There's no shortage of shooters available on XBLA, and at first glance Zeit2 looks to be just another shooter with rather plain graphics to boot. But as all gamers know, looks can very often be quite deceiving when it comes to videogames. Dismiss Zeit2 too quickly and you'll miss out on a rather unique and totally enjoyable little shooter.
Those of you who are fellow members of the elite fraternity of those who shunned high school Spanish and French in favor of German will recognize that the game's title means "time", and time is central to all that makes the game unique. I'll get to the reason that's the case shortly, but first you need to know a little bit more about the game.
Zeit2 is a side-scrolling shooter that puts you in control of a spaceship that must fend off waves of attackers that enter from the other side of the screen. They shoot, you shoot … pretty standard stuff so far, but there's a big difference here. Some of the enemy ships don't shoot, but rather drain the energy from your ship as they pass by. Even if you don't take a hit, you can still lose your ship as passing ships you've failed to destroy leach the life right out of it. And the game doesn't really cut you any slack, taking a perverse joy in sending in fast-moving vampire ships on opposite sides of the screen so that you don't have any chance of taking them both out. That's where the time mechanic comes in.
You're probably thinking, "so the game lets you rewind time, I've seen that before." Well, that's not quite what it does, so keep reading. As you destroy enemy ships, you collect the energy that you need to manipulate time. When you're faced with one of those situations in which there's no way that you can take out all of the ships passing by, you can put that energy to good use. When you utilize the time feature, what you are actually doing is recording your actions until you turn off the time power. At that point time rewinds to the point at which you started using your time power and all of your actions are replayed by a time ghost version of your ship. While those actions are playing out and your ghost ship is taking out all of the enemies that you did the first time around, you still have control of your ship in the present time – in essence, you now have two ships on your side. Since you only have a limited amount of energy to use to manipulate time and your playback will mimic your actions for better or worse, you have to be smart about when and how you use this power. And for those of you who can really think on your feet and plan ahead even when on the spot, there's an added bonus. You can fire through your ghost ship to power-up your weapon significantly, essentially teaming up with yourself for a combo attack. The enemy has a few tricks of its own, such as ships that can only be hit by your ghost ship during a time replay, so you'll find yourself having to use your time power at moments when you'd rather be saving it. Throw in some intense boss battles that will challenge your time manipulation skills and you've got a great little shooter that challenges your mental quickness as much as it does your dexterity.
As an added bonus, the game comes absolutely packed with modes. While they're all locked at the outset, all that you need to do to unlock the next mode is to play one game in the most recently unlocked mode. The extra modes are Time Limit, Wave, Survival, Tactics, Score Attack, and Challenge, and each one changes the rules enough to make them play differently from the main game and from each other. Each mode also has its own online leaderboards so you can compare you scores against those of friends and strangers.
Final Rating: 88%. Zeit2 is a shooter that's well worth your time.