TimeShift

Clocking in.

Relax! Do not adjust your internets! This is indeed a first-person shooter about manipulating the flow of time. But this one can do more than just slow it down! It can pause it and rewind it too! It might not sound like much, but this sort of evolutionary step gave us F.E.A.R., which took an old idea and made it all atmospheric and exciting again. Can TimeShift do the same?

It's certainly had long enough. Thrown back into development for an additional year, it now sees you, a scientist with a fancy time suit, jumping into an alternative timeline in search of another scientist with a fancy time suit, who has rebuilt the world in his image. Quickly dragooned into the local resistance, you set off in search of him, utilising your fancy suit's fancy abilities to press your new friends' case in violent fashion, solving the odd puzzle along the way.

Not that they need much solving, which is a shame. With your suit's built-in AI advising you of environmental obstacles (fire! electricity! etc!), and pre-selecting the appropriate time-shifting ability for a simple left-bumper tap, you won't have much trouble working out what to do. If there's a door that closes quickly in the vicinity of a switch that opens it, you can probably figure out the rest. If not, I doubt your computer made it out of the box and you're not even reading this. It gets a bit more complicated, but never enough to hold you up for longer than a few seconds.

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Saber's engine is pretty impressive, and handles the action well.

Combat's more interesting. Slowing people down lets you smash them to bits with shotguns, assault rifles and sticky grenades, and you'll need to be on your toes in case one of those sails your way, because a quick rewind will detach it and save a chunk of your health bar. Although the game selects the most appropriate time tweak when you press LB, holding it and pressing a face button lets you pick and choose, so you'll need to get good at doing this on the fly. When you do, you'll be able to take advantage of the self-charging time-bar to pause enemies in a bottleneck and hurl a grenade into their midst.

Enemy AI isn't as advanced as F.E.A.R's though, and your radar shows you where everyone is anyway. And while the initial guns run out of ammo quite quickly, forcing you to sit back, pause time and dash in and out again, things get a lot easier when you can add things like the sniper rifle and particularly the crossbow to your three-weapon arsenal. The latter works like Gears of War's - fire a bolt, wait a second and watch your target explode - although the gibs aren't as delightfully silly as they are in Epic's alternative.

Which leaves, er, not a lot, actually. Unless you want to dwell on the bad. There's nothing wrong with simple puzzles, for instance, but they should always be satisfying. There aren't many in TimeShift that are. Slowing time to ride a spinning zeppelin blade is quite neat, but the abundance of see-saws (hop on, pause/slow, run, jump) and simple switch puzzles relegates them to a footnote. The lack of invention would be jarring anyway, but a month after Portal it just leaves you cold.

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