Singularity – Review

Gaming

Game Name: Singularity
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Publisher(s): Activision
Developer(s): Raven Software
Genre(s): Shooter
Release Date: 6/29/2010
ESRB Rating: M (Mature) Blood and Gore Intense Violence Strong Language
Price (PS3/Xbox360): $59.99 (USD)
Price (PC): $49.99 (USD)

Story
“Fight the past to save the future. Stop the SINGULARITY.

Learn the truth behind a massive cover-up of the catastrophic SINGULARITY™, an event that fractured time and threatens the world as we know it. Armed with powerful, advanced weaponry and the experimental Time Manipulation Device, fight enemies from the past, the present, and abominations caught somewhere in between.” [Via Xbox.com]

The game takes place on an island by the name of Katorga-12. The Russians have discovered a special element that they call E99. This element has the ability to control time and the Russians have been busy trying to manipulate this element for their own use.

You are an American who has been sent to the island to look into an odd radiation disturbance that a satellite picked up. You thought the island was abandoned, but that turns out untrue. As you explore the island you will stumble upon time rifts, these time rifts let you travel between the 1950s and the present. After changing the past you discover that the present isn’t the same and set out to fix your mistakes through more time traveling and the help of the TMD (Time Manipulation Device).

Singleplayer Gameplay
Singularity starts you off wrecked on an island and trying to meet up with your partner who got separated from you during the crash. At first the island seems deserted but after falling through a giant time explosion and changing the past you start to run into mutated beings. Further investigation of the island reveals that some weird experiments were being done with the E99 that is harvested on the island. Notes and audio logs scattered throughout the game reveal more backstory, but they aren’t required. The audio logs require you to sit by them and listen to them which pretty much halt your gameplay if you want to hear them all.

Singularity is an FPS that lets you manipulate time, it takes a little while before you get the TMD (Time Manipulation Device) but once you get it the game becomes much more interesting. The TMD can do a lot of stuff and isn’t hard to use. With the click of a button you can either age items or renew them. You also have this impulse ability that lets you push enemies away from you, the impulse ability is actually pretty annoying though. The reason Impulse is annoying is because it requires power to use but replaces your melee attack. If you have no power and you have to reload your gun while surrounded by enemies, you become a sitting duck. It would have been nice to have a separate melee button as well as the impulse ability. Other abilities that you can do include pulling things out of phase, picking up items with an antigravity attachment, and creating deadlock spheres. Deadlock spheres slow down everything that enters them. Enemies come to a standstill while bullets slow down. The game uses all these time abilities to create puzzles for you as you progress through the game. The puzzles aren’t difficult at all and with the linear gameplay it isn’t very hard progression through the game.

The game literally makes it impossible to get lost. Even with the linear gameplay, there is a ping ability which shows you where to go. If you manage to get lost, one simple button press will tell you exactly where to go. It is a nice way to help new players but it feels like having someone hold your hand as you play the game. You don’t actually have to use it, but the knowledge of it always being there ruins a bit of the game.

Combat situations in the game are a lot of fun. With the ability to alter time mid combat, multiple tactics will arise. You could freeze all of the opponents in a deadlock and then put bullets in front of them so that when the deadlock shuts down the bullets kill everyone. You could use a sniper rifle and slow down time with the sniper rifle’s slow down ability. Sniping in Singularity is extremely satisfying; with the ability to slow down time you can shoot 5 guys in the head within seconds. Even terrible snipers will enjoy sniping in Singularity. Gibbing lets you shoot off arms, legs or even heads leaving a bloody fountain and a puddle of blood on the floor.

There is a slight RPG element present in the game as well. Throughout the levels you will find new abilities which you can then buy using E99 tech. You won’t run into enough tech to upgrade everything, so you must pick what to upgrade as you progress through the game. You can also upgrade guns by using weapon tech at a weapons locker. The same applies to guns, because it isn’t possible to upgrade every single one. You have to choose to either make your favorite gun really powerful, or make a few simply stronger. Weapon lockers are located throughout the game and they allow you to switch out weapons and upgrade them. Since you can only carry 2 weapons at a time it helps to strategize what weapons you are going to need to take out the following enemies. While every enemy is weak against certain weapons it isn’t that noticeable and they can all be taken out pretty easily with the shotgun or minigun. Throughout the levels you will collect ammo for all the guns, if you run out of ammo for your primary gun you can always switch it out for another until you restock its ammo.


Multiplayer Gameplay
Unlike most games, Singularities multiplayer is definitely not an afterthought. Sadly it still falls short of being incredible. I admit that it is fun, but the connection issues and the balancing problems are horrible and take away a huge chunk of the fun.

I should probably rephrase the balancing bit, but I couldn’t think of a better way to put it. When I say balancing I don’t mean the things you can use or people you can play as are overpowered, they are actually quite well rounded and each has a specific use. The characters all cater to a different play style and you can switch out at anytime without having to upgrade anything. When I say balancing, I mean the games themselves. When you are losing there is no possible way to come back. This is particularly noticeable in extermination. One team will be dominating while the other is giving up all hope. Every game is like that. I have played it a lot and you either win greatly, or lose horribly.

Multiplayer gameplay consists of soldiers and creatures. Each side has 4 character types. The character you pick is based on the ability you want. As a human you then pick your weapon and a perk. As a creature you don’t pick a weapon but rather another perk that changes the creatures play style a bit. Every character has a specific way to use them with different tactics and not everyone will be good with all the characters.

On the human side the four character types are Blitzer, Lurker, Bruiser, and Healer. Humans play in a first person point of view. The Blitzer has the ability to teleport, which makes for quick escapes and gives you the ability to teleport through solid objects and walls. The Lurker’s ability is a shield that reflects damage back on the person attacking you. Bruisers have an impulse ability that lets you push enemies back while causing damage. Healers have the ability to heal themselves and other players. Healers are a pretty self explanatory support class.

On the creature side there are Zeks, Reverts, Phase Ticks, and Radions. Creatures play in a third person point of view. The creatures’ abilities are much more varied and not always immediately clear as to how helpful they are. Zeks have the ability to become translucent and invincible for short periods of time. They can also produce explosive barrels and throw them. Zeks are very good attackers and good for the first line of attack. Reverts can set proximity mines and puke on people, which blinds, slows down, and hurts the enemy. Reverts are a good support class and are difficult to directly attack people with because of how slow they are. Phase Ticks have the ability to climb on everything and take over an enemy’s body. These guys have very weak attacks and absolutely no defense, but when they take over an enemy they are able to control that player’s character and use his abilities. The Radion is the last creature class and these guys are pretty much giant tanks. They have strong attacks and high defense. They aren’t the most agile, but they do a very good job at stopping enemy progression for a while.

There are two gametypes for multiplayer: Creatures Vs. Soldiers and Extermination Mode. Creatures Vs. Soldiers is simply team deathmatch with creatures going against soldiers. After every round the teams switch sides. In extermination mode, the soldiers are tasked with activating a beacon and protecting it until it goes off, while the creatures have to keep that beacon from being activated and destroy it before it goes off. Extermination games take a while because once you activate one beacon and beat an area it will open up a new area. Each level has 3 areas that require beacon activation. Once the round is up, teams switch sides and the team with the fastest time or most beacons activated wins.

Audio & Graphics
The audio is paced perfectly with the game, certain moments require you to get moving and pick up the pace. The music will speed up to signify this, and helps you move faster. There is also a creepy elements and the music backs these moments up perfectly. The audio was used very well and it highlights moments in the game superbly.

The graphics are also well done and quite crisp. There are a few parts of the game where the textures weren’t there and it seemed dull and flat. I am assuming this was my Xbox being lazy about loading the textures, but I am not sure and it could possibly be lacking them in those parts of the game. The surroundings also change when you change the past. At first it you may not notice it, but it becomes pretty clear around certain major alterations in the time line.

Achievements
The achievements in singularity are very nice. They push the player to become well rounded and use everything at least for a little while. None of them are that difficult and a majority of them just require you to keep an eye out for possible opportunities to do the achievements at. The achievements are distributed between the singleplayer campaign and the multiplayer. The singleplayer achievements are straight forward and require you to either do everything available to you or progress through the story. The collecting achievements are very nice because there are many more than just the amount you are told to find. Since there are more objects than the amount you need you can play the game regularly without being too distracted looking for stuff, just keep an eye out and you will run into most of them as you play. The multiplayer achievements are also not that difficult. The hardest part is finding games and keeping them running. The next task is to become well rounded with all the characters you can play as because you will need to use each one for their specific achievements. The achievements that require a certain amount of games will take the longest, particularly since most games last 20-30 minutes. Luckily the developers have supplied an area in the main menu that lets you keep track of all the cumulative achievements. This feature lets you know how much longer you have to do a certain task before you complete it.

View the Achievement List here

Overview
Singularity has an amazing story and the time control aspects are superb. Many of the puzzles are too easy though and don’t require much thinking, but there are a few that may get you thinking for a little while. The TMD has multiple uses and an easy button layout lets you manipulate time without much hassle. Sadly the game is a tad short and there isn’t much to compel the player into playing the story again since the multiple endings are only affected by the choice at the very end and you can just reload that checkpoint after each ending. There is a multiplayer, but connection issues make getting games difficult and the community is also not that large. Overall Singularity is a very good game and is a lot of fun the first time through it.
I give Singularity
8-5-capsules-out-of-10

Pros

  • Amazing Story
  • Sweet time travel elements
  • Additional Multiplayer

Cons

  • Short
  • Not Much Replay Value
  • Multiplayer connection issues and small community.

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