Good pacing and an interesting story is enough to keep shooter fans happy despite some presentation issues.
Probably the best power at your disposal is the time sphere, called the Deadlock. You can create a sphere with energy which can be launched like a projectile; it expands and slows down all items within. This includes bullets passing through and creatures that leap into the time sphere, making it the perfect hiding place. You can freely move in the sphere and use it to pump an excessive number of bullets into enemies as they are frozen in time. Once the sphere drops those who suffered lead poisoning will fall to the floor. This sphere is useful in many situations and provides a simple sense of satisfaction.
After the slow, carefully paced start the game will open up and become a more constant experience of fire fights and puzzles. The variety is good and you won’t be spending much time in one location or doing one thing for too long. Staggered along the way are very simple puzzles involving a box and the acquired aging/renewing powers. The specific boxes used for the puzzles are never seen outside of the puzzle locations and most of the time you age the box to make it smaller then renew it to climb on an object or open a door. There are no more than a few puzzles that do not fit into this category. The game doesn’t rely on puzzles heavily as they just serve to reduce the pacing before you step into another large fire fight.
The shooting in the game is relatively good too or at least some of the weapons are quite satisfying when upgraded. All weapons can be upgraded, along with your TMD powers and even passive characteristics like player health. Stations placed throughout allow you to increase damage, clip size or energy with research acquired from pickups in a similar way to Dead Space. A favourite weapon was the Autocannon which has a satisfying spin-up sound and cuts through soldiers with ease. You also get a weapon that allows you to steer bullets in slow motion watching them explode poor Russian soldiers from the past. You can only carry two weapons at once, and due to limited ammo this makes you swap them out and use the TMD a little more.
Along the way there are a few sniper sequences designed carefully with staggered spawning from enemy soldiers as you fire from a high vantage point. The sniper sections allow you to perform an unbelievably high number of headshots against enemies who spawn in sequence. The sniper rifle has a bonus mode where, left shift doesn’t steady your sights, it slows time. This small improvement makes taking down poor Russian soldiers incredibly trivial and the sniping sections become low intensity in comparison to much of the game.
Although the setting would allow for numerous scares the game is rarely scary. The opening segments set a good mood and promise great things but it’s not long before the game relies instead on basic shooting to progress. I can only recall one section where a carefully placed body and a music interlude made me jump. Even stealth sections that expect you to carefully move passed blind vomiting Reverts fails to capture the imminent danger. After a failed attempt I instead opted to run passed them all and shoot them all down as they came up behind me.
The story isn’t exactly full to the brim with quality dialogue but it certainly isn’t terrible. Coming across a hanging body in the sewers and listening to the audio tape of the victim it represents is a nice touch. The time travelling aspect by itself also will leave you pondering about the story a bit longer than the majority of games once the game is finished. You’ll come across an empty school where children were segregated and forced to drink contaminated milk. There is even a book, presented by an attractive female agent (naturally) for a secret organisation, which has a prophecy yet to be fulfilled that will shape the rest of the story. Once the campaign is over though you can just jump into some multiplayer if you haven’t had enough.
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