TimeShift Hands-On Preview

We spend quality time with Sierra's future shooter.

By now, you know TimeShift is a time- and mind-bending first-person shooter set in an alternate reality ruled by a madman. You probably also know it was seven bugs from completion in 2006 (read: finished), but that Sierra gave developer Saber Interactive an extra year to polish its product to perfection. While we only spent a couple hours with TimeShift, the extra effort seems to have paid in spades.

The single-player game ran smoothly on the 360, though the developers warned us they weren't finished optimizing the frame rates for the PC version. As you hopefully read in Jason Ocampo's excellent hands-on preview, the story follows the adventures of a scientist who was working on time suits when his partner stole one, blew everything up, and escaped into a different dimension. The hero dons a suit and follows the madman, as explosions destroy everything he loved and lived for.

You, the good scientist, land in a dystopian alterna-Earth ruled by none other than your wicked ex-associate. As giant, mechanical war machines stalk the cityscape raining lasers and death on the terrified populace, secret police battle a rebellion in the streets. You quickly join the uprising, using the fantastic properties of your suit to loosen tyranny's grip. Your initial arms include a machine gun with grenade launcher attachment and a sweet crossbow that shoots exploding bolts, but the greatest weapon in your arsenal is time itself.

The police in TimeShift are also the criminals.

With the push of a button, your artificially intelligent suit will contextually pick whichever time ability would suit you best in the given circumstances--slow, stop, or reverse. However, you can also override the suit's preference and activate a specific power with a two-button press. Of course, you'll be able to see all of this yourself when the Xbox 360 demo hits.

What you probably won't be able to see is the game's interesting take on multiplayer action. The developer dabbled with letting players slow down and stop time, but decided that freezing or slowing entire games would kill the action. Instead, it's introducing time grenades, which will affect the flow of time in a typical grenade blast radius for about four or five seconds. Imagine you're in a firefight with a guy hiding behind a box. You chuck a "stop" grenade next to him and it goes off, freezing him in a timeless bubble. You run up, fire three quick shotgun blasts in his direction, and run on.

As soon as the bullets hit the bubble, they'll freeze in time, but when the bubble bursts, they'll immediately tear your target to little red pieces. Now, time grenades aren't things you pick up around the environment. Rather, they're manufactured from your suit depending on the amount of time energy you've accumulated. With just a little energy, you can chuck a "slow" grenade; with a moderate amount you can fling a "stop" grenade; with a lot, you can temporarily shield yourself from all time effects.

Ashes to ashes, dust to... Wow, that's a lot of dust.

Like all grenades, the ones in TimeShift take a little getting used to. Not only do you have to figure out how far they'll fly and what kind of radius to expect, you also have to learn to quickly toggle beneath effects. Once you do, however, you'll be able to even the playing field against even the most heavily armed foes.

Which is important, because in the deathmatches we played, everyone spawned with nothing but a pistol and enough energy for a slow grenade. While the latter can be devastating, the pistol is so weak you're better off trying to whip people with it. As you might imagine, then, the first moments of each spawn were spent frantically hiding from people with real guns, while looking for one of our own.

The next game we played was capture the flag in a huge, indoor hangar. This showed off the nifty utility of time grenades when chasing down a carrier. We also picked up a few guns we hadn't seen before, including what can only be described as a semiautomatic plasma blaster, and a flamethrower. The blaster packed a wallop, while flames from the thrower continued to do damage after we'd stopped firing.

Online players clash in search of free time.

The third match type we played was the best. In it, each side has temporal generators that count down to zero. To win, your side's generator has to count down to zero first. To accomplish this, you have to make your way to the other team's generator and hit it with time grenades. To complicate matters, you have to collect time energy from power-ups located in the middle of the map, leading to some serious firefights. To further complicate matters, the developer turned on low-gravity and one-hit kills. That's right, TimeShift multiplay will be imminently customizable, allowing you and your friends to have exactly the kind of experience you want.

With so many options matched with such interesting and unusual powers, we suspect TimeShift will be fun, diverse, and worth more than a little time, online or off. We'll only know for sure, though, when this game hits store shelves October 30.

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44 comments
vahid_xbox_360
vahid_xbox_360

well i think this game will be an straightforward game .there wont be a tough challenge.

ratchetcooper1
ratchetcooper1

well,im not a big fan of first person shooters but this one looks phenomenal.

pigpen4483
pigpen4483

the exploding crossbow thingy is reminiscent (sp?) of the torque bow from gears of war ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh I want this game!

pigpen4483
pigpen4483

the exploding crossbow thingy is reminiscent (sp?) of the torque bow from gears of war ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh I want this game!

AJ-2K7
AJ-2K7

i sooooooooooooo want this but the demo hasn't come out in Europe yet! does anybody know wen it will???

tclvis
tclvis

Exploding crossbow arm...I think I just fell in love. Good thing I already have my preorder. Off to play the demo!

xtreme_chief
xtreme_chief

Just played the demo at Supernova in the dome at sydney andwhat can I say? This game looks to be very nice or should I say awesome!

gacmyver
gacmyver

dude, i was really sceptical to this as it doesnt look so good and the idea seemed well worned out, but after reading this preview, i think the game is worth a try! demo i mean!

KingBahamut
KingBahamut

Its funny in my spare time I dream up game ideas and one was how to get time powers in a multiplayer match I eventually came up with the idea of a time affecting blast that emminates from the character creating a time bubble quite useful seeing as the player could dodge shots with a slow bubble and completly shield himself with a stop bubble and bassicaly I find it very much like the time grenades

londonrider
londonrider

I just finished the demo- they did the awesome hell action! And it would be no sin to fall in love with the visual effects. Overall, the demo looks smashing!

vass86
vass86

the plot of this game is quite good. i'm not sure which games i'm going to get this month or next, because there are so many good titles coming out but i'm definately considering this one

darkchaostitan
darkchaostitan

Of all the previews, I expect most from this game(or want most of this game at least) I remember timesplitters, but it's just too graphically challenged for me to play right now. I hope this didn't end up like haze did though.

inthezone
inthezone

I remember playing the demo for this last year.... it was alright, but nothing special. I'm hoping that this version will be better, cause this game has sure "shifted" it's release date a hell of a lot. I thought it was in developer's hell for a little while. By the way, does anyone know what happened to that PS3 game called "Eyedentify"? Just wonderin'...

xtreme_chief
xtreme_chief

Its going to go straight to my XBOX360 when it comes out.

BlackBaldwin
BlackBaldwin

Finally was able to down the demo yesterday and got to play around with it some. Demo was pretty fun but in all respects didn't seem like anything ground breaking or anything that makes me want to go out and buy it right off the shelf as soon as it comes out...Hopefully they made the story streamlined into the game so maybe I might be wrong about it but I don't think I am through another average par shooter nothing to take note about I have a feeling...

gnrlcryingwolf
gnrlcryingwolf

Just played the demo. Very cool indeed, although I'll be getting it for PC and not for my 360. It wasn't high on my list at first, for the same reasons ergo2497 states, but it sure is shaping up to be a must-have. Let's hope it meets my/our expectations!

spencdiamonds
spencdiamonds

looks atually decent and the demo was quite fun

kerensky287
kerensky287

To me, the demo looks like they tried to take lots of elements from lots of hit games; Halo, Half-Life, and so on. But they succeeded and threw time control into the mix. If only the demo were longer! Oct. 30 for the win.

ergo2497
ergo2497

I hope Timeshift succeeds simply because of the choice its developers made. Their original demo in 2006 was terrible: poorly optimized, graphically last-gen, not really fun to play. Sounds like a year was all it took to take that coal and make diamonds from it. Hopefully this sets a standard for other developers: if it takes time to really come through on the execution, then wait and make a great game instead of rushing crap to stores.

jlp817
jlp817

this demo is a blast....i love disarming enemies and shooting them up with their own weapons...lol

reckeweg
reckeweg

The demo for this game rocks. The time grenades sound very interesting. So far this game looks extremely worthy.

Wolfie600
Wolfie600

played the demo and its awesome..

FirstAlchemist1
FirstAlchemist1

we have the power duckhead we have the technology we can rebuild it. lol

Duckhead111
Duckhead111

yessssssssssss i have been waiting for this game to come to ps3 cuz my 360 died and i wonted this game

slayersdeath200
slayersdeath200

looking good just hope they dont delay it again :P been waiting for this game for ages

blackhammer77
blackhammer77

When I first played the demo, it was just ok, but now... :D:D:D SOUNDS GREAT! Also seems better than F.E.A.R multi

INoX-AiC
INoX-AiC

This game will be one of the best of it's time. Will be interesting to see if it competes with the upcomming "Crysis"

galerian86
galerian86

the hero looks like he just finished acting for crysis

ocdog45
ocdog45

this is a game i really want to play.

Clay_Whitey
Clay_Whitey

Can't wait for the demo! anyone know when its out?

football_legend
football_legend

Oh boy...just 4 days after HALO? U gotta be kiddin me? Hope it can stand firm.

gatsbythepig
gatsbythepig

I have been waiting for this one for years.

LS07
LS07

It looks really good, especially the multiplayer

1valiantknight
1valiantknight

The end of Oct is going to be crazy. I'll be picking this up along with Hellgate: London. I think it will be a good day.

James5000
James5000

It looks great, but I just hope that the time effects are not clunky.

Sir_Bozack
Sir_Bozack

looks awsome! like what shadowrun could've been with more effort.

amareen18
amareen18

man..... the game looks awesome

Pete5506
Pete5506

Looks good, also sounds vary good, I may have to pick this game up

AnFangs_Endes
AnFangs_Endes

Ah, some more real 4D! however I feel that far too many games may be using it now.. *4D-The fourth dimension is time, not space