have been used for Killing Time's marketing purposes: 1) Killing Time: "No Pun Intended", and my favorite, 2) Killing Time: "It's duck stompin' time!" You see, the title "Killing Time" is really a misnomer. While no physical harm comes to time itself, you can, in fact gleefully stomp zombie ducks with bone crunching, mid-nineties, Gen-X disregard for duck life. Only some may truly appreciate this aspect of the game, and in turn, the 3DO itself as a steaming pile of masterpiece. Let me elaborate a bit.
I believe it takes a certain type of person/gamer to truly appreciate the ability to stomp a zombie duck. These are not necessarily the hardcore, blog-obsessed, and already PS3-bored, add another hyphenation of your choice gamers. Nay, only those whom I have dubbed the "schlock elite" will find solace in Killing Time. Now that the mainstream has taken away our computer video games and geeks are sometimes even hot chicks, the schlock elite must delve further into obscurity to satiate their appetites. Those are the few and the proud who may appreciate Killing Time and who will get even closer to finding the heart, the soul, and the spleen of the 3DO gaming system. On to the game ...
The story of Killing Time is one of mystery and suspense. The mystery is that I don't have the foggiest idea what the story actually is, and the suspense is wondering if I ever will. Apparently, a professor has uncovered some secret evidence about something and has disappeared along with all traces of the evidence. You play a colleague of the professor who aims to solve this mystery. How this information has come to you, what with the lack of the professor and all evidence, will only be forever be part of the suspense. But there is a haunted house and 1930s flappers involved. This is all explained (or not explained) in a glorious intro narrative.
I'm far from an expert in 1930s architecture, but it seems, in the case of Killing Time, mansions had 10 foot high pink mazes that led to the front entrance. These mazes are filled with disgruntled duck hunters from 1985 who have come back into the past to reside in these mazes as well as in the house itself. I can only speculate this may have been some sort of secret government cloning experiment used to cut down on the zombie duck population. Unfortunately, these hunters will try to shoot you too. For some reason, they have not discovered that the zombie ducks can merely be stomped on and they insist on firing at everything that moves.
Also, these hunters must have had some sort of bullet-proof shell placed on their backs during the cloning process because, as stealthy as you want to be, you cannot shoot them unless they are facing you. Fortunately for you, aiming is really an afterthought, and firing the weapon of your choice at the hunters, or any enemy in the game mostly involves facing them, pulling the trigger, and praying. The developers must have decided that collision detection was not really important in the 1930s unless you would be running into pink walls or stomping ducks. It shines in those two areas. The whole thing is presented well enough. It's Doom in and about a haunted mansion. The main difference is that enemies are not cartoons, but fully digitized "actors". You will also run into digitized ghosts of house guests who help develop the "story". It looks pretty good for it's' age, if only you could control your character.
When one is trapped in a large pink maze and then inside a haunted mansion, normal kinesthetic physics do not apply. Rather than the expected guerilla warfare type movement in other lesser FPS's, moving in Killing Time is more like a waltz. Forward, backward, side to side, and strafing is what you get. Sounds reasonable if only it performed in such a way. The problem is that you really can't get to where you'd like to go. This may sound like a problem inherent in the game, but may be viewed more positively as an exercise in patience. Once you spend an hour or two stomping ducks outside and then getting into the house (thankfully there is a map), you will find that the control is no more responsive than it was before, but maybe, just maybe you have grown as an individual. Oh yeah, and then the bees attack (yes, not just ducks, bees too!) and then you die. Save your game.
The sound effects and music in the game set the mood appropriately. The music ranges from Dead Can Dance on a Casio keyboard to freestyle jazz on, well, the same Casio keyboard. But if you tire of the music, don't fret; it changes as you move through different sections of the game. The sound effects primarily consist of quacking ducks, buzzing bees, and ghosts saying unintelligible things. If you never wanted to stomp ducks before, you will after listening to incessant quacking for hours on end. But it's all good.
So how do I, your reviewer, feel about the experience that is Killing Time? I enjoyed it. There, I said it. I found the fun in it. I found the spleen of the 3DO. On a scale of 1-10, I give it 8 Shaky Jakes. Try it yourself and display it proudly next to your Killer Klowns From Outer Space DVD.