As I state with half of my reviews for games, most of my stuff is randomly picked by a birdie telling me it is worth however many dollars is slapped on it, and my not very valuable time. I mean, why wouldn’t I pick up a title with a relatively positive reception, poor sales, and an eight dollar price tag. No clue, but it certainly was worth what I paid. Oh, and no Multiplayer will be mentioned because who the blazes would be playing it?
Singularity (Single Player) Review Release Date: 25/6/2010 Platforms: Xbox 360(Reviewed), PS3, PC Developer: Raven Software Publisher: Activision
Beginning the running theme of this review, Singularity, meaning the game, not any other things that could easily make it harder to research this game. Is in terms of both narrative and gameplay, an amalgamation of several first-person-shooters that came out in the years prior. With a story setting off with a duo of military buddies, you playing as one only signified by the lack of speech and name Renko, investigating a deserted Russian facility on an island before discovering E99, which is some sort of element that makes time and space into whatever it feels like. Which sets forth a time travelling escapade between 2010 and 1955. Throwing in resistances, alternate histories, the always hefty weight that comes with excessive time travel, and scientists of the two moral extremes.
Most of which is not the focal point, if the lack of subtitles and fast pace are any indication. While there are very keen idea thrown around, with temporal singularities, alternate histories, and manipulating enemies through time. It is very easy to ignore the detail placed into the world as shown through the plethora of typed notes and audio logs that are scattered about on massive tape recorders. None of which are helped by the fact the game tries to tie everything together by using three endings. All of which sequel-bait like mad, as I wondered if the story crafters realized that E99 looks a lot like Egg.
Thankfully, most of the clutter that could potentially emerge from the gameplay is undermined. With a small arsenal of upgradeable weapons, with only two at a time, the ability to make spheres that stop anything that enter their radius, age or mutate individual enemies, or just throw a container of elemental based pain. I actually really do enjoy the balance Singularity has, with seemingly just the right amount of toys, and persuasion to use powers backed up by a regenerating meter. I found myself regularly switching between most of the abilities available, an issue that I had with the very connectable Bioshock.
Not that it doesn’t have my same issue of having more than enough of the item used to purchase powers. As there are a nice amount of discoverable perks to fund with loose bits of E99 hidden about along with upgrade points. Providing a nice bit of exploration for the otherwise very linear structure the game uses, even though I’m sure I missed several perks by doing that, which would likely explain why the ability to use health kits faster one of the few equipable skills.
Aside that, and a general sense of limitations and certain weapon feel that reminded me of Legendary of all things. Singularity does transition between the more intense firefights with a few stealthy and atmospheric segments where the game is reminiscent of Metro 2033, going so far as to use a gas mask as you’re constantly collecting oxygen. Times where you’re thrown a gun that lets you aim the bullets threw time manipulation to blow up Russian soldiers from both the past and futuristic year of 2010. Paired with the obvious inclusion of hitting grey mutations with explosive darts or popping their heads off with a sniper rifle that slows down time when you aim. Because why not?
All before taking a page from Half-Life 2, and giving you nigh unlimited uses of your even more powerful “gimmick” weapon. Only missing the thrill that comes with using said power on any proper final encounter, which was almost deceptive due to how there were upgrade tokens up until five minutes before the end. Although, I’d guess they spent too much time to decide what the before then faceless, voiceless, personality-less Captain Renko would do with the hand of god.
Which does become fitting following one particular firefight a third of the way through, when the game began to spoil me with goodies as enemies still fall if you shoot them in the head. Oddly the most difficult in the first sections where you need to use a pistol that still feels like a brick that shoots porridge, even after several upgrades. Something presumably added to keep up the game’s very pleasant shifts between wandering the sewers of slightly levitating blind ratmen, solving a simple but neat puzzle where you manipulate the age of objects, and fighting a giant worm thingie with glowing pores. But becomes less useful than a gun that requires you to charge every shot, but I’d guess the game was aware of that, because I don’t recall seeing it at all during the second half, with gatling guns becoming the new standard.
However, if the game’s look is any indication of the amount of money they had, being a more than competent double A assortment of first-person-shooters that came before it is an achievement. While the visuals themselves do not look poor in any manner, still retaining a look that is very much inspired by others, but with its own fixings to help the sight of unmasked heads popping off be somewhat cartoonish. The game’s budget is noticeable the first time I tried walking over a particular box, not realizing it was a wall in the cube for mobility you are stuck in. Mind you, its a nicely wallpapered box, one with imagery that got especially blatant with a lean tower that had a portal piercing from its roof, but just stylized enough to not make its grey heavy locals overly dreary.
While the audio, more or less a jumbled mess for enemies, having conversations come from sections I cleared out despite there being one guy standing in a corner. Does a firm job with the setting music, pretty much acting as the game’s way to tell you that it changed from a wandering around title to one with giant spider thingies that shoot lasers. As it is pretty much the glue that holds the sections together.
If I had to use a metaphor, Singularity is, like its name suggests, a merge between several other titles, never fulling mixing, with several chunks of reminiscence of the few FPSs, or however you plural that term, I played. But the goo that holds it all together is potent enough to keep the title standing tall with only a few issues more due to how I’d guess the game was made for 15 million or less. While never quite surpassing the sum of its parts, Singularity does justice to all it borrows from.
Great! (15/20) An impressive product, but won’t always astound due to a fair number of flaws that are difficult to ignore. Still worth your cash and a few hours of your time.