Though it raised some eyebrows when it was announced, I don’t think that many of you remember what TimeShift is all about. Saber Interactive’s project was delayed a number of times by Atari, finally being “adopted” by Sierra; which decided that in order to compete with the big-guns of 2007, the game’s engine needed to be changed. Not quite an ideal development for a game that wants to be a success.
The story is not one of the most original of its type, but pretty decent nonetheless: a group of physicists, scientists and whatnot manage to create a suit with a very interesting ability – time manipulation. But, as it always happens, an ambitious member of the team, by the name of Dr. Aiden Krone, puts on the suit and disappears in an alternate past. Your duty as an anonymous project colleague (during the game it’s never revealed who you are representing) is to follow him into that past and try to undo what he changed, because the past you end up in is somber and apocalyptic.
That’s because Dr. Krone created a world which he rules, a dystopian society in which he is (or at least wants to be) “Almighty”. This police-based society is placed around the year 1939, probably a non-intended coincidence, as this is the same year the Second World War started (in the “correct” history). I said earlier that he tries to dominate the society, because there are rebels that oppose him. You will need to help them and hope that in the end you’ll be able to catch Dr. Krone.
When it comes to gameplay though, I can say that the games fails to impress, because with the exception of the few tricks that you can do with the suit, TimeShift does not offer anything out of the ordinary; maybe just some puzzles that try to add some variety, but in 90% of the game you will only get bloody battles against the soldiers who protect the alternate past you just stepped in.
Interestingly enough, the fights are well made, with a distinct feeling, reminding me of Half-Life 2 (not only the battles, but the general atmosphere of a subdued society), but after a while, even those will feel repetitive. Also, even if in the beginning it will seem that the apocalyptic city is just the opening part and you will go to other alternative dimensions, you can banish that thought, because it’s not going to happen.
The opponents’ AI is pretty good, often simulating their deaths so they can shoot you in the back or throw a grenade for flavor. The enemy soldiers will hide behind vehicles or in trenches and they are quite aggressive, which directly translates into repeated quickloads if you’re not careful. This may get pretty frustrating sometimes because the load time, which are quite long (I tested the game on a Core 2 Duo, 8800GTS and 2GB ram).
Getting back to the AI and opponents, they will put you in difficult situations not necessary because of their intelligence but their aggressiveness, their resistance to your weapons and the large numbers with which they will attack you.