Singularity is the latest FPS released by Raven Software. It got much praise and a lot of hype last year, but since then not a lot has been said. With the hype gone and Singularity entering the already watered down FPS genre, can it succeed where so many have failed? Or was it simply sent to die?
Singularity’s story starts at the beginning of the cold war. The Soviets are worried about the threat of the Americans and there nuclear power, and they set out to find something to level the playing field. On Katorga-12 they discover a mysterious element called Element 99 and even though the element is very unstable they set out to try and control it. They set up a community on the island and run tests not only in the labs, but also on the children and residents. The studies continued until 1955 when there was in unexplained accident.
Fast forward to 2010 and a US spy satellites gets damaged from a sudden electromagnetic surge from Katorga-12. A black ops team is dispersed to this location to find the cause. On root there is another explosion that sends your chopper crashing into the island killing all but two of you. While trying to find the only other survivor, Devlin, there is a mysterious power surge that transports you back to 1955. While trying to escape a burning building you come across a man, Demichev, who is about to fall through a hole in the floor your instincts kick in and you save him from falling to his death. Upon saving him there is yet another shockwave that returns you to your time.
Once you return to 2010 you find that the island seems different. Statues have changed and you have lost all communication with the US. Worse yet, there are mutated creatures running around the island. Eventually you meet up with Devlin and try to escape… until you run into Demichev who is now a dictator controlling the entire world and wants you dead…..
Throughout Singularity you will have to fight your way through not only Demichev’s army, but also the mutated freaks that were left on the island after the explosion. Fighting through schools, underground labs and abandoned ships both in the present and the past. You must find out what has happened to the world and figure out how to stop Demichev and return the world to how it was meant to be. The story itself is told through brief cut scenes, flashbacks and recordings hidden around the island. The story is both intriguing and suspenseful as you encounter some rather horrifying creatures, and the forces of Demichev.
Singularity is a FPS with the gameplay heavily focused on what you would expect from a FPS, and that is shooting. The majority of the guns are pretty similar to what you will find in most FPS machine guns, shotguns and pistols, but the few unique weapons you come across are what really makes this game shine. The Seeker for instance is a special gun you only come across once in awhile and it always has limited ammo. Once the Seeker is fired you slow down time and can control where the bullets go. This is very helpful to clear out a room of enemy solders.
Once you find a weapon it is stored in a weapons locker. These are scattered all across the island, and upon finding one you can buy ammo, switch out weapons or upgrade your weapon. Upgrading each weapon requires Weapon Tech which is sometimes hard to find and will require you to search some areas. Once you acquire the weapon tech you can upgrade your weapons damage, fire rate and reload speed.
Now what Singularity does bring that is different then other FPS is the TMD (Time Manipulation Device). This device which is found pretty early in the game can move objects and humans backwards or forward in time. This becomes a key element when traversing the decaying grounds. You may need to reverse time on steps or control panels to access certain areas or fast forward a lock so you can get through a door or into a locker, or you may simply want to turn a solder into dust. You also gain new abilities for your TMD through TMD upgrade stations. These are usually stationed right before a certain area that you will need to use that new ability on. These abilities will let you pick up and move objects, create time altering bubbles that slow time and even transform solders into creatures. These new abilities will also aid you on different puzzles you find throughout the island.
The one down side of the TMD is it only effects humans and some objects, so a lot of time you won’t be able to just run around manipulating everything. They have a pretty set path for you to go and even though you can venture to some side rooms the game is pretty linear. It really is a shame since some of your best ideas end up not panning out since you aren’t allowed to transform an object.
Throughout the island you will be collecting E99. This will be used to buy new ammo at the weapon lockers. You also will be using the E99 at Augmenters. The Augmenters are used to increase your health, the amount of health packs you can carry and even increase accuracy. These abilities are not usually available for purchase and only unlock when you find blueprints. Once you find these blueprints you then can purchase a new perk to aid you in the fight. These abilities become key in the later stages of the game when sometimes the enemies start to overwhelm you.
The overall sound and graphics are pretty well done. The sound of the creatures and the decaying world around you really add to the suspense and loneliness you experience. From a creaking door to a scream of a mutant, it really helps to keep you on the edge of your seat. The voice acting is also very well done, and helps to pull you into the game even more. There are on occasions some graphical glitches, but none are game breaking. The atmosphere that Singularity creates is what really sets it apart from other FPS. There are some genuinely frightening areas that will have you on the edge of your seat and probably even a few inches in the air. Although its not the most freighting game I’ve played the suspense it creates was very enjoyable.
The game itself does have a few downfalls; there are some odd difficulty spikes even on the easiest setting where I found myself struggling to complete a section on multiple occasions. It also would of been nice to see more variation in the enemies. After about halfway though the game you’ve seen pretty much all they have to throw at you. This game is set up perfectly for some epic boss battles and other than one or two, you only have to deal with waves of enemies. This is a shame because what they do have there is great and it would of been nice to see what else they could of thrown at us had they only tried to push the envelope.
Singularity does come with some online multiplayer as well, but it is pretty bare bones. The two game modes they offer are creatures vs solders (standard death match) and Extermination (attack and defend). Each mode pegs one side as the creatures and the other as the humans. Again, pretty boilerplate stuff here. The human sides can choose between four different classes each having a unique TMD skill, you also get to choose your weapon and a perk. The creatures side can choose one of four creatures as well. Each creature has its own unique set of abilities. You also get to choose two perks. Although the online is a ton of fun especially playing as the creatures it is a real shame they couldn’t of added more. You should be able to get a few hours of fun, but this looks to fade out pretty quickly.
Although it does have its down sides, overall Singularity delivered a fun experience in a unique world.
PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score
TMD helps a lot to set it apart from other FPS
Solid gameplay throughout the game
Mulitplayer component is fun, but, unfortunately, lacking