Published on July 22nd, 2010 | by prime0
Singularity – Review
Summary: Singularity could best be described as a first-person horror shooter mixed with an uninspiring yet wonderfully chilling time-shifting sci-fi plot
Singularity’s debut is quite a dismal. It’s no surprise really, as the game’s pitiable pre-release coverage and uncharacteristically slack marketing campaign, leading to an almost complete lack of fanfare and expectation commonly associated with a title from one of the biggest names in the business. But it’s a great shame, considering Raven’s latest is one of the best games you’ll never play this year.
Singularity could best be described as a first-person horror shooter mixed with an uninspiring yet wonderfully chilling time-shifting sci-fi plot. Those pesky Russian scientists have once again found themselves playing with things they don’t quite understand, this time an energy source known as E99 which Stalin believes can be used to manipulate time, pushing their experiments to the point of creating a catastrophic time rift dubbed ‘Singularity’, and sending the island of Katorga-12 spiralling into chaos – and quarantined off from the rest of the world. 55 years later, following intelligence reports of activity on the island, a US recon team is sent in to find out what’s happening on the mysterious island, before discovering that they’re not the only one determined to get to the bottom of it.
So far, so early-noughties TV show, but Singularity’s influences don’t end there. It rips off almost every major game of the last decade, and some of the not so big ones, too. Its BioShock-alike tendencies are obvious from the get go, from Singularity’s crash-landing into an unknown civilization to the frequent radio chatter, while Wolfenstein appears to have been Raven’s proving ground for some of the features of the game’s Time Manipulation Device, which can be used to slow down time, rip open time rifts, and punish the island’s ghouls with a Force Unleashed-alike push. The game also frequently flirts with ideas from Half-Life, System Shock and TimeShift, with the player seamlessly switching between 1955 and 2010 on the fly, while the new abilities regularly paced throughout the entire game are similar to the gameplay-changing elements seen in Metroid Prime.
More impressively, Raven have presented a previously untapped Valve-alike quality in Singularity, with some perfect pacing, a harrowing atmosphere and an initial sense of player vulnerability that gradually transcends into an unstoppable, telekinesis-abled one-man killing machine. Whether being stalked by time-manipulating predators, plucking rockets out of the sky or walking through abandoned schoolyards complete with visions and haunted screams of slaughtered children, it’ll have you gripped all the way up to the final mindblowingly awesome end sequence.
The odd kinks do occasionally show – a brief section where the player is tasked with outrunning an army of explosive spiders proves to be utterly frustrating and ultimately unnecessary, while the reliance on using the same puzzle mechanic to prop open gates and security shooters goes someway to prove that Raven lacks an ability to think outside of the box.
But to focus on these elements would be to discredit Raven’s forte – its ability to set up jaw-dropping set-pieces and boss battles. Imagine a fantastic armament of weaponry, and scenarios that will remain with you long after the credits roll around. It deserves to live in the memory alongside the games it so desperately seeks to imitate, and indeed, it seems almost criminal that so few will likely get round to experiencing one of the better shooters we’ve seen this generation. But if you’re one of those gamers prepared to give it a try, rest safe in the knowledge that Singularity will likely prove to be one of the games of the summer.
As well as Singularity’s array of Raven-typical heavy weaponry, you’ll always have your trusty Time Manipulation Device (TMD) to fall back on once you acquire it around an hour into the game. The TMD has multiple uses, from reverting time to repair crates and bridges, advancing time to turn soldiers into dust, creating spheres energy to slow down time or to grab objects.
These large timewave explosions, though only occurring two or three times during the game, suddenly wash over the environment and blast Nate back to the same location 55 years ago, giving an insight into what really happened on Katorga-12. Alternatively, the player can find time rifts to rip open with their TMD, but are disappointingly used only once for puzzles.
Singularity’s multiplayer component is actually surprisingly good. There are two modes available. A point-grabbing assault/defend mode called Extermination, and the team Deathmatch with a twist, Creatures vs. Soldiers. The latter is our fave, pitting a group of soldiers against a team of mutants with their own abilities.