Singularity is a game I hadn’t heard too much about before it’s release. I saw no commercials leading into it’s release, nor had I heard much else other than it being a First Person Shooter with time manipulation in it. Sneaking out in the middle of the summer when big titles are few and far between, Singularity doesn’t reinvent the wheel or have some new game changing mechanic but simply just does everything extremely well. Coming from Raven Software and published by Activision, it really shouldn’t come as a surprise that this game, without much of a hype machine behind it, is an engrossing and entertaining game.
Singularity stars Captain Nathan Renko, an American Special Forces solider sent to investigate a Russian island named Katorga-12 that is home to the only source of a mysterious substance known as Element 99. In the past, Russia built a secret laboratory on Katorga-12 to harvest and experiment with E99 until there was an accident and the island was abandoned. That was until recently when a US satellite was taken down by some sort of radiation surge. Your helicopter crashes and separates you from your commander, leaving you to investigate this strange island for yourself.
That is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this intense thriller of a game. From the opening sequence, the game gives off a heavy Bioshock-ish vibe, but believe me, that is a very good thing. The military complex resembles Rapture through the architecture, the use of audio logs, and the propaganda to give it that creepy anxious feeling. The game is so well designed and put together that the similarities never really stand out, but give a vague sense of familiarity. Environments are certainly well above average and nicely detailed with a good variety of surroundings to blow up and make your way through as you look to figure out just what went on at Katorga.
Shortly after your arrival, you soon realize that Element 99 has had a drastic effect on the fabric of time, causing waves and tears in time all over the island. You discover a device called the TMD (Time Manipulation Device) that the scientists there created which allows the wearer to shift items back and forward in time. Objects in the environment like stairs, ammo boxes, and traps can be shifted back and forth in time to help you along. It has a drastic effects on enemies, causing some to turn on their own kind, some to phase back into this time-line, and others age thousands of years in a second. The TMD is used throughout the game and is upgradable with more powers as well as customizable with player bonuses.
I should probably touch on the shooting in Singularity, as it is a FPS. The controls are comfortably tight and there is a solid selection of weaponry to help you out, including the standard shotgun, pistol, and the assault rifle. However, each of these basic guns feel solid and there is plenty more to choose from. The sniper rifle can slow time to allow for some brutal head shots. The Seeker lets you guide a bullet in slow motion via 'bullet camera' over long distances, which is quite awesome. Other weapons are found throughout Katorga including grenade launchers, rail guns, and let’s not forget, your TMD which can turn a Russian solider to dust with a simple flick of the wrists. Enemies vary from Russian soldiers to E99 mutants and all sorts of strange things you can expect from a communist science complex.
Singularity has its twists and turns throughout the single player mode and the action keeps an excellent pace and buildup throughout. Game mechanics are introduced at a good speed to keep things fresh and interesting. The multi-player component of Singularity is a good distraction from the single player with creature vs. solider combat, but seems like more of an afterthought after playing through the stellar single player.
I'm not sure how a game this well put together didn’t get more of a push, considering that it's published by Activision, but Singularity is a very worthy of a bit more polish and a AAA release. It may not be the most innovative shooter to come along this year, but it certainly is one of the best put together shooters of the year and a definite recommendation to any shooter fan.