If you like your action games ‘mindless and fun’ then Singularity should tick enough boxes to demand your interest. There are no deep, ethical situations you will need to deal with – this is all about gung ho combat … taking out hideous enemies with a plethora of weaponry while bending time to your whim.
Singularity is a first person shooter from Raven Software which immediately struck me as a BioShock/Half Life 2 hybrid. It isn’t as clever as either, nor is it wrapped in a compelling story line but hell, its fun. The basic story? Well the Soviet Union have stumbled across a source of rare Element 99, and it can now warp time and call monsters into the world to do their bidding.
You take control of Nate Renko, the all American hero soldier who has the daunting task of trying to fix this unpleasant Russian situation. The player is greeted with a detailed five minute backstory at the start of the game which while entertaining, makes about as much sense as a 20ft talking rabbit. While much of the action revolves around shooting all monsters in sight, there are some puzzle elements which add a nice twist to the proceedings.
The environments you fight in all have a mixture of mutants, undead creatures and pissed off Russian soldiers. You get access to miniguns, sniper rifles, grenade launchers and they all have really impressive alternative fire modes too. One of the guns has a special fire mode with controllable bullets – which is a blast to play around with. The Time Manipulation Device is one of the main weapons as you can change time on a specific object, meaning if you are head to head with a few tough soldiers you can turn them into skeletons.
To keep it active you have to insert energy into it (plasmids from BioShock anyone?). The TMD can also send out shockwave blasts to force enemies out of your vicinity, and it also has the option to send out a ball of time freezing energy to aid with puzzle solving – such as stopping fans from spinning. Hmmmm, im sure I saw this before too.
The Unreal Engine 3 has a tendency to make the game look a little like BioShock, especially as the developers have used many similar colour palettes throughout. This is meant as a compliment, because Raven have really delivered an impressive looking game, even if some of the textures are a little crude at times.
I found it very enjoyable to play because just when I was starting to get bored, the developers would throw something into the mix to spin you on your head – a new option, a new weapon or a new way of doing things. One section immediately springs to mind … when you are told that the undead creatures in one area are all blind, you don’t need to waste ammo getting through, you sneak past, Sam Fisher style until you are out of the area. If only you can resist the nice containers with sweet power ups …
Sometimes you have to go back in time to perform an important action and when these time lines start to overlap, it plays some serious tricks with your mind. All credit to Raven for coming up with such an intensely confusing concept.
The tongue in cheek aspects of the game made me laugh, the developers clearly went into this game with strong views of not taking themselves too seriously and it really does work. You aren’t drawn into the experience by the depth, but more by the sheer enjoyment of wanting to see what awaits you around the next bend.
It is not original, it has nicked a lot of ideas from some of the greatest first person shooters in the last decade, but surprisingly it manages to pull off some fantastic environmental gameplay designs and the action is thick and heavy. Quite often we ended up laughing through some sections, thanks to the bizarre ideas and way of doing things. This is certainly one you need to check out.