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Old 10-15-2007, 04:57 AM   #1
Mike Doolittle
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Thumbs up Timeshift demo

Like most of them this demo was disappointingly brief, but unlike CoD4 where I was hoping there was more to it than what I played, Timeshift is pretty damn cool and left me wanting more.

The gameplay is kind of a combination of FEAR and Half-Life 2. There's some kind of civil insurrection going on against a Dr. Breen type character and his evil empire, and there's a fair bit of scripted stuff happening. It's all very linear. You have this suit that allows you to slow, stop or reverse time. So for example you can freeze time, pop a room full of baddies in the head, then watch them all drop at once, or use the same moment of opportunity to steal their weapons from them, then take them out while they panick. Or, use reverse to send a grenade right back to its owner or send a baddie right back into the open after he dove for cover. The suit takes a minute to recharge so you have to use it strategically. Health is typical Halo-style, which in this case actually works since you're in an uber-suit.

I was impressed by how the use of the time alteration was balanced. Playing on the medium difficulty, I got taken out pretty fast without using the time powers. Enemies can take a few hits and you're as vulnerable as they are. The suit also takes just enough time to recharge that it doesn't feel too cheap to be using time alteration constantly, and even the powers are well-balanced – stopping time takes a lot more energy than slowing it. The environments are pretty destructible too, so that concrete wall or stack of bricks you're hiding behind might get worn down or blown up and leave you exposed. Things actually blow up in a satisfying way – at one point I tossed a grenade at a sniper tower, and the explosion caused the whole tower to crumble. The time powers are also integrated into some puzzles in some cool ways. In the demo there's an instance where you jump inside a pipe, then use "stop" to keep the pipe from see-sawing so you can get to a higher ledge.

I was also pretty impressed with the AI. At one point I froze time and stole a guy's weapon. He stood there for a minute like "What the hell? Where's my gun?!" before he scrambled to grab a gun from one of his fallen comrades. At another point, I used the same tactic to get behind a guy, and he looked around and was saying "Where'd he go? I lost him!" Once he spotted me he freaked and ran straight for cover.

There are so many big titles coming out that I think this one might be overlooked a bit, but I think it might be a sleeper hit. Good physics, good AI, good graphics, cool gameplay hook. Definitely worth checking out.
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Old 10-15-2007, 02:03 PM   #2
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Re: Timeshift demo

I've played through this demo many times, trying to do things different ways. It reminds me of Red Faction. Cool idea but there are limits that are inherent due to memory.

Seems to be some glitches as well or something. I couldn't take everyone's gun, just at certain times. And in the basement area after moving out of the first section and moving to the next, a guy comes from behind you out of nowhere. Good thing they talk too much.

The exploding arrows are the best weapon. The enemies' reaction to it is great, its a guaranteed kill, and you can zoom in to take out snipers. Though it needs a larger splash damage area.

Freezing time works well. No complaints. I just wonder how it plays out in the full game.

Graphics is fine, but really, its what you expect now. Its not Gears of War, more like Prey. In today's world of shiney bump-mapping, art direction still has a place. This game doesn't stand out from the crowd in that respect.

Another aspect of the gameplay is it tends to be 'replay until you get it right'. To many times did I die in the one corridor leading to the basement because I had no idea I was supposed to run through. Unlike Prince of Persia you can't rewind once you're dead.

I can wait on this title until it hits the bargain bin unless the full retail proves to be more varied in its approach to gameplay.
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Old 10-15-2007, 10:11 PM   #3
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Re: Timeshift demo

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vince View Post
Seems to be some glitches as well or something. I couldn't take everyone's gun, just at certain times. And in the basement area after moving out of the first section and moving to the next, a guy comes from behind you out of nowhere. Good thing they talk too much.
Sometimes it will say their grip on the weapon is too tight. Otherwise you have to be at the right angle (basically facing them straight on) to take it. Not sure about the guy out of nowhere. There's a dude that took me down a few times right after I killed the guy who executes the rebel, but I saw him coming out of the back room.

Quote:
Graphics is fine, but really, its what you expect now. Its not Gears of War, more like Prey. In today's world of shiney bump-mapping, art direction still has a place. This game doesn't stand out from the crowd in that respect.
I thought it was pretty good though not outstanding from an art direction standpoint. It wasn't on par with STALKER or Bioshock, but I thought it was on par with the urban settings in Half-Life 2. Did you play on PC or XBox? On the PC it looks pretty sweet. The lighting isn't as good as some other games, but it looks really good and has great animation.

Quote:
Another aspect of the gameplay is it tends to be 'replay until you get it right'. To many times did I die in the one corridor leading to the basement because I had no idea I was supposed to run through. Unlike Prince of Persia you can't rewind once you're dead.
I think that's just a matter of getting the hang of the time alteration. And for me, it wasn't so much trial and error as it was figuring out different strategies, which for me was a good thing.
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