What first-person shooters have in common these days is that they are action games in which you make your way through the story shooting down your enemies, all performed from a first-person perspective. Recent shooters have incorporated all kinds of new and different stuff, like team-based play, vehicles, tactical squads, and plenty of other features that have moved away from the traditional, one-guy-with-a-gun-against-the-whole-world model. That's not to say that there isn't room for this original kind of shooter anymore. In fact, an example of the traditional shooter can be found in the newly announced TimeShift, from developer Saber Interactive and publisher Atari, a futuristic sci-fi shooter that outfits you with an arsenal of powerful weapons plus a specially prepared suit that makes you immune to any kind of changes in the flow of time. Oh, and it will also give you the ability to change the flow of time.
The new game takes place in a hostile world in which you must battle a mysterious enemy that is in charge of an army of soldiers. You may have heard that one before, but you probably haven't heard about the part where you can rewind, pause, or slow the flow of time. As we saw in a demonstration of the game, these abilities are good for, if nothing else, a little grandstanding. You'll be engaged in plenty of intense firefights and can put an exclamation point at the end of them by gunning down your last enemy, turning back time to restore him, then gunning him down again (if you're into that sort of thing).
Of course, there will be more to the game and your character's exceptional abilities than just a few vanity frags. TimeShift will feature more than 10 different weapons with alternate firing modes. To be clear, your time-affecting abilities won't be able to fully affect weapons and weapon fire. For example, if you take a severe hit from a stray bullet and turn back time, you'll end up a few seconds in the past with the same wounds. What your time-affecting abilities will let you do is affect your enemies and your environments. You can slow down time to dash past your enemies, similar to the bullet-time effect in Max Payne, and you can pause to run right past them before they can draw a bead on you.
These tactics seem equally useful in close-in battles with lots of cover--including a level we saw inside of a military complex with enemy soldiers firing from behind cover--as well as in long-distance battles, such as a sniper battle outside the complex with enemies carrying laser-scoped rifles while stationed on the roof. You can even use your time-slowing power as a means to distract your enemies. In one example sequence, we watched a series of antipersonnel mines get set off around the perimeter of guard towers. Naturally, the mines caught the attention of enemy snipers, who immediately began searching for a target. However, it was actually possible to slow time and dash forward into the perimeter of the courtyard while enemies were still blindly pointing their laser sights around the blast radius.
Time manipulation will also play a key role in solving the game's various puzzles, which the development team is carefully tweaking to make sure players can solve them without getting frustrated. These puzzles will also have multiple solutions. An example of this is a bridge being blown up to prevent your progress as you're entering a huge control room built over a cavern. You might try the very difficult task of slowing or pausing time so you can get to the bridge controls and take out the guards with the bomb, or instead you might try slowing time to try to make the jump across before the bridge is blown up. If you don't get there in time to prevent the explosion, you might also try to pause time just as the bridge blows up, then make your way over the chasm by hopscotching over the floating debris that is suspended in midair. Currently, the team has plans to limit your use of time powers with a meter that will drain with use (so that you won't play the entire game in slow motion). The idea is to make sure players always have enough juice to turn back the clock when needed, plus a little extra to experiment.
There aren't many details on the multiplayer modes, except that there is multiplayer planned for the game. From what we've seen, TimeShift will be a good-looking, fast-paced shooter with time enough to spare. The game is scheduled for release later this year.