Reviews

Singularity – Review

 

Release Date: Out now!
Developer: Raven
Publisher: Activision
Singleplayer: yes
Splitscreen: No
Multiplayer: 2-12
PEGI:18

Singularity states that in 1950 the Russians discovered a new element, E99.
With this new element they created powerful weapons and devices that could alter time itself but it proved unstable and the entire idea was abandoned.

Skip forward to 2010 and you are sent to investigate strange anomalies coming from the island Katorga-12, home of the experiments.
Predictable you are sent back in time and alter events so that the Russians  rule the vast majority of the world and the island is now inhabited by Mutants born of the Singularity.

While Singularity’s storyline may not be anything that sci-fi has covered before it sets up for an FPS game with a few neat idea’s of its own, most importantly the TMD (Time Manipulation Device) which was borne of the E99 tech.
Strapped to your wrist this piece of kit allows players access to all manner of powers with the most basic being able to unleash a blast of force and age enemies and objects.
It’s the games single most unique feature and yet it’s also its most disappointing in many ways.

As you progress you gain access to more of these abilities such as creating bubbles of time that slow down enemies and being able to Revert enemy soldiers into freakish creatures that attack their allies along with other idea’s.
It’s good fun to use in combat and also in the games puzzles but sadly these tend to be extremely simple, usually amounting to “use the TMD to pick up a box and wedge open a door by aging it” and it’s here that you feel Raven missed a trick as the TMD could have been used for all manner of interesting and unique puzzles.

it also strugges to fit all these powers onto the controller with it getting rather crowded in later stages. Clicking the right stick can be a little fiddly at times anyway without actually having two separate and very different abilities attached to it leading to some frustrating moments.
Sadly Raven have also severely limited its use, while your mind conjures up idea’s of much fun you could have simply by using the TMD’s powers in the game world you’re limited to only using them on certain objects.
The reason why is explained but it still feels like a rather cheap tactic.

All of this leads to a disappointed feeling, the TMD is fun to use in combat without a doubt and watching an enemy crumble to dust as you age them is brilliant as is learning which powers work best on the games different mutants and soldiers but it’s limited puzzle use and game world interaction leave you feeling underwhelmed and your mind will envision all the possibilities that the TMD could have had.

But of course as an FPS game it’s all about the gunplay and Singularity does a good job of it.
Due to the game’s storyline you’ll be jumping from time to time and combating both Mutants and Russian Soldiers giving a nice variety as the Mutants come in a few flavours such as basic shambling beasts to teleporting freaks that can also phase out of existence. It’s well used and keeps the pacing from getting to dull as the mutants favour melee leading to some frantic shooting mixed with the more traditional gunplay as you fight the Russians.
Sometimes it does feel as though your going too long without changing enemies however.

Happily they’ve provided a good selection of weaponry for the job of fixing your time related muck-ups and due to the time-traveling idea’s the weapons got a nice redesign.
While your standard Assault Rifle and Shotguns function the same they’ve had a nice sleek redesign with a more technical look to them, but once you get past those you come into the Sniper Rifle that slows down time, the Spikeshot which is effectively a railgun along with the mini-cannon which functions like a minigun.

All of these pale in comparison to the games best weapon, the Seeker.
Fire a bullet and everything goes into slow motion while you take control of the explosive bullet and steer it into the enemy, it’s amazing fun to use but the weapon is extremely limited.
You can’t change weapon without dropping it and certain points in the game your character will simply drop it without explaination nor reason.
It’s never explained why you cannot carry it like a normal weapon as it appears to be normal sixed. The reasons are obvious, the gun is overpowered for general gameplay but still a reason would have been nice or simply allowing the player to keep it but not providing any ammo would have been another way to limit its use.

Still the gunplay all feels very solid and weapons feel nicely balanced though the Sniper Rifle can often feel a little situational to use. But for the most part the weapons feel different enough to keep you happy though the chance to switch weapon loadouts more often would have been welcome.
Along the way you can also upgrade these weapons but sadly all the weapons have exactly the same upgrades instead of weapon specific upgrades and this feels a little cheap as weapons like the Sniper Rifle lend themselves to upgrades focusing on their unique abilities.

You can also upgrade the TMD and your character as you progress, however many of these upgrades feel rather pointless and tacked on to simply fill out the upgrade menu and these upgrades whether weapon, TMD or character have no visual representation either which is also a shame.

These upgrades and new weapons are handed out at a good pace though and it helps keep you interested.

It’s Singularity’s world that really makes the game in many respects however, heavy influences from Bioshock can be felt with the decaying world and the collection of Audio Tapes lying around also feels reminiscent of the classic.
There are some visually striking locations to be seen though a good chunk of the game involves being in bleak buildings but the contrast when you travel back in time and witness the bright white walls and freshness of the labs is fantastic and add’s to the world in a good way.
It’s truly a very atmospheric place to be but some things can jerky you out of the world such as the old video reels of Russian experiments being spoken entirely in English and the world also has many invisible walls to stop you venturing to far afield. In face these walls are used far to often, sometimes even to stop you jumping up to a little crate and it makes the world feel much more linear than it looks and some unconvincing water also drags you out of the experience.
Along the way mysterious Chrono notes (written on walls) also add insight and begin to make you feel like something else has been going on, other parts of the story are also filled in via notes found around the world.

Other small things in Singularity bug, such as some irritating stealth sections and the inclusion of Ticks, a small fast crawling explosive enemy, which become infuriating after a time along with the single big boss battle being a rather generic “Shoot the glowing points” battle with little freedom.
The fact that your gun does not come straight back up after using the TMD also irks though is far from game breaking.
Occasional glitches, texture pop-ins and other things also don’t help.

Still though there are some nicely memorable moments such as raising a huge ship from the depths and then racing through it while it crumbles back into the ocean and the ending is portrayed in a simple moral choice, though sadly it’s clear-cut black and white but still entertaining with the morally correct decision being quite interesting.

Singularity takes idea’s from several games such as Bioshock and Half Life 2 and throws in a few of its own, it’s a no-nonsense shooter that won’t bog you down with complicated moral choices it simply asks you to enjoy yourself as you shoot everything that moves and play with some cool time powers.
The storyline sometimes borders on daft but for the most part is an enjoyable sci-fi tale that keeps you interested and the weapons are very well done as is the gunplay.
Singularity arrived with no fanfare nor publicity and that’s a shame, it’s a shooter that deserves attention and rightly so as it’s one of the most fun shooters in a while.
If you like Sci-fi shooters then Singularity is well worth your cash.

The Good:
+ the TMD works very well
+ Mixing time control and bullets into that perfect run of death!
+ watching the massive ship rebuild before your eyes.

The Bad:
– The TMD feels like it could have been more
– Dam Ticks!
– Annoying stealth sections.

Score’s:

Graphics: 8.5
As usual it’s powered by Unreal and the art design is very well done but there are some texture pop ins and some low resolution textures as well but the weapons all look great and the blood and gore (of which there is a lot) all look great!

Sound: 7
For the most part the voice acting sounds a bit cheesy with over the top accents but the music helps add to tense moments as does the use of no music and just background sounds.

Story: 7
Much of it is nonsense but at the core of it remains a well told story that will hold your interest though the ending is a little predictable.

Gameplay: 8.5
Solid, fun shooting mixed with time control powers equals for some great gaming and the mix of enemies keeps things interesting as does the constant flow of new weapons and abilities.

Lifespan: 7.5
7-8 hours will see the singleplayer done with little replay value, the multiplayer will add time but is far from a classic.

Overall: 8/10
Singularity is a surprise hit, it deserves more attention than it got at release and I highly recommend it for FPS and Sci-fi fans alike. It’s a blast to play and though it may not be the most original nor does it try to wow you with complicated tales of morality it simply lets you have fun playing with guns and cool powers while playing through a slightly daft but enjoyable plot.

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