Review: Singularity, The Power Glove of Time

Singularity

Only a couple of intro’s have intrigued enough to actually play the campaign in a FPS multiplayer game.  Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 wasn’t one of them, if you’d like to know, it was BioShock.  Singularity explores the rich element of E99 and it’s impact for the Soviet’s thanks to the investment from Joseph Stalin.  All of the effort during the Russian Cold War was spent on research and development on E99 and how it could progress the Red Army across all continents and essentially ruling the world.  While searching for deposits of Uranium, E99 was discovered on the remote island of Katorga-12 which is where you will begin your time shifting journey bouncing back and forth between the present year, 2010 and the past, 1955.  It’s hard not to think of “Back To The Future” where old Biff hands 1955 Biff the sports almanac, thus creating an alternate 1985. “Different to you, me, Einstein…” OK I’m rambling.

Gameplay and the game environment resemble BioShock. Throughout the campaign you’ll pick up audio and video recordings as well as hidden notes that will give you some insight on the mystery behind Katorga-12.  The ambiance and feel of the game is perfectly suited for the first person shooter game.  The controls are tight, your surroundings are responsive and the story is fantastic.  Singularity does “borrow” many ideas from other successful titles including BioShock but it also introduces some new ideas that make it stand out.  Your wits will be tested a couple of times with puzzles that need to be solved using your TMD.  A game that makes you think outside the normality of a FPS will always win points in any reviewers take on the game.  Good job Raven Software!

It’s all about the TMD. Time Manipulation Device is your key weapon similar to BioShocks plasmids. Sure you’ll have your standard FPS weapons too like; pistol, shotgun sniper rifle but the TMD is very powerful.  With the TMD you’ll be able to manipulate time changing items back and forth to new and old. Catching time rifts (orange glowing circles) will also transport you back and forth between 1955 and 2010.   Reverting soldiers back to before they existed will net you some achievements/trophies so give that a try.  You can choose to age items and even people with the L2 button or revert them back with R2.  You’ll also see TMD Augmentor stations that will give your character perks.  Using the E-99 tech points you pick up throughout the game, you’ll be able to equip perks such as additional health packs or higher weapon accuracy.

Weapons throughout. In Singularity you’re only permitted to carry two weapons at a time so you’ll need some weapon management along the way to succeed.  The first gun you pick up is the “Centurian” but you’ll quickly put that away after you pick up the AR9 Valkyrie rifle. Weapon Lockers allow you to upgrade, purchase additional ammo and also swap weapons.  I found that using the assault rifle and Volk S4 shotgun took care of most enemies.  Once you gather weapon techs you’ll use them to upgrade the particular weapons’ clip size, increase damage etc.  I was disappointed to the the melee attack of the combat knife replace with the TMD “shocker”.  When I ran out of ammo (it will happen) I found myself weaponless and waiting for the TMD to slowly regenerate.

Multiplayer without quantity. Ok, so we hit our first bump in the road.  The multiplayer in Singularity felt like a late add-on and little stands out.  You can choose one of two game types: Creatures vs. Soldiers or Extermination mode.  Creatures vs. Soldiers throws a 6 vs. 6 team deathmatch game with highest number of kills wins.  Extermination mode is a battle over beacon control — similar to capture the flag — but once a beacon is renewed by the soldiers or destroyed by the creatures you advance to the next beacon until all are destroyed or renewed.  Joining a match or balancing teams was also frustrating.

Linear or Free play. While I do wish Singularity took it up a notch with more of a free play style instead of the linear play I enjoyed it for what it was.  Some of the graphics were a bit on the poor side and objects I would have liked to see destructible weren’t.  i.e. boxes or pallets.  My only problem with linear titled games are the points of no return.  I always feel like I’m missing some ammo or extra E99 in a locker or in another room, but when doors close behind you there’s no turning back nor restore points to check if that’s true.  My expectations were met well and I was glad this game wasn’t entirely based on time travel.  It was a good mixture of Sci-fi, FPS and altering history books.  Think of switching the hammer in Day of the Tentacle and causing the cement sculpture to crumble.  Actions done today will change the outcome tomorrow.

Final Thought: Raven Software has a new IP it should be very proud of.  Last year’s 2009 Wolfenstein was a great game that deserved more recognition.  The same will be for Singularity.  The story and gameplay are excellent and entertaining.  Throughout the review, I looked for a solid shooter and that’s what Singularity delivered.   In about 10 hours you’ll unravel the mysteries behind Katorga-12 with some critical decisions to make.  Decisions that will change the outcome of your story.  Hmm, should I harvest or rescue the little sisters… sorry that was a bit of BioShock coming back to me.

8/10

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