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Score: 7.0 / 10
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
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,
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
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.