TimeShift Exclusive Hands-On - A Sneak Peak at the Upcoming Demo

We get our first hands-on time with this upcoming sci-fi first-person shooter.

Manipulating time is hardly a new feature in first-person shooters. "Bullet time" or slow motion has been a popular staple in games ever since The Matrix introduced the world to the cool visual concept. TimeShift wants to go much further than bullet time, though. This sci-fi shooter from Sierra and Saber Interactive will let you really mess around with the flow of time. You'll get a chance to play with a demo of the game this August, but we got an early hands-on play through of what to expect.

To make a long story short, TimeShift is about a scientist who steals a top-secret time suit and alters the course of history, and your character is packed into a "beta" version of the suit and sent after him. Your suit has its own artificial intelligence personality that helps guide you through the game, as well as three powers: It can temporarily stop, slow, and reverse time. Of course, the suit keeps you and your weapons immune from all its effects, so you can use your time powers to your advantage. Are you being attacked by too many enemies? Then stop or slow time and quickly unload a few rounds into several opponents; they'll drop dead as soon as time is restored. Or run up to a frozen enemy, grab the weapon out of his hands, and then restore the flow of time and blast him at point blank range with his own gun. With the suit, time is on your side.

TimeShift is sort of like a first-person shooter with VCR controls.

The upcoming demo is taken out of the second level in the game, after you've arrived in an alternate history Earth where a ragtag insurgency is battling the high-tech forces of Krone, the scientist who stole the time suit to rewrite history. When the demo starts, you'll discover several insurgents being beaten up by soldiers. That won't do, of course, so you eliminate the soldiers and make some new friends. You'll also find yourself in a war-torn city that's going to hell, as battles are raging everywhere, and the goal of the demo is to get through the fracas in one piece. That involves a battle that's not unlike the latter stages of Half-Life 2, when you're running around the gutted City 17. In fact, the fictional city in TimeShift bears a certain resemblance to City 17, as it has a somewhat European look to it.

As you move through the level you'll engage in large-scale set piece battles, with rebels usually on one side and enemy forces on the other. It's a pretty chaotic mess. Huge, mechanized walkers lumber about, as well as helicopter gunships. Meanwhile, the bright red laser beams of sniper designators cut through the darkness. Buildings will collapse in somewhat scripted events, though it does show off the game's physics system. And you'll get plenty of practice using your time powers in firefights. For instance, if you're pinned down by enemy fire, you can slow time to pop out from cover and fire a few rounds at the guy pinning you down, and then duck back behind cover before he can even react. One of the nice visual aspects of the game is that it's raining heavily through the level, which means whenever you slow or stop time you actually see the raindrops hang or slowly fall on the screen.

We played the Xbox 360 demo, so to slow time all you have to do is tap the left bumper once. To stop time, tap it twice. A meter in the top left of the screen indicates how much power the time suit has. Slowing time will empty a fully-charged meter in about 10 or 12 seconds, while stopping time drains the meter twice as quickly. If the suit is inactive, the meter slowly recharges. While you have control over stop and slow, you can't really kick in reverse at any time. That's because the developers discovered that it was far too easy to break the game that way. So now reverse is a contextual time power, it kicks in at certain moments of the game. For instance, a walkway that you need to get through suddenly explodes in your face. No problem, activate time power and time reverses; the walkway suddenly comes back and you can sprint across before time moves forward again. TimeShift uses a regenerating health system like those found in the Halo and Call of Duty games. If you take too much damage, you'll die. However, if you're hurt and you can avoid getting shot for a few seconds, you'll automatically restore back to full health.

You've got some time to kill.

You'll have up to nine weapons in the game, and we were able to play around with a few of them. There's a standard assault rifle with a grenade launcher, a crossbow that's similar to the one found in Half-Life 2, and an automatic shotgun. The assault rifle has a nice punch to it, as well as a cool magazine ejection animation (all the weapons in the game have neat reload animations), but the grenade launcher is useful for knocking down guard towers and clearing out rooms. The crossbow is a decent sniper weapon that fires explosive bolts. And the automatic shotgun is your best friend during indoors combat, as it can spit out a stream of shotgun shells in no time flat, though the reload times can be a bit long when you're in the middle of a fight. There are also grenades, which can stick if they land on an opponent. On the flip side, they can also stick on you, though one of the nice things about having a time suit that has its own AI is that it can save you by automatically kicking in time reverse, which makes the grenade fly off of you. Finally, there are weapon turrets that you can man in the game. An example of this is found late in the demo, when you stumble upon a tripod-mounted machine gun that's conveniently pointed toward a large open area that's filled with enemy soldiers. While powerful, the machine gun has the downside of fixing you in place, and the enemies are pretty good about lighting you up with weapons fire.

The demo offers up intense urban battles, and it should takes about 15 or 20 minutes to get through if you know what you're doing, though your first time through may take longer as you figure out where you have to go and what you have to do. Still, the demo will showcase the combat and time powers in the game quite nicely. TimeShift has progressed quite a bit over the past year, when it was delayed on the cusp of completion in order to revamp the game. The fruits of Sierra and Saber Interactive's labor will ship later this year.

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Discussion

136 comments
gacmyver
gacmyver

hey futil1ty, your question is answered by time grenades!

nate64
nate64

if you want to know about the multiplayer i'm pretty sure they talked about it in there e3 coverage of the game.

DirkVDV01
DirkVDV01

A nice change from the original game that first became available as a demo. I do wonder what they are going to do to add multiplayer support to this... it could lead to very fun MP sessions with time alterations like these, but it could just become quite the opposite and make everyone frustrated. It's nice to see it back among the living, let's hope they finish it soon.

amareen18
amareen18

the game looks sweet with your time control suite.. oh yeah

f789790
f789790

it better not support Physx because nobody owns them. And game performance may be dragged down on purpose to give a reason to buy a card. All games should use their own physics or one included in an engine.

miasomia
miasomia

This game is supposed to have ageia Physx support right? Can any1 confirm this?

NinjaMunkey01
NinjaMunkey01

hopfully this will be pretty good. but I will have to see the review as this could be too easy if the AI is not good. but I think that it qill be pretty cool.

coxy234
coxy234

Max Payne and Half Life 2 crossed together, mindless violence and the ability to watch it in slow motion. Its gonna rock.

Samfisher_1
Samfisher_1

good, so its not some prince of persia gone fps style. But it has to be long, has to be!

mrvic87
mrvic87

It doesn't look bad... although I would have to wait to see what more the developers can do.

Tsuchikage
Tsuchikage

I played the original demo on the OXM disc, and it was terrible. The difficulty, especially, was insane. Hopefully, the newly revamped TimeShift is better than that original demo.

Futil1ty
Futil1ty

One thing I don't understand: If you took a gun that was not connected to the suit in any way, unloaded on an enemy, and then unfroze time, how does he die from being shot? Yeah...think about it; if time is frozen but your suit is not, the bullets shouldn't even be flying out of the gun. The small explosion that causes a bullet to launch out of the round needs time in order to happen; the bullet wouldn't even fire. Your only option would be to beat them senseless while time is frozen. But then the game would suck, so nevermind. I just thought I'd throw that out there because I'm bored-ish.

kniteshade
kniteshade

Sounds cool... I'm looking forward to it...don't suppose a version will come out for the PS2?

shadystxxx
shadystxxx

Sounds good, im pleased the time reverse has gone, as it would be far too easy as you would basicly never die just rewind time and back at it.

pidow
pidow

I got to play this again and again!.

kvan33
kvan33

I used my own time suit to visit the future. Don't buy this game, it sucks.

s0njas0n
s0njas0n

why is this article copied 3x?

the_specialist4
the_specialist4

im really looking foreward to this game it looks like a good one Halo+GRAW= A Great Game

Fable_Lord
Fable_Lord

hopefully this game will play longer then 8h

thatscool
thatscool

Yeah no time reversal sucks... They already complely reworked the game couldnt they have put it in but made it like a one hit kill?

ElitesIgnorance
ElitesIgnorance

Sounds cool and all, but I hope it has a very involving storyline, even though it does have an alternate history or whatever the story is that looks and sounds like Half-Life 2, because this game looks great. Another thing, I hope you don't have to be killing the same people over and over again like Fear, that just gets boring, which is why I hope the story is awesome.

Passa91
Passa91

No time reversing? :( Thats the one thing I liked about the demo!

Viral-venom13
Viral-venom13

Coooooool.....this game not only looks and sounds awesome but its revamping the time controlling genre just as prince of persia sands of time did only now you get to try out the time shifting powers in a shooter setting rather than sword play....sweeeeeeeeeeeet!!!

zidan4000
zidan4000

to the all people who is saying its only graphics , no its not just graphics look at the gameplay you stop time and you slow it and you get through the past and the story looks interesting though, it reminds me of a game called time splitters , but this one will be very cool and the gameplay looks cool.

thepyrethatburn
thepyrethatburn

I actually liked the first demo because of the control that was given over time. Since then, they seem to have gone back and forth with what your level of control will actually be. When the next demo comes out, we'll see if it has become a better looking shooter with all the innovation sucked out or if it rises above what is currently on the market.

trashcanhands
trashcanhands

remember the first time-shift demo? wow, what a pile. the graphics are purdy but the framerate is probably lousy.

Sunrie
Sunrie

I hope this isn't another HL2 or Halo game...I'm really sick of mindless shooters. Graphics are nice and all, but game play is much more important.

wargdude227
wargdude227

So...how would multiplayer work? Or isn't there multiplayer...

dnp25
dnp25

I just hope it aint just graphics , the rain looks good but has gamespot claims there will be demo so everyone can get their test on.I for onew played the first demo that came out a while back wasn't impressed with that mess there is hope for this one.

Nafe
Nafe

The only reason you guys think the game looks awesome is because the graphics are changed, don't even lie to yourself. Your all shallow.

chutup
chutup

This game just gets worse and worse. First they suck all the innovation and puzzles out of it and turn it into another mindless shooter, then they add in half a dozen elements ripped straight out of Half-Life 2.

Ravi_1900
Ravi_1900

This will be areally good title the whole engine was changed in development proocess, the old video near end of 2005 no way near the new video. This game really looks awesome and is definitely innovative.

gameboy360
gameboy360

lol this might be good, but ,no matter wha,t not game of the year!

BeastOfWar316
BeastOfWar316

Because the Demo needs to pass certification before it can be put up on the Marketplace. . .just like Forza 2 did awhile ago.

alex5523
alex5523

Why is not on the marketplace if its already finished the demo?

Darwin_11
Darwin_11

RE: PseudoFinrod You got that right. I wrote this game off because the first demo so failed to impress. Now, it has my attention again.

PseudoFinrod
PseudoFinrod

I don 't remember them ever completely revamping a game after they had already released a demo to the public-which makes me all the more interested.

thekey
thekey

If it looks this good and runs this smooth on the 360, I'll be picking this one up!

dukerav
dukerav

Ohh just how far this game has come indeed, after changing developers/publishers it has progressed nicely since that time. I still recall playing the old Atari version on my OXM demo disc and was very disappointed. I cannot wait to try this whole new game when the new demo is released.

jACkaTacK1107
jACkaTacK1107

LOL Lebbin u think this will win game of the year??? HAHAHA ROFL. i guess THIS game is the one thats gonna beat out halo 3. THIS game is gonna get better reviews than bioshock. THIS game will kick GTA IV's ass, right?....please