- Posted June 29th, 2010 at 20:04 EDT by Steven Williamson
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Some will deem this an instant classic. Blasting heads clean off shoulders has never been so much fun.
- The classic shooter feel
- The range of prototype weapons and enjoyable time manipulation powers
- The location of Katurga-12 and the mysterious goings-on
- The lack of ammo when there's so many mutants to kill
- The predictable AI that follow the same behavioral patterns if you die
Bizarrely, Singularity has been one of the least hyped games of 2010. That wouldn’t be a concern to us if it was just another mediocre first person shooter, but it’s not. Raven Software’s first brand-new IP for ten years is actually one of the better first person shooters that we’ve played in recent years. It would therefore be a real travesty if its lack of publicity meant that some fans of the genre miss it.
Why Activision didn’t shout from the roof-tops about Singularity’s impressive weapon-set, well-paced action sequences and intriguing storyline we’ll never know. But in hindsight, when it reads many of the positive reviews that will undoubtedly be written about the game, it will probably wish it could get its hands on the FPS’s master weapon, the Time Manipulation Device (TMD,) to rewind time and do things differently. Okay, so there’s nothing remarkable about Singularity, but it does what it does very, very well to deliver a highly entertaining action game.
In many ways Singularity is a typical, old-school, fast-paced, first person shooter where blasting monsters and blowing heads clean off their shoulders is essentially what it’s all about. Also, like many other shooters, it lacks innovation and gains its influence from other games in the genre rather than conjuring up a batch of new ideas. In this case though, that’s not a criticism, because it borrows concepts from some great franchises. Furthermore, it implements them tremendously while building a world around some solid mechanics with impressive graphics, clever level design and enjoyable boss fights.
At times, Singularity mimics Bioshock’s appealing aesthetic, as does elements of the gameplay, such as collecting audio logs, or stopping off to use the Augmentor to upgrade weapons and gain perks. You’ll see Half Life’s influence in the way that you can manipulate objects (gravity gun style) and solve environmental puzzles, plus you’ll experience FEAR in its dimly lit corridors and occasional frights. It’s no coincidence either that you’ll also feel the studio’s Wolfenstein influence in its pacing, aggression and visual impact as you blow limbs clean off enemies.
Despite these similarities, Singularity still manages to feel fresh and exciting due to how well the developer has blended these ideas together and created an intuitive control scheme and appealing aesthetic. Even the storyline, despite being clichéd and over-the-top, drives things along nicely and is drip-fed to you through notes, audio logs, film clippings and well produced cut-scenes that do a great job to retain your interest and keep you eager enough to want to find out more.
The backdrop to the events in Singularity is the Russian’s search for Uranium in the 1950’s during The Cold War. Back then, the Russian government stumbled upon a powerful and rare element, codenamed E-99, and subsequently built a facility called Katarga-12 which they used to conduct field experiments in an attempt to harness its power. The Russians discovered that E-99 was also very volatile and, for reasons that you’ll be trying to uncover throughout the game, abandoned their secret experiments and buried the facility in the hope that it would never be found.
Fast forward to the present day and the Americans detect heavy radiation over the area where the facility is buried and fearing another Chernobyl disaster decides to investigate. They discover that the facility is riddled with flesh-eating monsters and full of secrets that you have to unveil. It’s a storyline that provides the perfect excuse to use a variety of human and high-tech weaponry to eliminate anything that stands in your way as you seek to uncover what the Russians were really up to.
What makes things a little different from many first person shooters is that you find yourself at points in the game passing through time rifts from the present day, killing mutants and scary big bosses one minute, before being transported back to the 1950s where Russian soldiers guard the facility. You move seamlessly between the two timelines and the experience is gelled together wonderfully by the intriguing storyline that sees you meeting up with an underground group called MIR-12 who are also seeking to expose Russia's secret experiments.
Just one part of Singularity’s appeal is the brilliantly designed secret Russian facility of Katurga-12. This ... (continued on next page) ----