If you need more out of a game's story than "shoot guys until the credits roll because an angry soldier and a computer voice say so," you're in trouble here. If you piece together the fragmented cutscenes, scour the manual, and read the back of the box, you'll learn that a certain Dr. Krone has stolen a special suit that lets its user travel through time. This has created an alternate reality, which is a bad thing--you'll have to trust the game on that, because it's tough to figure out just what has happened that's so bad, other than a big robot spider that shoots lasers terrorizing the city. (OK, maybe that is bad.) It's up to you to take the other, experimental beta suit (ohhhh, dangerous!), travel through time, and stop Dr. Krone from doing something sinister--which he has already done, so you want to undo whatever it is he's done...or something.
Even though the story is an incoherent mess, it's still possible to enjoy TimeShift. Why? Because you can time-shift. Your suit has the ability to pause, slow down, or even reverse time--kind of like a TiVo you can wear. This lets you pause the action, run up to a guy, and shoot him to bits. Or if you're feeling like humiliating him before you kill him, you can steal his weapon, restart time, and watch as he wonders where the heck it went, and then make him dead with a barrage of bullets. It's even possible to regenerate health by seeking cover and pausing time. You can't rewind time and prevent your own death, but if you're quick you can reverse it and unstick a grenade from yourself. You only have a limited amount of time you can manipulate before the suit's energy runs out, but it regenerates quickly. The game promises all sorts of other "exciting" uses for altering the flow of time, but it never really capitalizes on the potential of the mechanic. Rather than challenging you with complex puzzles that require you to think outside the box or use the game's quality physics engine, you're mostly limited to slowing down time so you can press two buttons in quick succession or pausing time so that you can get through a door before it closes. Thank goodness for technology.
Other than the time-shifting stuff, the rest of TimeShift plays like a linear, run-of-the mill first-person shooter--and a dated one at that. Most of the level objectives are routine tasks like finding a button that opens a door or, sometimes, locating a lever that opens a door. Heck, sometimes you have to do both! There are a few scenarios where you ride around on an ATV and some others where you man a turret on an airship, but most of the time you'll be moving from checkpoint to checkpoint on foot, taking out wave after wave of unintelligent foes. It's good, then, that the gunplay is entertaining. This is mostly due to the game's powerful weapons that are so much fun to shoot. It might not be exactly challenging, but it's fun to pause time and take the crossbow that shoots an arrow that sticks in the target and then blows up, and then unpause time and watch your foe explode into a charred, bloody mess. There are other cool weapons too, like the automatic gun that looks like it shoots bullets, but these bullets cause the target to burst into flames when they hit, and then the dude screams like a little girl as he fries. Even the basic machine gun is powerful and useful all the way through the game. There's always plenty of ammo to be found, so you never have to be conservative with your bullets.