Release Date: 6/29/2010
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A lot of developers with risky ideas tend to get low funding, and in some rare cases, the game turns out well. Singularity is one of those games with a low-budget feel, but with AAA ideas. You play as a special ops agent named Nate Renko who is sent to an island called Katorga-12 and must stop the singularity. In 1955 Russians found a new element called E99 and tried using it as a new weapon to wipe out America. The experiments went wrong due to an evil and greedy man and a scientist who created it all. The story is pretty decent, but very hard to follow, and feels like something from a sci-fi TV series.
The game starts out kind of like BioShock or Half-Life, and even Fallout 3 with an introduction of excellent atmosphere and first-person real-time narrative with movie reels, and the whole destroyed apocalypse feeling. It never really strays from this, but it does wear off fairly quickly and the game’s atmosphere loses its touch after you get further into the game.
The game has very fun gunplay, but the weapons are what draw your attention and make you want to actually shoot stuff. You get your typical pistol, shotgun, and assault rifle entourage, but there are other unique weapons like a grenade launcher that lets you control the grenade on the ground, so when you let go of the alt-fire button it will blow up where you want. My favorite weapon is a mix of a sniper rifle and grenade launcher that lets you control the bullet and steer it. Watching enemy’s heads blow up or legs coming off is very satisfying and never gets boring.
While the guns are fun to shoot and feel powerful and satisfying it’s the time manipulation that pulls the game’s fun factor up. You find the TMD about 20% into the game and it lets you do a slew of things. Aging enemies into a corpse, bringing back stuff from the time such as destroyed ammo crates, electrical boxes, aging safes to get inside, renewing crumpled staircases, etc. Another ability allows you to create a bubble and everything inside is slowed down, you can also use a telekinetic power to throw objects around as well as an impulse ability that pushes enemies away. The game allows you to use the TMD in large epic ways such as restoring a broken down train, but you always feel the TMD isn’t used to its full capacity.
You can upgrade the TMD with perks such as longer durations for powers, allowing extra energy when killing enemies, as well as upgrading weapons with more firepower, faster reloading, and bigger clips. While the upgrades are a nice touch they don’t really make a huge impact like you would think and the game adapts to these upgrades too fast so you always feel like you’re not quite powerful enough.
While it’s neat to reverse time and go back in time to stop things from happening then come back you always feel the TMD and the whole time manipulation thing isn’t fleshed out enough. For example, there is a door in front of you that isn’t quite open enough to crouch under so you age a metal crate, slide it under, then bring it back and it pushed the door open. Not very creative and I feel that all of these time elements could have been fleshed out more. This isn’t the only game’s problem, but the biggest one is its looks. It uses the Unreal Engine 3 but looks kind of ugly with flat muddy textures, and the only real thing going for it is the lighting.
The creature design is pretty neat, but there’s not much variety and the story is very confusing. The game just loses the strong appeal that you get in the beginning towards the end. Singularity is a bunch of gory fun, but it feels like it could have been a lot more if Raven had gotten a bigger budget. If you like FPS games and are a fan of BioShock, Fallout, or Half-Life then you’ll appreciate what Singularity brings to the table, and can forgive its shortcomings.