Xbox's stand at Stuff Live 2002 in London featured a number of the biggest Xbox titles, including the upcoming Blinx: The Time Sweeper - and left us with mixed impressions of the gameplay.


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The game starts off with a quick story setting scene where there's lots of bolt-upright Blinx clones, on a conveyor belt at the time factory - but Blinx spots a news report on a screen, jumps off the conveyor belt and sees that a princess has been taken hostage by a family of thugs who plan to steal all of the time crystals and abuse their powers by littering a time warped world.

After a bit more plot setting which involves some visual effects that show a victorian style street warped in a whirlpool, Blinx's adventures begin. However it's not long before the first frustrating aspect to Blinx becomes apparent, and that's the red rings that appear around everything new that you discover, from a time monster to a piece of litter that you need to vacuum up, a time crystal or almost anything that does something.


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This alone isn't a major problem, and it means you can find out what things do as you play, but it all feels very stop-start during these stages of the game, and it's made worse by the fact that the large box with messages only has a tiny amount of text in it, so it takes longer to read the full message than if it'd been simply all shown at once.

You'll also get introduced to the time controls, which work similar to a VCR, with functions like got pause, rewind, and fast forward. As you collect crystals you get rewarded with time controls, such as a rewind, which can be used to take Blinx back in time, resulting in both the real time Blinx, and the time warped Blinx both in the world - this comes in handy where you need to do two things at once, like pressing a button or on a sea-saw, and the whole time control system seems to be used to good effect.


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Graphically Blinx is stunning, and has some very detailed and pleasing levels, but the frustrating level of gameplay in the early stages, coupled with the need to think in a way that involves multiple times (with the rewind, fastforward and slow-mo) means that there's quite a lot to work out, and you'll have many attempts at perfecting each level.

The rewinding and fastforwarding probably wasn't as impressive as we'd expected - it looks like there's just four lines of rewind fuzz placed over the view, which has been slightly blurred and sees the action going forward/backwards, and looking a bit like watching a video being fast forwarded on a cheap VHS player, as opposed to a more modern one where the fuzzy bars aren't as apparent.


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It'll be interesting to see if Blinx can manage to be the big Christmas title that Microsoft are hoping it'll be, and from the opinions we heard at Stuff Live it simply wasn't as popular as other titles such as Halo, with comments that the gameplay felt slow and frustrating, although impressing gamers with the novel time control features and the lush graphical world that Blinx gets to explore.

You can find out for yourself when Blinx: The Time Sweeper is released exclusively on Xbox this November, and you can pre-order it from Amazon now.