Late Shift is a HD full motion video game written with a lot of potential, but does it live up to it's expectations?
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Disclaimer: This game was provided to me by a PR company for the purposes of a review. This will not affect my review in any way, and is being explained for the purposes of transparency with our audience.

Full motion video (or FMV) games are games which feature recorded video footage to tell the narrative of the game. Late Shift is one of these games. From it’s description it shows promise. The game is written by Michael R. Johnson, the director of the 2009 Sherlock Holmes film which has a review score of just over 70%. It was shot in London in full HD and promises several different endings, each of which is determined by the real time choices you make when playing the game. However paper is one thing; execution is something entirely different. So does the game deliver on expectations?

STORY

Now everyone run through of the game will be slightly different, but it does follow a general gist. Late Shift follows the story of Matt; a student studying at university who works night shifts in a car park. The car park is one that holds high end cars such as Aston Martins’ and BMWs. Matt’s night is turned upside down however when he hears a thud in the car park. This turns out to be a man attempting to steal a high end BMW. In the attempt he falls from the vents of the car park and breaks his arm. Through one process or another you end up at a house with three other people. It is revealed that these people are stealing an item from an auction that is selling valuable goods, and Matt gets roped into being involved in the robbery. From here’s things go downhill. People die. It turns out that the gentleman who ordered the job may not have ordered it. The people who bought the item you stole turn up because, well funny enough they want back the item they bought.

Late Shift
Images taken from Late Shift press kit

That’s the general gist of the story. One thing I have to say is that they are some very good plot twists in the story. Some you don’t see coming, some you do but the story is very well written in my opinion. The pacing of the story is nice, things happen when they feel that they should. Now the game does have multiple endings, and I have discovered 4 of the 7 endings available. I will work in my own time to try and get the other 3, but after playing the game a few times I have to say that Late Shift doesn’t fall into the same problem as many other decision based story games, in your first playthrough at least.

GAMEPLAY

Late Shift plays in a very strange way. It is a mix of movie and video game, which while an interesting mix is a rather strange experience. It’s very much a case of watching a movie with a controller in your hand and then making split second choices. That’s essentially the gameplay element of the game. You watch the narrative and then make decisions based upon what you wish to do or say next then, as with other games like this, events unfold afterwards depending on what option you picked. Even though I was aware I was holding a controller I found myself being completely immersed in the gameplay. It’s very much a case of watching events unfold and then reacting to what just happened. Luckily Late Shift is roughly an hour and a half long, so it ends before it starts to feel tedious. Still if you don’t enjoy just watching events unfold, this game may not be for you.

The first time you play the choices you make do have wait, they do amount to something. Playing through the second time I started to realise that regardless of what happened I had to be a part of the robbery. You can be as disruptive as you want, but you still wind up in the same situation further down the line. I understand that there can only be so many outcomes to a game, but in all 3 of my playthroughs I ended up wandering the same general path to get to a different ending. It may sound small but following the same general path three times just to attempt to see all of the endings the game offers becomes tedious. This is a game that I feel I will come back to so I can see the other endings, but only after a few weeks away from the game.

Late Shift
Images taken from Late Shift press kit

GRAPHICS & AUDIO

Not much can be said about the graphics of the game. Late Shift is shot in full HD and so looks amazing; it’s like watching a high budget movie. The music in Late Shift is great, and always matching whatever is happening at the time. The main issue I had with the audio is that sometimes the background music can become too loud, and almost blocks out the speech making it hard to hear what is being said. While this only happened on the odd occasion, it was something that become irritating. There is no option to lower the music volume on it’s own, only the audio as a whole, which is a shame as this would’ve solved the only issue I had with the audio.

CONCLUSION

To sum it all up, Late Shift is a great game/movie. I’m still not sure which of these it is. Nonetheless the game/movie is a lot of fun, has a great well-paced story and does have some replayability. Late Shift is fairly priced (under £10 in the UK) and is well worth the money.

  • 85%
    Story - 85%
  • 80%
    Gameplay - 80%
  • 90%
    Graphics & Audio - 90%
85%

Summary

Overall Late Shift is a well paced narrative that blurs the line of video game and movie. While replaying can become tedious, and there is the odd audio hiccup, the game itself is entertaining and fun to play. Definitely worth playing if you are a fan of narrative heavy games.

About the author

I've loved video games for as long as I can remember. Recently found a love for reporting video game news and decided to start Games Bulletin, and have been enjoying every step of the journey.