Good pacing and an interesting story is enough to keep shooter fans happy despite some presentation issues.
Posted by Ben Thomas (nutcrackr) on Jul 12, 2010 - 7:38am EST (Jul 12, 2010 07:38)
Singularity is a sci-fi first person shooter from Raven that is set on a fictional island known as Katorga 12. The island was controlled by the Soviet Union in 1955 in order extract a fictional element called E-99. The element possesses untold power along with time travelling capabilities and would have given the Soviet Union absolute power if it weren’t for a terrible catastrophe. As Nate Renko you and your squad are shot out of the sky patrolling this island and you will come to know its inhabitants very well.
The setup and early presentation for Singularity will feel criminally familiar to BioShock fans. Here is a portion of humanity separated from the populace where a series of really-bad-things have happened. These bad things involve time travelling, ethics gone wrong and some horrific accidents you come to know quite well, some of which you are involved directly with. The opening segments of the game are slow paced, you don’t get to shoot anything until sometime after the introduction. Instead the game places you alone on the war torn island initially thick with desolation.
The game briefly gives you an overview of the entire island shown as a miniature in the lobby, after this point you can scour the hallways for notes that reveal some information before, during and after the tragic events that have occurred. If you are the information gatherer then there are lots of notes hidden away in corners that peel back layers of the puzzle. You also get a taste of the story via still working projectors and audio tapes in a similar style to the aforementioned BioShock.
It won’t be long before you get access to the Time Manipulation Device after the slow start. Before acquisition the game gives you a few standard weapons and some mutated beasties to shoot down just to get you into the groove. This start sets up a great mood but is over before the game completely capitalizes on the great setting. Once you get hold of the TMD though the action broadens and so does the story. You even get to travel back in time to 1955 around when the disaster struck the island. It won’t be your last trip back in time, many occurring for combat and story purposes.
The TMD that you acquire will give the player access to a few powers some of which have been influenced from other games. First up you get a gravity gun type power that allows you to use a handful of objects as projectiles at the expense of some E-99 energy. Most of these objects are explosive canisters or barrels but they also throw in the clichéd freeze canisters for good measure. Some enemies even hurl objects at you, so this power comes in handy for catching those projectiles but is rarely necessary.
You can also age enemies with the TMD or knock them back with an impulse burst. Normal soldiers will turn to dust through aging but it can be energy expensive. Mutated foes, like the blue Zek, can be brought out of phase allowing easier disposal with conventional weapons. Objects like door controls, stairs and boxes can also be aged or made new again with a little energy. Renewing items is required to progress along the linear path but you don’t have to think much. Impulse is a shockwave that knocks back close enemies and later tears them apart with the extra force acquired through upgrades. The most satisfying power is the Deadlock, creating an isolated portion of space time.