TimeShift has been a long time coming, but this time-bending action game from Saber Interactive and new publisher Vivendi Games will finally see store shelves next month on the PC and Xbox 360. As we've reported in our extensive previous coverage, you'll play as Colonel Michael Swift, who's at the controls of a multibillion-dollar time-control suit and who's using that suit to clean up a mess he made by mucking around with the past. It seems Krone, the evil and bald mastermind behind Swift's suit, has designs on more than just acceptance among his scientific peers; he wants to rule the world, and he's used Swift as a pawn to enact his evil scheme.
We've spent some time (ahem) with the game's single-player campaign to see how it's shaped up now that the game is just about done. You'll play through a brief training segment reminiscent of Half-Life's tutorial level, in which a buxom assistant steps you through the functions of your suit as you tackle a number of small obstacles. You won't actually grab a gun and start shooting till you've been to the past and back, though. Not long after heading back to the dystopian future, you'll break out of a brief imprisonment at the hands of Krone's goons and link up with an underground resistance movement that, at least in the early part of the game, will be supplying you with information and objectives as you move from one area to the other, undermining the Krone empire in every way possible.
TimeShift's mission structure is quite linear--you're proceeding from point A to point B to satisfy objectives that develop on the fly as you work with the resistance against Krone. The time powers naturally come in plenty handy when you're thrown up against overwhelming enemy odds--which seems to be happening quite a bit so far. We've encountered a couple of instances where we were on foot and had to get by imposing obstacles, such as some tanks that could mow us down in seconds, so we had to use the slow- or pause-time powers to get by unscathed. We tended to run and gun our way through most firefights without paying much mind to the time powers at first, but we figured out quickly that we had to use our unique talents to get by--the odds are stacked too high against ol' Colonel Swift.
You won't just be using those powers to stroll lazily through one firefight after another, though. You'll also encounter a good number of puzzles that will require your time powers, sort of like the puzzles in Half-Life 2 that made such good use of that game's physics engine. Here, you'll sometimes have to stop time so you can walk on solidified water or right through a jet of harmless flame; slow time so you can make it through a group of fast-moving laser trip wires; or hit a switch to bring an elevator over, then jump on that elevator and reverse time so it carries you back across the gap. The solutions to the puzzles we've seen so far have been fairly obvious, but that's only in the early part of the game. If things get harder later, there's an online hint system that will pop up suggestions (subtle or not, depending on your preference) about which power you should use to tackle a given situation.
As for the all-important achievements in the Xbox 360 version, you points hounds ought to have a good amount of meat to chew on when you try to wring every last point from TimeShift. You'll find an achievement unlocked after every story level is completed, as well as achievements for finishing the entire game on all three difficulty modes. Like Perfect Dark Zero, TimeShift has a bunch of multiplayer-related achievements relating to which game modes you've played and how many kills you've nabbed. Finally, you'll get a number of points for focusing on some time-power-specific activities, from stopping time and stealing a certain number of enemies' weapons to shooting down a particular number of rockets to reversing time and bringing enough slain enemies back to life.
TimeShift seems like a pretty solid single-player shooter with some unique gameplay features (at least, unique to the first-person shooter genre). We'll hopefully bring you more on the game's multiplayer modes in the next few weeks as the late-September release date approaches.