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Platform

Xbox 360

 

Genre

Shooter

 

Publisher

Activision

 

Developer

Raven Software

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

June 29, 2010

 

 

- Play “Spot the Homage!” throughout
-Some neat set pieces
- Multiplayer is a lot different different than single player
- Time powers are pretty cool

 

 

- Sudden “You Failed!” missions

- Puzzles are pretty darn simple
- Enemies will rush you 9 times out of 10

 

 

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Singularity

Score: 7.0 / 10

 

singularity          singularity

 

Ever since reading Ray Bradbury’s “A Sound of Thunder” as a kid, time travel has always been of interest to me. Raven Software’s Singularity massages that interest very well, not only with it’s own story but with its built-in references to other time traveling stories like LOST and Back to the Future.

While I had figured out the end “twist” within the opening minutes of the game (thanks to my familiarity with time travel -- the subject, not actual time travel), getting there was often a lot of fun thanks to some cool time manipulation powers

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and interesting set pieces.

The game takes place on Russian island Katorga-12 alternating between 2010 and 1955, and revolves around Element 99, which is the high fructose corn syrup of the game. It’s in everything and it’s the cause of everything. Time travel, mutant soldiers, super crops,

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etc. it can all be traced back to E-99. This is all explained in the game through a series of film strips, recordings left by survivors, and personal notes, which compliments the visuals to create a (dreadful) sense of place.

In this place your best friends are your upgradeable weapons. The usual guns are accounted for but Singularity throws in a few curve balls like a grenade launcher that shots a controllable grenade that rolls along the floor. Also on the same line, there’s a rifle that shoots a bullet that can be directly controlled and upon impact pretty much kills everything in one shot. Yes, that kind of thing has been done before, but it’s a satisfying way shoot around corners and hit enemies that you can’t even see. I stuck with the standard machine gun for almost the entire game thanks to a passive ability of the Time Manipulation Device (TDM), which is acquired early in the game.

The TDM has the ability to age and reverse-age items in the environment and enemies, but the most useful ability fires out a ball of energy that creates a bubble of slow down. It means that items caught in the bubble like bullets or enemies or exploding barrels slow to a crawl. This allows you to dodge bullets, conserve ammo by lining up head-shots, or clear a path for an easy escape, which is sometimes a better strategy than trying to swat a massive enemy. The only thing that prevents the abuse of this power is that the TDM recharges very slowly and “batteries” for it can be scarce (depending on the difficulty level). It’s not much of an impediment, to be honest, but it’s not a “Win” button by any means.

 

singularity          singularity


Raven Software did a great job with some of the set pieces, especially a bridge encounter with a massive beast and a run through a ship that is rapidly rusting and sinking. I also like the fact that I was constantly being shown something new, even if the game is super linear with a lot of corridors dotted with obvious “arenas” which I had to clear out before proceeding.

Most of the single-player game is thrown out when it comes to the multiplayer, which puts opposing teams in control of humans and the time-bending mutants from the single-player story. The humans play in first-person view while the mutants play in third-person. There are only two modes: Creature vs. Soldiers (Team Deathmatch) and Extermination, which tasks the Soldiers with repairing and holding controls points against the Creatures. Oddly enough, even with the limited options and maps, multiplayer can be a lot of fun, especially on the Creature side because they play so differently. It’s more about sneaking and melee swipes than it is about attacking from a distance. As with any multiplayer game, any lasting appeal will be down to how much of a community develops around Singularity and the jury’s still out on that.

Singularity might not grab the collective gamer consciousness but it’s a game worth playing, not just for the shooting and adventure of it, but to play the meta game of trying to identify the references and homage, intentional or not, from Half-Life 2 to Chronomaster to LOST to System Shock and many more.

- Aaron Simmer

(July 23, 2010)

 

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