Singularity is a game that I’d heard of but didn’t know too much about it, even after I had a copy in my hands, so going into this title, I really had no idea what I was in for. Released on June 29th for the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC by Activision and Raven Software, Singularity gives us first person shooter game-play that reminded me of a liaison between Half Life 2 and Bioshock 2 with the graphics and presentation of story elements and characters. While not quite as exciting as either of those, it does offer some pretty good entertainment; so if you’re in the mood for a sci-fi horror shooter with alternate histories and parallel realities, let’s check out Singularity.
This game is scary as hell, well, at least initially as you don’t know what the hell is going on. During World War 2, Russia discovered a new element called E99 on a remote island named Katorga-12 that had the potential to give Russia the power to overcome the United States dominating Atomic Bomb. The two scientists in charge of its unlimited research had conflicting ideas as to how to properly utilize it so disaster struck, killing everyone on the island… Or so we thought. Fast-forward to 2010 when an American satellite spies some kind of electronic disturbance over the island, and you, Black Ops Captain Nate Renko, are sent in to investigate. Of course, all hell breaks loose as you realize what’s really going on and that’s only the beginning.
Early on some crazy time-shifting energies put you in a situation that alters reality making Russia the global world power that has destroyed massive sections of the world’s largest countries with E99 bombs and weapons. So there’s your goal, you’ve got to find a way to go back in time and prevent this from happening. Like Bioshock 2, there are littered notes, audio files and projectors scattered throughout the environment that tell lots of back and side story of those who lived on the island before the tragedy. The story is pretty neat and actually keeps you hooked the entire time, but it’s supposed to, that’s kind of a requirement in sci-fi horror shooters like this. There are 3 different endings that you can actually play all in a row if you want and of course they all follow a series of plot twists, but there is no final battle so the ending is anti-climatic.
Singularity took me about 8 hours to complete which seems to be pretty standard for first person shooters, but the fun really stopped there. Once I completed the game I really didn’t have any reason to go back and play through it again. There is a multiplayer section built in that gives you access to only two game modes: Team Deathmatch and a Territories game; but I found them to be extremely boring. The multiplayer revolves around the mechanics of creatures vs. soldiers, and it seemed really unbalanced. The creatures were significantly more underpowered than the soldiers and the soldiers were just boring to play. In the single player campaign, you get a ton of really interesting and awesome powers, but those aren’t carried over to the multiplayer together. There are 4 classes, each with one or two powers, so you’ve essentially taken all of the really cool things from single player, and spread them out over 4 different classes.
Fortunately the single player campaign is really good. The maps are quite large with lots of side areas to explore and you won’t be sprinting through running and gunning because the monsters will mess you up and lots of the time, you barely have enough ammo and health packs to keep yourself alive. So all in all, I think the single player campaign was very well designed for this sub-genre, but the multiplayer sucks ass.
The game-play in Singularity is actually very creative, continually giving you access to new mechanics to keep things interesting throughout the entire 8 hours. You’ll gain access to all of the standard weapons including a pistol, assault rifle, shotgun and rocket launcher and all of them are upgradeable with weapon upgrades that you collect allowing you to enhance the damage, clip size and reload speed of each. There are also power weapons including “The Seeker” that allows you to control the path of the bullet as it travels to allow some really crazy and powerful kills.
The real entertainment comes from the Time Machine Device as its unique game-play mechanic allows you to age or reverse age objects and enemies to solve puzzles and kill monsters. You can move objects, transform enemies into monsters, slow or accelerate enemy’s lives, and slow time in a stasis field. You’ve basically got a ton of game-play options to always keep things interesting. There are even some elements reminiscent of Portal… Say hi to the companion cube. The Time Machine Device can also be upgraded with fragments of E99 giving special perks, permanent stat boosts, and allowing you to better utilize items like health packs. You can also open rifts in pre-defined locations to travel back and forth between present day and 1950. This was a neat feature, but I think it would have been a lot cooler if you were able to shift back and forth at will, or even open a portal to utilize during combat. Perhaps if a sequel is made they could implement this feature.
You don’t ever have to save your game as a pretty good auto-save system continually captures your progress, but this of course means you can only have a single instance of the game running at a time. You have unlimited lives and you’re gonna need that because you’re going to die a lot. All in all, the single player campaigns game-play mechanics are extremely fun and will keep you entertained the entire play-through.
I didn’t think that the graphics were all that great, at least on the console version. From a distance everything looks pretty good, but when you get up close everything just looks like garbage. I didn’t get a chance to play this on the PC, but I’ve got to think that things looked a bit better for that version. Unlike most games that utilize the Unreal Engine 3, I actually didn’t notice any frame rate drops while I played, but of course the signature texture popping existed in full force. Like Bioshock 2, the World War 2-style propaganda everywhere for E99 in Kotorga-12 were really cool and I was actually interested to read through all of it.
The soundtrack that accompanies your journey is nothing special, but the voice acting is pretty decent as most of the characters have strong Russian accents or simply speak Russian. After playing through this, I’d have to say the game’s presentation is probably one of its weakest points, but I don’t’ think it should be a deterrent from wanting to give it a shot.
I had a pretty fun time playing through the single player campaign of Singularity. The game-play mechanics of the Time Machine Device that allow you to solve puzzles and kill enemies, as well as the utility of the power weapons really kept things interesting as hordes of creatures threaten to keep your health bar depleted. The story is extremely interesting and has lots of plot twists to keep you guessing all the way to the end, but the enjoyment really ceases once you finish the 8-hour single player campaign. I found the two multiplayer modes rather bland and un-interesting so you’re really only getting 8 hours of entertainment for 60 bucks. I’d say this is probably a game worth renting, but I wouldn’t fork out full price for this bad boy yet. What do you guys think? Leave your questions and comments below!
Developer: Raven Software
Platform: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Review Video: http://www.youtube.com/ZeitgeistReview
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**This title was provided to me free of charge from the publisher to review for you.