Time Shift [Beta – Xbox 360, PS3, PC]

Time Shift [Beta – Xbox 360, PS3, PC]

TimeShift was originally going to be published by Atari, but publishing rights switched to Sierra on April 20, 2006. On August 31, 2006, TimeShift was delayed for a second time. The game was finally released on October 30, 2007.

Because the game had been delayed several times and was not mentioned very much in gaming news, the press thought that the project had been abandoned. However, on April 10, 2007, Vivendi Games announced that they were giving TimeShift a complete overhaul and were fixing many bugs. The most striking beta difference is the change in visual style, after claims that the original look “couldn’t compete in the post Unreal Engine 3 world” and that the original steampunk style “didn’t resonate with people.”

One of a number of beta changes is that Michael Swift, the game’s original protagonist, will not be appearing in the game. After the retooling of the game, Saber introduced “the suit” as the time control device, making the protagonist anonymous. Saber said that this change was to let the player imagine that “you are the protagonist”. [info from Wikipedia]

Some more differences were noticed by Vicente:

  • an intro with michael talking to someone
  • a in game scene of a vehicle blowing up by a rocket
  • different graphics
  • different HUD
  • there was an early box, it was blue, with michael with a gun.

As noted by Liqmatrix the Atari PC seven level single player beta is available at this link: https://archive.org/details/TimeShiftAtariDemosDJXavieRO

[Thanks to Gerror for some of these images!]

Beta Images:

Beta Videos:

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11 thoughts on “Time Shift [Beta – Xbox 360, PS3, PC]

  1. Vicente

    yup, the level in the demo is on the final game.

    the differences are

    an intro with michael talking to someone
    a in game scene of a vehicle blowing up by a rocket.
    different graphics
    different HUD
    and the game was meant to be published by atari
    there was an early box, it was blue, with the character michael with a gun.

  2. David

    The May 2006 issue of Official Xbox Magazine came with a demo disc with a playable version of the original game concept (i.e. the version this article is about) included… I have the disc if anyone is interested in it

  3. Ross Sillifant

    I was going to say, regarding point about game not being mentioned much in the press, it was covered in OXM and Gamestm (it’s delay was covered in Gamestm#35:Where they said it was looking fairly impressive…dissapointed to hear it was being moved back until sometime in early 2006 for release.).

  4. John Paul

    Timeshift suffered a very similar fate to Half-Life 2, in that an entire game’s worth of content was scrapped and completely remade.

    The game had been in development since 2003, but the developers, Saber Interactive, couldn’t find a publisher. Atari picked it up around 2005 I think. Originally it was an Xbox title, but the Xbox 360 had just come out and the PS3 was on the way, so Atari moved it to the 360. By the time it was unveiled to the public, around late 2005, the graphics looked pretty dated, and it didn’t exactly push the 360’s hardware to the limit. Nevertheless, it did boast an interesting storyline, bolstered by voice acting from Dennis Quaid and Michael Ironside, playing the protagonist and the villain respectively.

    The storyline basically was as follows: Michael Swift, the protagonist, volunteers for a time-travel experiment, under the direction of scientist Dr. Ivan Krone. Swift travels back to 1911 and tampers with the past in some way. Upon returning to the present day, the entire world has changed and Krone is now an evil dictator ruling over a 1984-but-cartoony-esque United States.

    In early 2006 all was going fairly well and the game was nearing release. A demo was released for the PC, and it received quite a lot of flack. The graphics were lackluster and it was generally poorly optimized, with occasional framerate drops. Atari feared a flop and dropped the game, despite the fact that it was basically finished.

    Later the same year, Sierra picked up the title and gave Saber another year of development time. The catch? They had to remake the entire thing from scratch. Everything, and I really do mean everything, was thrown away or remodeled. Sierra didn’t like the game in its “cartoony” form and wanted not only better graphics, but a more “mature” narrative. The final game was the product of their demands.

    The cutscenes of the original build were all scrapped, and as a result all the voice acting from Quaid and Ironside was thrown out. The Michael Swift character was dropped because Sierra wanted a nameless, faceless protagonist, sort of like Halo’s Master Chief. All of the supporting cast was thrown out too, but the characters in the final version basically fill the same roles. The storyline itself was completely rewritten; in the final version, Aiden Krone (same character as Ivan Krone) travels back in time to 1939 and installs himself as the Fuhrer of an unspecified region (probably the US). The protagonist travels back in time to stop him. That’s it. None of the characterization of the original script, no cutscenes except during the intro and ending.

    The gameplay largely remained the same but the graphics were very Gears of War-esque in the final version. This actually backfired somewhat. Although the graphics were undeniably an improvement over the original, the darker tone and moody lighting actually attracted criticisms that the game was too generic. Some publications, despite slagging off the poor graphics of the original build, later claimed that the art style of the original was more interesting.

    The final version was released in late 2007 and didn’t particularly fly off the shelves. Sierra had hoped to make it into a franchise but this never happened.

  5. Ross Sillifant

    Just dug up the Christmas 2005 Official Xbox Magazine Newsletter:

    Interview with Timeshift Producer…

    Claim is made that 360 version was leading version, with Xbox version to follow soon after.Producer said Xbox version was visually different, but still extremely impressive for an Xbox game.

    Some elements had to be pulled as it had to fit within the Xbox memory, because you could rewind time for 13 seconds, game had to remember everything and that really effected performance on Xbox.

    If you want the newsletter, just shout out.

  6. LiqMat

    As John Paul stated above, the original Atari concept of this game looked completely different from the final Sierra commercial release. The Atari concept Timeshift PC demo can still be found for download, but you will need to use a graphics utility such as dgVoodoo to make it run properly on modern systems. Even more interesting is that there is a rare Atari Timeshift single player beta version of the game that has been archived over at archive.org. This is a seven level beta/prototype of sorts of the original Atari concept before it was redone for Sierra. An incredible find for historical preservation. It seems to run just fine in Windows 10 as long as you set it to “Windows 95” or “Windows 98 / Windows ME” compatibility mode and check both “Run this program as an administrator” and “Disable fullscreen optimizations”.


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