Singularity released last year to an unfortunately small amount of buzz. It’s a shame, because Singularity is a game that evokes memories of Bioshock well without shamelessly ripping it off. For the entirety of its seven to eight hours, Raven Software succeeds in providing an interesting take on the stale FPS genre.
The game takes place on a seemingly abandoned Russian island known as Katorga-12. Hardly five minutes into the game, Singularity displays its influences from Bioshock quite prominently. Outside of a couple of exceptions, all cutscenes are from the player’s perspective, and Katorga-12 reeks of Rapture’s architecture. There’s even a handy 1940′s style introductory movie for the player upon your arrival. I found this to be to the game’s benefit personally. Very quickly, the player becomes quickly wrapped up in a time-traveling mission to stop a mad-man from controlling the world. I found the story to be pretty enjoyable myself, and I felt it managed to steer clear from many of the plot holes associated with games containing time-travel. The ending also delivers a nice twist I didn’t see coming.
This game plays like a standard FPS with one notable twist: the TMD. The Time Manipulation Device (Shocking name, I know) can manipulate time, of course, which lends itself in both puzzles and combat. For example, staircases can be revitalized and enemies can be aged to dust. There are also more interesting abilities, like a shockwave and a bubble that slows down time. The TMD also manipulates rifts in time to travel to different periods of time. I personally find the TMD to be one of the coolest weapons of this generation, and it’s helped by a solid lineup of other weapons. For instance, there’s a sniper rifle that allows you to control the bullets in slow-mo fashion, or a grenade launcher that allows the grenade to be rolled around. Combat comes together splendidly, with the TMD and other weapons working wonderfully in conjunction with each other. Puzzles are used a bit sparingly, and they’re really more of a distraction from the action then a quick refresher, especially since they’re recycled.
Graphically, Singularity is quite detailed and pleasing to look at. Guns look pretty cool, and enemies are varied and interesting. The game also does a good job cluing the player in on what time period it is through visual clues. No complaints in the framerate or animations either. Everything is in place as far as controls go, and the supporting cast is pretty solid.
If Singularity has one disadvantage, it’s that it isn’t particularly long. While the multiplayer feels a bit more fun than your typical slapped on multiplayer (the gametypes allow you to control some of the game’s more interesting enemies), there just isn’t enough game to really last you more than ten hours at max.
The Good: A strong story, cool weapons, a great use of Bioshock-ian influence.
The Bad: Short length, fairly forgettable multiplayer.
The Ugly: Recycled puzzles that get in the way of the fun.
Score: 8.5 out of 10
Final Comments: Singularity is a refreshing entry in the FPS genre, and is a fun ride while it lasts.