June is kind a slow month for game releases, Most of the big guns have been released earlier this year and I needed a gaming fix for the July 4th long weekend, so I picked up Singularity from others' recommendations, I have not heard anything about this game, and had no idea what's it's about and how it's played, so I didn't really have high expectations going in, and I was definitely pleasantly surprised on how good this game turned out to be.
The game started out fairly slow, in the first hour or so, it plays just like a generic first person shooter, you are sent to investigate an anomalous radiation readings on a Russian island, and you soon found out that the island was a site to a 50s era Soviet secret research site, and apparently something went wrong, and the whole island was abandoned and there are freakishly deformed creatures abound. I almost gave up when I first started the game, since it's so generic, but once you progressed through this part and picked up the TMD (Time Manipulation Device), the game takes a complete turn and added several dimensions to the game play.
The TMD allows you to turn an object back in time or forward in time, so generally it will turn a broken down object into its brand new state and vice versa, and after upgrades, you can also create a time dilation bubble that will slow down time for anything trapped in it, and you can also "pull" objects from afar (as well as out of enemies' hands and missiles), and then shoot them back out, this creates interesting combinations you can use during combat, as well as mechanisms you can use to solve puzzles littered throughout the game. There are also time rifts you can use the TMD to go back to the 1950s, and that added even more possibilities to the game. Atmospherically, this game took a page from Bioshock and Portal, you can find audio recordings, notes, and wall writings that gave you more information on what happened in the 50s. There are also some very interesting weapons you can pick up throughout the levels. The story is fairly interesting, although the big twist at the end is pretty obvious if you have seen or read any time-travel related stories, but it serves the purpose and gives you motivations to progress through the game.
There are a few drawbacks to Singularity, first of all, the game looks fairly average, it's not ugly, but it's also not the best looking game out there, and there are no subtitle options, so when I was playing late at night with the volume turned down, I sometimes have problem making out what was being said. And finally, as cool as the TMD is, I think there are a lot of missed opportunities on what's in the game, the puzzles in the game are pretty cool, but all uses the same mechanisms over and over, there are definitely a lot more the developer can do to make this as much as a shooter as a Portal-like puzzle game.
I think Singularity flew under the radar of a lot of gamers out there, which is a shame, because this is one of the funnest game I played this year. If you are in a gaming drought and is waiting for the next big game, pick Singularity up and give it a shot, I think you'll enjoy it a lot.
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About the reviewer
James Liu (jamesliu)
I was originally from Taipei, Taiwan, and I moved to the united states when I was 16 years old. I lived in Champaign, Illinois for 6 years before moving to California and have been here since. … more
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Singularity is a first-person shooter developed by the legendary Raven Software and utilizing the power and flexibility of the Unreal 3 game engine. Set in an alternate present of 2010, players take on the role of a US Air Force pilot who while investigating an extreme radiation signature, stumbles upon a top secret Cold War era Soviet program, run amok which not only causes monstrous mutations, but also threatens to alter nature of time itself.
Story In the dark, Cold War winter of 1949-50 Stalin, the brutal leader of the Soviet Union, had two super weapons: long range missiles and the atomic bomb. But even if his teams of forced labor managed to build a missile powerful enough to carry an atomic payload, Stalin still faced encirclement by the United States and the Strategic Air Command. He knew that he needed another advantage over the United States, one that would ensure Soviet security and superiority. Then came the chance discovery on the remote island of Katorga-12 off the wild Kamchatka peninsula, of a previously unknown material, Element 99 (E99). E99 became the new source of Stalin's hope: a new energy source of unparalleled power. Unfortunately, the new element also yielded a new kind of contamination risk. But these were acceptable risks to Stalin - anything ...