"You know what I'm talking about. In all the cool action movies, and I'm talking about the coolest of the cool, it always seems like time slows down in the middle of the action. You know, you can see the bullets flying through the air, the hero dodging in slow-motion. Oh man, it would be so cool to be able to do that. Bullet-time, that's what they call it. Bullet-time, yeah heh, would be so cool."
Bullet Time (sometimes referred to as time-slice photography) is a visual effect introduced in recent films and computer games whereby the passage of time is slowed down so that an observer can see individual bullets flying throughout the scene at a conceivable rate, or any fast-moving object, sometimes with streaks and trails made visible. It is a convenient way to depict Super Reflexes, by allowing the audience to experience the same powers of enhanced perception that the protagonist is using.
It is often used to stop action at a dramatic point, and some variations involve rotating the camera view around the frozen scene in an Orbital Shot so that the audience can see a panoramic or surround view around objects or events.
In film, television and advertising, the effect is achieved by a set of still cameras surrounding the subject which are activated simultaneously. The pictures in the still cameras are then displayed consecutively and spliced into movie frames, creating the effect of a single camera moving around a scene either frozen in time or moving incredibly slowly.
The first example of Bullet Time can be found in the obscure 1981 action film Kill and Kill Again. It was also later used in a commercial by The Gap and popularized by the film The Matrix to the point where most contemporary uses of it are parodies of, homages to, or ripoffs of The Matrix. Bullet Time is also used in computer games such as Max Payne and Enter the Matrix where it allows the player to slow the game world down, but still allows the ability to look and aim at normal speed.
Antecedents to Bullet Time occurred before the invention of cinema itself. Eadweard Muybridge used still cameras placed along a racetrack to take pictures of a galloping horse. Each camera was actuated by a taut string stretched across the track; as the horse galloped past, the camera shutters snapped, taking one frame at a time (the original intent was to settle a bet the governor of California had made, as to whether or not all four of the animal's legs would leave the ground). Muybridge later assembled the pictures into a rudimentary animation, by placing them on a glass disk which he spun in front of a light source. His zoopraxiscope was the direct inspiration for Thomas Edison's moving pictures. In effect, Muybridge had achieved the aesthetic opposite to The Matrix's Bullet Time sequences; it may be a historical accident that no 19th century bullet-time animations were made.
An identical phrase, "Bullet Time", is a registered trademark of none other than Warner Bros., the distributor of The Matrix. It was formerly a trademark of 3D Realms, producer of the Max Payne games. It should be noted that the "Bullet Time" trademark refers specifically to the technique of using multiple cameras and a green screen to "freeze" the action and rotate around it, rather than just slowing conventional action down.
Note that while Bullet Time is often used to depict Super Reflexes, the two are not the same — the former is a visual depiction for the latter, not a synonym. Depiction of Bullet Time contained in imitative works, should only be considered authentic if the effect is shown as being an element of the given environment's physics (i.e., the environment does actually slow down, at least for the individual experiencing it, with other distortions of physics, such as a limited absence/control of gravity as a consequence) rather than being purely visual/aesthetic in nature. As a result, this should not be considered the same thing as conventional slow motion.
See also Caffeine Bullet Time, Time Stands Still, Adrenaline Time, Overcrank, Hit Stop. Very High Velocity Rounds may ensue if your bullets aren't slowed but your enemies' are.
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FLCL does this three times, once in episode 1 before Haruko gives Naota "CPR", again in episode 3, as Naota crashes into Ninamori in a near-kiss turned head-butt, and finally . They also do it a few times in the episode "Brittle Bullet".
The anime School Rumble did a spoof of this, right down to the Matrix-style dodge. It should be noted that said dodge ended with the performer flat on his back after time returned to normal. The same thing happened to Neo.
Arbitrarily appears in brief bursts during a single fight scene in Darker Than Black, with the characters dodging each other's knives / blood. And bullets in Ryuusei no Gemini (it doesn't end wellfor Goran since he runs at the speed of a bullet in the middle of the rain, effectively having the rain become a water jet cutter on his entire body)
In Full Metal Panic!: The Second Raid, Sōsuke does this with tank shells until he manages to disintegrate them mid-air.
It is suggested several times in Dragon Ball that we are seeing the battles as they appear to the main characters, who are all fast enough to dodge bullets and thus have incredibly heightened reflexes, meaning they're pretty much in Bullet Time constantly. This would explain some of the pacing inconsistencies (like the famous "ten episodes long five minutes"), but the series never says for sure whether this is the case.
Films — Animation
Over the Hedge makes possibly the best use of a Bullet Time sequence since The Matrix, without being at all a parody of the latter. It occurs when Hammy gets a hold of an energy drink.
Bullet-time nerve strikes. Tricky to pull off, but useful against rampaging snow leopards.
There is also bullet-time sitting, on Tai Lung's face. Rule of Funny, naturally.
In the scene where Po and Shifu are fighting over the dumpling, this is used to show how freakishly fast Shifu is. As Po is jumping up to catch the dumpling with his mouth, he's moving in bullet time. Shifu, however, is not.
Comes up several more times in the second film, most notably when the entire heroic cast performs a slow-motion leap, with Po saying "I love you guys", also in slow-mo.
Shrek. Hilarious parody of The Matrix, as Princess Fiona "goes Trinity" on Robin Hood and His Merry Men, complete with the rotating camera angle — and a mid-air pause while she fixes her hair.
Parodied in the second Madagascar as well, when Alex does his zoo shtick for the stranded New Yorkers, he performs a slow-motion leap, only for one of the people, who are all still moving normally ask, "how does he DO that?"
Tangled. Rapunzel swings away from the ledge at the dam, and Maximus lunges to catch her hair with his teeth. The score makes it clear that this is a Shout-Out.
Stalingrad uses this on a few occasions, such as when two characters duck out of the way of an incoming German artillery shell or when the Russians bounce an artillery shell off a tank and into German HQ.
A variant was used in the fight between Tung and Chat in The Heroic Trio.
In Star Trek: Insurrection, the Ba'ku have figured out how to induce a temporary bullet time whenever they want. Picard figures out how to do it just in time to save his movie love interest.
Watchmen abuses the hell out of it, with actual bullets, a flamethrower, and countless other things used during the fights in the film.
The Matrix is the Trope Codifier, though it uses it sparingly, partly because the team were inventing the necessary techniques as they went along. The Wachowskis, in the making-of features, snark that they only had to invent it because Director of Photography Bill Pope "Wouldn't let us strap him to a rocket."
The first Spider-Man film represents Peter's first use of Spider-sense with Bullet Time.
This is an explicitly-stated ability of Wesley in Wanted.
The Final Countdown gives this treatment to the explosion of a Japanese Zero when it's struck by a Sidewinder missile. Bonus points for the film being made in 1980, decades before bullet time became common practice.
Inverted in the climax of The Ice Pirates: The title pirates are going through a time-warp, where time is speeding up, and the film actually speeds up for seconds at a time. The result is weirdly cool.
V for Vendetta, in the final fight between V and Creedy's men. Time was slowed during V's knife attack which wiped out Creedy's men in the seconds it took for them to reload. Complete with knife streaks.
The climax of the first Scary Movie parodied The Matrix bullet-time scene with a thrown circular tray. The killer bends back... and you can hear a crack. When time speeds back up, he can't "un-bend".
The trailer for Underworld Awakening has Selene go into super-speed (from her point-of-view) against a squad of armed guards, as she quickly slices their throats before they can fire off a shot. Strangely, the guards should have been better prepared, given that she wakes up in The Unmasked World, where humans are openly hunting vampires and lycans.
When the hostage explodes in the opening of Swordfish, the film moves into Bullet Time and does an Orbital Shot to showcase the damage done to everyone in the vicinity.
Notably averted in Man of Steel, under enforcement by the director. The action never slows down and the movements of the characters are shown in real time, to the point the camera itself can barely keep up. That, and the natural durability of the characters, really hammers home just how insanely fast and powerful the Kryptonians are.
X-Men: Days of Future Past features a young Quicksilver. His scenes usually just show his movement as a blur, but his bullet-time sequence, as well as highlighting how he sees the world when he runs, shows him to be not just fast enough to dodge bullets meant for him—he's fast enough to artfully rearrange them in flight so that they do not hit his allies. AFTER running a lap of the room and inventively messing with over half a dozen shooters on the opposing side.
Lone Wolf: In Book 9, The Cauldron of Fear, during an escape from jail, it is possible for Lone Wolf (on a very high roll helped by Huntmastery and the Circle of Solaris) to see time slowing down as arrows fly toward him, and cut them into matchwood with his sword in one strike.
A trick frequently used by K. A. Applegate in Animorphs; when one of the characters are on the edge of death, in battle, time seems to slow down. It's never explicitly called bullet time, though.
Rin, of the Books Of Bayern, can move into a state where she has "one foot in the world of humans and one in the world of trees." In this state, she is able to dodge incoming arrows, because apparently trees do not comprehend time. Eh, we'll buy it.
Umbo from Pathfinder has the literal version of this: he can speed up people's perceptions of time, thus enabling them to think and react faster.
In Sergey Lukyanenko's Rough Draft, the protagonist can speed up after becoming a customs officer-functional as part of his powers "package". Of course, police-functionals are even faster, as their job is to, well, police all other functionals. When the protagonist ends up in Earth-1 (a.k.a. Arkan), the human soldiers sent after him use pills to temporarily accelerate, as the protagonist hightails it as super-speed, dodging machineguns and helicopter gunship cannons. The novel specifically mentions him seeing the soldiers move very slowly (from the protagonist's point-of-view), until the pills kick into effect, and they suddenly move at his pace.
In Starlight and Shadows trilogy by Elaine Cunningham, a berserker rage does this to the point where even hand crossbow bolts aren't too fast to swat with a cudgel or dodge out of square hits.
One of the earliest TV examples is the 1996 Sliders episode "Double Cross." The CGI used was not nearly as convincing as that of The Matrix.
MythBusters provide us with a rare non-fiction example of Bullet Time in their tests, most notably those involving guns or explosions. The effect is achieved by using high speed cameras to get more frames of the shot, then slowing down the image. The resulting footage is slowed down enough to see a shockwave expanding out from a massive explosion, but still looks as smooth as if it was being played in real time.
The Discovery series Time Warp is all about this, in a semi-MythBusters-ish style (it does only realistic stuff, compared to the wackiness that can be myths on MythBusters).
Sons Of Guns: It's a show about a Lousiana firearms manufacturer.
The History Channel uses high speed cameras frequently on Lock and Load with host R. Lee Ermey. Then again, the show is mostly about guns. So...
Kamen Rider Kabuto uses a variation of this where characters with super speed fight each other in a fraction of a second, so the show uses Bullet Time to slow the action for the viewer's benefit. This results in a near frozen environment (raindrops or glass shards very slowly still falling, or in one instance a character thrown into the air by an explosion still serenely rotating several feet up) while the fighters battle at a more normal speed.
Kamen Rider Wizard has the post-script two-part team-up. Kabuto and Faiz in Accel mode battle two Worms at high speed while two other Riders fight non-speedy monsters. We switch from Kabuto and Faiz's point of view, where they fight at normal speed and Time Stands Still for the other nearby battle, to that of the others, which now takes place at normal speed while a messy, sparky blur occurs nearby.
Appears within the first 60 seconds of Legend of the Seeker's pilot episode (with crossbow bolts, natch), and exploited frequently from there on and included in nearly every fight scene.
Referenced in an episode of QI. While discussing how a fly would see a movie (they would see it more like a slide show, with frame-black-frame-black, etc.), one guest notes: "A fly must sit there, watching the Matrix, thinking "When is something going to happen?""
The series Once A Thief used Bullet Time, since it was based on a John Woo movie that also made use of it.
In an old The Outer Limits episode, a pilot crash lands. Time for him remains the same, but time in the location he lands slows to a crawl. While in the town, he realizes that a truck is rolling down an incline and will run over a little boy riding his tricycle. He uses a safety belt to tie the emergency brake to the tires, and the truck is stopped before it hits the boy.
One episode slowed time down as Fred shot a bullet through Jasmine and into Angel. This was a major plot point. Individuals enthralled by Jasmine would snap out of it when they were exposed to her blood, so the Bullet Time Cam showed that the bullet carried Jasmine's blood with it as it entered Angel's body.
Also used in later episodes of Season 5 to show the time slowing effect of Iliria.
In an episode of Psych, Shawn watches a bullet travel in bullet time. Unfortunately, his hyper-awareness has always been bullet time fast, but he's not. He gets shot.
The Cube is a stunt game show which uses an array of special cameras around the playing field (the title cube) to achieve this effect. For example, the show often freezes the action or goes into slow-motion as the camera angle swings around, usually at a strategically-timed point such as when the contestant just jumped and is still in midair.
Any time firearms are used in Auction Hunters. Strangely enough, this trope can be seen at numerous other times for purely dramatic effect while dealing with non-high speed events.
Used in several episodes of Sherlock to show just how fast the eponymous character's brain works — in comparison to him, everybody else thinks in slow motion. Notably in "A Study in Pink", when he explains to John how he knew about Afghanistan or Harry, and in "A Scandal in Belgravia", when he decrypts the code.
Though not a straight example, Piper's ability to seemingly stop time demonstrates this when she freezes bullets, and that tends to happen on occasion. The same goes for Cole when he's stockpiles up on demonic powers in Season 5.
In a second season episode, a hired hit-woman goes after the Sisters and attempts to gun them down. The action momentarily slows down to show Prue using her powers to stop and repell the woman's bullets back at her. And in a seventh season episode the action slows down again while Kyle has Phoebe hostage, a gun pointed at her head as he demands to talk to Avatar Leo. Time slows when Leo throws lightning at Kyle, Kyle throws a vanquishing potion at Leo, and Phoebe just barely dodges the bullet fired from Kyle's gun.
Walking with Dinosaurs and its related series often utilized this. Most memorable examples are when the Gastornis bird attacks the Propalaeotherium and when a Hyaenodon chases an entelodont, making a splash in a puddle, and the camera circles around them.
In The Dead Zone, medium Johnny Smith can have visions in Bullet Time, sometimes even reviewing or replaying them, to get a better perspective of the events he's seeing. For example with a car crash, for which he examine every second in every angles, to see exactly how it will happen.
The Japanese Electropop band Polysics parodied this one in one of their videos.
The mostly animated music video for Ko Rn's "Freak on a Leash".
Sphere's video for "Future Stream" has scenes where one member walks around while the other three are frozen in place. As shown in the behind the scenes footage, this was done in the low budget way of everybody simply standing still, with the "floating" props hanging on strings.
Another parody of The Matrix can be seen in the clip for "Chihuahua" by DJ Bobo. Chihuahua in Bullet Time!
A version of the effect, simplified enough to be done live is sometimes used in NFL football games when an interception is thrown. This effect is emulated in the Madden series of video games, where action stops for a few seconds on changes of possession (interceptions, fumble recoveries or kick/punt returns) while the video rotates to take on the perspective from behind the team now in possession of the ball.
There are experimentations with camera technology to get Matrix-style bullet time replays into NFL and baseball games.
A tabletop example can be found in the Mutants & Masterminds supplement Mecha & Manga. Bullet Time is a power that allows you to spend a hero point while using extra effort to gain an amount of extra actions dependent on the power's rating. However, you may only get one extra attack through this method, though this is due to balance the damaging system of the game.
Happens in Transformers: The Ride when Megatron fires at the riders but misses, and again when EVAC (the ride vehicle) fires at Bonecrusher.
The Max Payne games were one of the first franchises to use this concept in gaming.
Alan Wake. The gameplay will slow down into a cinematic bullet time, complete with the rotating camera, whenever something mildly awesome is done, like when dodging an attack well, lighting a flare moments before getting swarmed, or lighting up the Taken in a particularly flashy manner. This combined with the light and particle effects makes these scenes especially awesome.
Achron has a multiplayer variant of this trope, which is interesting because the Bullet Time is subjective; you don't slow time for all the other players when you activate the ability. It's usually used to better micromanage battles.
Ōkami features Kasugami's ability to slow down time, allowing you to, say, sneak past those pesky guards, or see an ultra-fast attack. It's also incredibly awesome to be able to mow down a whole bunch of Mooks in a fraction of a second, or beat up someone while they're in the middle of a Flash Step. A subversion also takes place: Kasugami, the god of Mist, about to be attacked by flying guitars, slows them down using his power while jumping and twisting dramatically... and gets hit by them anyway.
John Marston's "Dead Eye" ability in Red Dead Redemption slows everything to a crawl and allows the player to take the time to aim precision shots at difficult targets. Later in the game it can be upgraded so rather than actually shooting people while in Dead Eye mode you just "paint" targets and at the pull of the trigger let off a hale of gunfire at high speed.
The later Burnout games have Impact Time, which lets you slow down time after a collision and use the burning debris from accidents to destroy opponents or alter your flying car's trajectory to smash into more destructible stuff.
In Cobalt Bullet Time is activated whenever your character enters at critical moments. This usually happens whenever you are fired upon at close range or by very powerful weapons. This is for you to either get out of the way of incoming fire, or block it with a combat roll.
The bullet slowdown mode is a feature available to all playable characters in the Espgaluda series, through the consumption of jewels acquired through the game; however, failing to deactivate the slowdown mode before the jewel counter is depleted makes all of the onscreen bullets travel twice as fast their normal speed (see this video for example).
Fallout 3's VATS system was announced by Bethesda as their attempt at TBS, but it appears to have all the features of Bullet Time, except for any resource expense to use it, making it comparatively a cheat. But it does come with a highly flexible and intuitive camera system to dramatize the action sequence, even using shaky-cam and desaturated effects. You can freeze time for any amount of time but action points limit the number of actions you can take. VATS also automatically aims your shots and ignores the gun's scope if it has one. This effect is also seen under certain circumstances without VATS — say, managing a headshot on an unaware enemy that results in a One-Hit Kill. Notably referred to as the "Kill Cam" in the developers tools. Additionally, the ludicrously popular New Vegas overhaul mod 'Project Nevada' comes with the ability to activate bullet time, with awesome results.
Fallout: New Vegas also introduced the Turbo drug and the non-addictive perk version of it, "Implant GRX", which are more traditional versions of video game Bullet Time.
The previously mentioned "Kill Cam" is used during some melee kills, making it less a bullet time and more a melee time. Though it is also used straight when firing arrows from your bow, some magic spells at range, and crossbows (with the Dawnguard Expansion DLC).
There is also an ability [perk] in the "Archery" skill tree that will allow you to slow down time while you take a shot. It uses your stamina attribute to maintain the effect (as long as you are "aiming").
First Encounter Assault Recon lets you do this due to your "enhanced reflexes" that magically make your weapon fire twice as fast at the same time. Worth mentioning that Point Man (and later Beckett) are psychics, so 'magically' isn't that far off. Also lampshaded in the manual: you can go Guns Akimbo with the standard pistols in the game because the player character was specifically trained for it, due to said enhanced reflexes.
In Geist, traveling around as a ghost slows everything around you to a crawl. Later on, at least two of the bodies you can inhabit pick up a suit of armor that gives you limited amounts of bullet time slowdown in battle. If you're clever, you can even use both at the same time...
In Jade Empire, while you only fight one enemy who shoots actual bullets at you, the PC possesses the ability to use 'Focus Mode,' which puts you in a limited-duration Bullet Time. This comes in surprisingly handy on harder difficulty levels. The end boss can do this too, if you use focus mode yourself they cancel and it plays at normal speed. Given who taught it to your character, this isn't really surprising.
Using Force Speed in Jedi Knight: Jedi Outcast and Jedi Academy will slow down time, allowing you to fire or dodge blaster bolts in a de facto bullet time.
Also, killing another lightsaber user (or, on one level, speeder bike rider) slows the whole game into bullet time for a second just for effect. The slo-mo spinning death cam is actually an option in the menu: turning it to the highest level means the effect is triggered for every kill the player makes. It's impractical and the delay will probably get you killed, but it does result in a surprisingly cinematic Adrenaline Time effect when fighting packs of mooks.
Star Wars: Jedi Starfighter has a similar power called Force Reflex available when flying as Adi Gallia, the Jedi pilot. It does stretch Suspension of Disbelief a bit more than simply deflecting blaster bolts with a lightsaber, since your ship also becomes capable of turning on a dime, dodging lasers, firing at an increased rate, and other things that should be mechanically impossible, at least without jellying the pilot and melting itself, but the laws of physics gave up on the Star Wars universe a long time ago, so what's one more violation?
Furies in The Legend of Spyro games have this, with included Visual Effects of Awesome. The Eternal Night also has an extra power for Spyro, fittingly called "Dragon Time", which slows time down for everything around him.
Need for Speed: Most Wanted and Carbon have the Speedbreaker, which slows down time so you can easily take any tricky corner (it even makes it easy to take an U-turn with the Dodge Challenger at full speed!), and also makes your car heavier to let you toss around squad cars with little effort.
One of the powers available to the Prince of Persia in the recent Sands of Time trilogy, what with the various time-controlling artefacts around, is naturally the ability to slow time's passing.
In RuneScape, the only way to dodge poison darts in the Agility Dungeon, your character has to enter bullet time and dodge them in a direct homage to The Matrix. However, this particular obstacle takes the most time to complete and has the worst penalty for failure (fail too often and you can't attempt it for a while) in that particular dungeon. So it's generally avoided whenever possible.
The Trauma Center games temporarily slow time down during an operation whenever Derek activates his "Healing Touch". What happens when Stiles' Healing Touch happens twice? He puts The Flash to complete shame and becomes a syringing, suturing GOD.
Virtua Cop 3 has the "Exceeding Sense" mode, activated by stepping on a pedal. When activated, time slows down to the point where enemy bullets become visible and can be shot away. Obviously, there is a limit to how much you can do this, shown by an on-screen gauge.
The discussion of the trope should not be without mentioning the formal Trope Namer, Max Payne. The game was the first to use Bullet Time as an actual play mechanic. The sequel actually allows you to quickly reload in bullet-time, which has Max (or Mona) rapidly spin with the guns magically reloaded at the end. There's something John Woo-ish about this.
In Wolfenstein, Bullet Time is one of several powers granted to B.J. by the mystical Thule Medallion.
Getting Molasses Time in Backyard Skateboarding made you extremely slow, which allowed you to perform extremely high-point combos.
In the game Wet, your amazing acrobatic moves slow down into bullet time whenever you draw your guns and start blasting away.
The 1999 FPSRequiem: Avenging Angel featured a bullet-time power called "WARP TIME". The game's demo coincided with the release of The Matrix in theaters, resulting in some positive comparisons at the time.
The Climax Mode Limit Break in Afterburner Climax slows time down when setting up and launching the Macross Missile Massacre, but you get knocked out of it when your bird gets hit, almost as if the game is punishing you for being n00b enough to still get hit despite the missiles and crap moving slower.
Youmu Konpaku of the Touhou series will regularly slow everything down for most of her spellcards in Perfect Cherry Blossom. Bullet Time is even more epic when there's hundreds of bullets coming at you.
Time Shift uses Bullet Time as an essential game mechanic. You cannot finish the game without using the time powers, and even with them it's still hard.
In the first game, collecting 20 intel laptops would unlock the "Slow-Mo" cheat. When the cheat is active, you lose the ability to knife things in return for being able to slow time down.
In Modern Warfare 2, time will automatically slow down (though not enough to see individual bullets flying) every time you breach a door with explosives to simulate the kind of reflexes a soldier needs in order to quickly clear out rooms of hostiles without retaliation.
Possibly the first game ever featuring this was Unreal Tournament (1999), although you could only trigger it with a console command. Just start a Practice Session, and during gameplay, type slomo 0,X into the console. The result is a scalable bullet time environment, considering that slomo 0,1 means super-slow, slomo 0,9 means just a little slower than normal. If you type a number greater than 1 after slomo, you receive a faster gameplay - this can be any number, but after a while, your machine will not keep up with the pace. Any number after 15 caused major suffering to the machine... Slomo 0,0 doesn't work, if you want Time Freeze, there is a command for that too. Combine this with the command behindview 1, and just watch as the game turns into a familiar TPS, only you have more freedom. The mentioned commands only work against bots of course.
Even earlier, consuming a red potion in Pathways Into Darkness would cause the game world to slow down to ridiculous levels, complete with distorted audio. This was back in 1993.
An Infiltrator with a high enough sniper rifle rating can get a few seconds of bullet time when looking down a sniper scope, to help the player line up a headshot. Soldiers also get the exclusive "Adrenaline Rush" perk, which is like a cross between this and Adrenaline Time. Vanguards can also specify whether their Biotic Charge either affects a larger area of impact or enters bullet time after the impact; perfect for lining up a meatshot on a ragdolling enemy.
The Soldier "Adrenaline Rush" can be used to take it one step further. When you sprint, the time is also slowed down slightly. If you activate the Adrenaline Rush and sprint, the missiles and enemies nearly stand still while you storm across the room. Now, how cool is that? You can outrun a missile!
In Painkiller, the Haste and Double Haste cards have this effect.
Half-Life 2's SMOD has an HEV Suit function which slows down time, mainly giving the player an increased reaction time, even to the point of dodging bullets! Certain players use the cheat for unlimited AUX power to have a little fun with this and, the installation of SMOD: CSS Sci-Fi, Redux, and a few others allow options for how it works such as Default, F.E.A.R. style, Max Payne, Time stop (Stopping other NPC's and Physics but simply slowing down the player while bullets are still hitscan), and Script style (Physics, NPC's and the Player slow down but bullets retain their hit scan properties as if the "Host_timescale" command was used)
Doom 3's expansion pack Resurrection of Evil has the "Heart of Hell" artifact, central to the plot of the game. Once you kill the first of the bosses, you gain the "Helltime" power, allowing the Heart of Hell to slowdown time around all things but the player, complete with changes to the pitch and speed of all sounds around them. It can be later combined with a "Berserker" power and an "Invulnerability" power from later bosses, allowing a fully powered up Heart of Hell to make the player nearly unstoppable for a short time.
BloodRayne: One of Rayne's 'Vision modes'. Curiously it doesn't run out and need to be recharged, so you could play the entire game in slow-mo if you wanted. The second game also added 'super speed' and 'stop time' as upgrades.
Bayonetta has this as a signature mechanic — dodge an attack the instant before it would hit and you enter "Witch Time", where enemies are so slow they might as well be standing still. It's the best way to get hits in against the game's tougher, lightning-fast monsters — which is why the Harder Than Hard mode, Nonstop Infinite Climax, makes it nearly impossible to activate.
God Hand causes time-slowing whenever choosing a move from the God Reel/Roulette/Wheel.
Done completely unintentionally in the classic Star Raiders for the Atari 8-Bit Computers. When a Zylon ship is destroyed, the game draws an exploding cloud of pixels for several seconds. That maxed out the processing power of the Atari, so the game slowed down temporarily... which proved beneficial when there was a second Zylon ship nearby.
Devil May Cry 3 introduces Quicksliver style, which allows Dante to slow down time. It's first used by the boss Geryon.
Chaos Legion has a Legion sidekick which can slow down time for the enemies, in addition to raining Beam Spam on said enemies.
The Titan Motion in Will Rock. Unlike other examples here, it totally sucks since it slows down even your own bullets.
In Inazuma Eleven, the Heaven's Time hissatsu technique allows the user to slow down time around them to a near-halt, leisurely walk past opponents while dribbling the ball, after which the effect wears off and a whirlwind occurs in the space they passed through (presumably because of all the air particles they displaced) and blows the opponents off their feet.
Some Flash games do this by accident; if the game requires more CPU time than your computer has to spare, the effect will often be to slow the game down to a crawl without any loss of detail or frameskipping. In most games this will also cause an Interface Screw due to the game cursor taking seconds to reach the real cursor's location, or due to keyboard commands not being recognised until the character has finished their current action. In others (where the controls remain responsive), it can let the player get through Bullet Hell or slice up countless mookswithout a scratch.
inFAMOUS has the "Precision" mechanic, which slows things down to allow Cole to set up long-range sniper-like blasts of electricity. Especially useful for picking mooks off buildings, or knocking them away from gun turrets, but the game does not tell you that, while you're zoomed in, you're draining your energy, so if you take too long setting up a shot, you might suddenly find that you don't have the power necessary to actually shoot.
In Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine, the unlockable "Marksman" upgrade to Fury mode slows down time for Titus, allowing him to line up precision shots with his weapon. Extremely useful for putting Stalker-pattern bolter rounds and lascannon shots on target in the middle of a frenetic firefight.
In the 1980 sci-fi RPG game Star Quest: Rescue at Rigel, the hero is equipped with the AMBLE ("Accelerated Movement through Bio-electronic Enhancement") system which, when activated, grants the player two moves per round and increases the damage from melee attacks, but also causes fatigue while it's on (and being completely fatigued makes the hero helpless).
Resident Evil 5 frequently uses Bullet Time in cutscenes whenever Wesker's involved.
Perfect Dark has an item called the Combat Boost which, when administered, slows down your perception of time for greater reaction speed and accuracy. (It was originally called the Adrenaline Pill, but this was later bowdlerized.) There is also a cheat called Singer Play Slo-Mo in which every level can be played this way.
Saint Seiya: Sanctuary Battle has the "7th Sense" mode where enemies move slower as well as their attacks and projectiles. While using 7th Sense, some of your cosmo-attacks will trigger special camera angles with the whole game frozen for a second.
One upgrade in Tesla The Weather Man allows you to press Shift to slow down time enough to pluck bullets right out of the air with the levitation ability.
Jude's ARM in Wild ARMs 4 has the ability to allow him to move in an incredibly high speed, called Accelerator. His Assault Buster skill is the result of him using this ability in battle to slash the target multiple times in super speed.
In Freelancer, there is a cut-scene involving Trent and a couple of Liberty Security Force officers who are chasing down Lonnigan. They shoot bullets, and as the camera follows the bullet, it does so in bullet time.
In Grand Theft Auto 5, Michael has this as his special ability. This can be useful when you're playing with "Free Aim". It's also Franklin's special ability, which can only be used when you are driving. It comes in handy during street races, as it makes your car much easier to maneuver around corners.
Included in one of Jurassic Park: Trespasser's mods that attempted to make this Obvious Beta more playable. The effect kicks in whenever a dinosaur attacks, usually by raptors jumping near the player. Sadly, it also slows down the player, and only wears off after getting to a safe distance from the dinos or by killing them — a hard task, since the player's laughably slow to begin with.
MDK 2 has a time-limited "Slo Mo" mode for Max the six-legged robot dog, though the game keeps it a secret. In the PC version, it's activated by pressing Equip — no matter if it equips a weapon or not — four times while holding down Fire. The effect lasts only for around half a minute, but it's cool nonetheless, and it can be activated as many times as the player wishes.
In Viewtiful Joe, Joe has VFX Slow which allows him to dodge a great deal of stuff. Later on, it actually becomes impractical to just "dodge" them, however.
A feature in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is "Reaction Phase" when you get spotted for the first time. The game goes into a bullet time like phase to give players a few seconds to dispatch an enemy before he can call in reinforcements. Or if you don't like that, you can just turn it off.
Sega's 1981 arcade game Astro Blaster had a Warp button that allowed the player to slow down the action to a crawl for 10 seconds that can only be used once per ship in each level.
Two instances in the climax of BIONICLE 3: Web of Whadows: the first when Nuju flips around a string of Visorak web, causing two Visorak to collide underneath him; and later when Vakama blasts Matau with a spinner. As the camera angle changes, it becomes obvious Matau is a flat, 2D animated image.
Parodied a few times in Kerwhizz with the characters reacting in normal time while their racing pods are in ultra-slow motion.
When programming in some languages — typically in lower-level languages (as in closer to the bits and bytes of machine language) — it is possible to make multitasking more efficient with interrupts. In particular, pieces of hardware can initiate interrupts, each having its own priority; and it is sometimes possible to code interrupts with higher priority than the system clock. A millisecond just passed? Sorry, that will have to wait — the system is busy running a subroutine in bullet time.
Rumor has it that when we humans get ourselves into an extremely dangerous situation, our mind projects the illusion that everything has slowed down so that we have time to think. It's busted, though. The perception that time has slowed is probably an artifact of how we notice lots more detail in our surroundings when we're terrified, as our senses and brains go into a hyperalert state to try and detect a way out. Because sensing so much information would normally demand extra time and attention, we remember such experiences as taking longer than they actually do.