Bullet-time and the control of time in general have become a staples of action video games over the past ten years, and a lot of thanks can go to the sci-fi blockbuster, The Matrix. The art of slowing down time in order to act faster, or respond more precisely, has slipped its way into a number of our favourite games, and with Quantum Break releasing this week and embracing this to the fullest, we’re here to pay homage to these time-bending experiences.
Max Payne series
One of the first games to ever incorporate the element of bullet-time, Max Payne set the stage for beautiful gunplay and slow-motion jumps. Max Payne allowed players to leap into the air, while firing off rounds in glorious bullet-time. Even the older, wiser and fatter Max Payne in the third instalment could pull off his past acrobatic antics; so let’s hope we see some more of Mr. Payne sooner rather than later.
Dead to Rights series
While Dead to Rights may initially come off as a Max Payne imitation, it’s so much more than that. Dead to Rights combined a compelling story and a badass character known as Jack Slate, with some interesting gameplay mechanics, such as the ability to utilize Jack’s dog Shadow, and throw fire hydrants and canisters (in combination with a precise shot) in order to create ultimate chaos. The best part is that it could all be done in beautiful slow-motion.
Quantum Break puts the old time-travel hypothesis to the test: can you change the past? Remedy’s new action game makes time not only a tool, but a weapon for the in-over-his-head protagonist Jack Joyce, and the result is something quite unique and spectacular. After a time-travel experiment goes wrong, Jack is gifted with a range of time powers that allow him to operate as normal when time is frozen. Or to use abilities such as Time Rush (quick dash), Time Dodge (quick dodge), Time Blast (shoot fireball-like projectiles), Time Shield (we’re sure you can guess), and the equally self-explanatory Time Stop.
“Time moves only when you move.” That’s the gist of Superhot, a stylish first-person shooter that started out as a small prototype made for a game jam. One Kickstarter and a year and a half later, Superhot is a dynamically paced and strategic action game that has the concept to match its unique looks, and it’s worth getting in your sights.
Singularity is definitely one of the most interesting and entertaining shooters of 2010. It may initially appear familiar to those who’ve played Bioshock and Half-Life, but Singularity creates a unique personality for itself with a phenomenal story, intriguing level design and time-manipulating mechanics.
The game involves a TMD (Time Manipulation Device), which allows players to travel through time and fix the course of history by rewinding, fast-forwarding objects in the environment. It may sound awfully confusing, but the time-travelling antics and action vs. consequence theme of the game are it’s high points with the entire experience delivering a compelling and intriguing narrative.
Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands
While most consider the Prince of Persia series to be more of an action game, the franchise has always had tricky platforming at its core, and the Sands of Time reboot injected some time-manipulation abilities that elevated the game to new heights.
The Forgotten Sands raised the wall-running bar once again, as players found themselves jumping and climbing in a whole new array of ways thanks to new powers, which allowed you to freeze water, swing your way across ledges, and teleport your way across strange static birds and large gaps. While the Forgotten Sands was neglected pretty quickly, it’s still one of the most attention-demanding and challenging platformers out there.
Nothing requires more precision than free-running, and in Mirror’s Edge, it was with the help of a slow-down function that kept the female lead, Faith, from plummeting to her death. With a touch of a button, players could activate ‘reaction time’, which drastically slowed down the incredible pace of the game, in order to make more calculated jumps and time stylish weapon disarms.
The grandfather of first-person shooters returned in 2009, along with series hero, BJ Blazkowics. However, this war veteran brought some new gameplay elements in to the mix. By utilising a paranormal power known as the Veil, players could enter into another dimension. But the best part was that players could slow down time in order to fill some Super Nazi freaks with much needed lead. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?
While many games featured elements of bullet-time and slow-down mechanics, TimeShift based its entire gameplay on the concept. While the game didn’t break any records, it gave players the opportunity to slow-down, freeze and even rewind time. This had to be mastered in order to solve puzzles and kill enemies. Some enemies even move so fast, you have to slow down time just to see them. Time can also be completely stopped, allowing you to waltz over and snatch an enemy’s gun right out of their hands. That alone is worth your time.
Notable Mentions: Braid, Stranglehold, Sniper Elite series, FEAR, Need for Speed series, Total Overdose, Metal Gear series, Midnight Club series, Call of Duty breaching (yawn), True Crime series, Sleeping Dogs, Batman, Assassin’s Creed 2, Fight Night
We’ve just touched on some of the games that have taken full advantage of bullet-time and the time altering facets of gaming. What games have you played that challenged time itself?